Football Tops Amherst

October 6, 2007

Middlebury improved to 3-0 for the second consecutive season with a 19-16 win at Amherst. The Panthers and this week's opponent Williams, are now 11-2 in their last 13 games, second only to 12-1 Trinity. The visiting Panthers took a 19-9 lead into halftime, which proved to be too much for the Jeffs to overcome, as Middlebury hung on for win.

After Amherst went three-and-out on its first possession to begin the game, Panther quarterback Donald McKillop led his team down to the Amherst 36-yard line, where running back David Randolph took control. Randolph rushed for four yards to move the ball to the 32-yard line, and then broke free two plays later for a 32-yard scamper into the end zone. Jack Britton converted on the extra point to give the Panthers an early 7-0 lead.

McKillop got right back to work on the next drive and completed passes of 16 and 23 yards to march the Panthers right back into Amherst territory. Middlebury faced first-and-goal on the eight-yard line and would get as close as the two-yard line, but the Jeffs held the visitors to just a field goal, as Britton made it a 10-0 game with 3:33 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Jeffs once again went three-and-out and were forced to punt, but Keith Erzinger placed a beautiful kick deep in the Middlebury zone, as the Panthers took over on their own two-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Guy Matisis stopped Randolph well-behind the line of scrimmage, as the Jeffs put two points on the board with a safety and regained possession.

Amherst took advantage of Matisis' great play, and used a combination of Loeffler passes and NeSmith rushes to march down to inside the Middlebury 10-yard line, setting up a nine-yard touchdown pass from Loeffler to wide receiver Brandon Bullock. Matt Eberhart nailed the extra point to complete the drive, as Amherst trailed 10-9 with 12:50 to play in the second quarter.

Four minutes later, McKillop began an impressive drive from his team's 43-yard line. A 31-yard completion to Tim Dillon brought the Panthers to Amherst's 20-yard line. Facing fourth-and-two, McKillop was able to pick up the two crucial yards using his legs, setting up a Randolph 10-yard touchdown run on the next play. After the extra point conversion, this time from the foot of Anthony Kuchan, Middlebury held a 17-9 lead with 5:38 showing on the clock.

The Amherst offense once again went three-and-out on its next possession, but this time failed to send a clean snap to Erzinger, as the ball sailed over his head and into the end zone, resulting in the second safety of the game. The Panthers' lead increased to 19-9 after the two points, which is where the game stood heading into halftime. Middlebury had another chance to score before time expired, but Kuchan's 27-yard field goal attempt missed wide-right.

The third quarter featured much more of a defensive battle, as neither team managed to put any points on the scoreboard. The fourth quarter was much of the same, as Amherst failed to cut its deficit and Middlebury failed to pad its lead. It wasn't until there were two minutes and 40 seconds remaining in regulation that the Jeffs began another scoring drive, with Loeffler leading the way. The drive was highlighted by an 11-yard run by Loeffler when his team faced fourth-and-10, as he carried the ball down to Middlebury's 46-yard line.

The Jeffs once again faced fourth-and-10 just moments later, but Loeffler connected with Jim Eckenrode for a 16-yard completion. Loeffler followed up with another 16-yard completion, this time to Bullock, and another seven yards were tacked on after a Middlebury penalty. Loeffler completed the drive with a seven-yard touchdown pass to Bullock, as the Jeffs found themselves trailing 19-16 with only 63 seconds to work with. Amherst's only option was to attempt an on-side kick, but Middlebury was able to come up with the ball and run out the clock, as the Panthers held on for a nail-biting 19-16 win.

McKillop went 15-34 on the day with 168 passing yards, with Dillon accounting for 75 of those yards to lead the Middlebury wide receivers. Randolph racked up 68 rushing yards on 18 attempts to go along with his pair of touchdowns. Loeffler finished with 182 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for Amherst.

Matisis and Middlebury linebacker Erik Woodring were all over the field throughout the game, as Matisis finished with 13 total tackles to lead the Jeffs and Woodring racked up 15 to lead the Panthers. Nine of Woodring's tackles were of the solo variety, while Matisis made seven solo tackles and had three tackles-for-loss.