Football Drops Season-Opener At Bowdoin

September 26, 2009

Middlebury was outscored 19-0 in the fourth quarter as they lost a shootout at Bowdoin, 50-35 to open up the season. The two teams combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense, as the Polar Bears failed to turn the ball over en route to the win.

In a classic quarterback duel, Oliver Kell tossed for 374 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Polar Bears (1-0) while Donald McKillop threw for 420 yards and three scores in defeat for the Panthers (0-1). Kell, who threw for the second-most yards in a single game in program history, became the school's career passing yardage leader in the victory.

Bowdoin started their season auspiciously, scoring on their first two drives. A five yard end-around rush by Pat Noone gave the hosts the lead after a nine-play, 67-yard drive and, after a Middlebury punt. Noone found himself on the receiving end of a 51-yard scoring strike from Kell to give the Polar Bears a 14-0 lead.

Middlebury's offense found their stride on the ensuing possession, as McKillop directed a four-play, 60-yard drive that ended in a screen play from the junior quarterback to Matt Rayner, who scampered through traffic for a 14-yard score. After forcing a Bowdoin punt, McKillop and Rayner hooked up again - this time on a 24-yard scoring pass - to deadlock the score with just 18 seconds left in the opening quarter.

After receiving the kickoff, Bowdoin found paydirt on the last play of the period, as Nick Tom rambled 62 yards through the Middlebury defense to give the hosts a 21-14 edge.

The Panthers took the lead for the first time in the second quarter with impressive back-to-back drives. A 10-play, 53-yard surge was capped by an Erik Rostad dive into the endzone to tie the game at 21. Later in the quarter, McKillop found Rayner for the third time with 4:12 left to cap a nine-play drive and give the visitors at 28-21 lead. Bowdoin managed to trim the advantage before intermission as Bill Donahue booted a 40-yard field goal right before the break to close the gap to 28-24.

Bowdoin took the opening kickoff of the second half and cashed in on an 11-play drive deep into Middlebury territory. On a fourth-and-goal from the three yard line, Kell rolled right and found Phil Tonucci wide open in the flat to give the Polar Bears a 31-28 lead. The Panthers regained the lead later in the quarter as a long pass from McKillop to Bill Greven set up a three-yard plunge by Rostad to make it 35-31 Middlebury.

The Polar Bear defense clamped down from there, and the Bowdoin offense continued to roll with 19 unanswered points in the fourth period. Early in the fourth, a broken play resulted in Kell finding a wide open Justin Starr for a 32-yard score. After a long Middlebury drive was stymied in Bowdoin territory, Kell found Noone again over the middle for a 58-yard touchdown pass to make it 44-35. Late in the quarter, a Kevin Zikaras interception set up a 15-yard touchdown run by Nick Tom, icing the 50-35 victory.

Noone's 12 catches broke the program mark of 11 in a game held by Bert Sciolla, Paul Wiley and Doug Johnson. His 180 yards receiving were the fourth-most in school history. Kell's four touchdown passes were the second-most in school history. Zikaras led Bowdoin with 15 tackles (nine solo) including three for a loss.

McKillop threw 61 passes, completing 38 for the Panthers and ended with 420 yards through the air. Rayner and David Reed each finished with seven catches and 101 yards. Cam Taylor led Middlebury with 10 total tackles while Chris Dola had five tackles (3.5 for loss) and 1.5 sacks in the game.

Middlebury retains an 11-7-1 lead in the all-time series as Bowdoin earns their first victory against the Panthers since the 2005 season opener (the teams did not play in '06 and '07). The 85 total points are easily the most scored in the series history and are the most points scored in a Bowdoin game since 2004 when Hamilton defeated Bowdoin 51-48.