Football Drops Opener At Wesleyan

September 24, 2011

Matt Coyne scored on a draw play running to the right from nine yards out with 1:57 left in the contest to lift homestanding Wesleyan past Middlebury in the season-opener for both squads, 16-15. Middlebury led 15-7 entering the final period, but a 34-yard field goal by Sebastian Aguirre with 13:04 to go in the game cut the margin to 15-10. The Panthers punted twice to sandwich a pass interception by Wesleyan’s Jake Bussani, his second of the contest, as they were unable to score in their next three possessions.  Wesleyan, after holding Middlebury at its own 11-yard line, got a 26-yard punt return from Te'Rhon O'Neal to give the Cardinals field position at the Middlebury 21-yard line with 3:23 to go.  Coyne, who ran for a team-high 80 yards on 12 carries, threw for six yards to Kevin Hughes and ran twice for 20 yards to find the end zone. Coyne completed 11 of 21 passes for 98 yards on the day.

Middlebury relied on the offensive punch of sophomore quarterback McCallum Foote, who connected on 26 of 50 tries for 228 yards and a TD in his first game as a Panther. His scoring strike was from six yards out just before the end of the first half as Zach Dricoll (5 rec., 59 yds.) made the catch with :28 left to give the Panthers an 8-7 halftime edge. Nick Resor led Middlebury with six receptions, good for 69 yards. Sophomore Remi Ashkar handled virtually all of the rushing for Middlebury with 33 attempts for 101 yards and a two-yard TD burst at 8:43 of the third period, upping Middlebury's lead to 15-7.  Middlebury got its first points of the game after a splendid punt by Driscoll was downed at the Wesleyan one-yard line.  A screen pass attempt by Wesleyan on third down was stuffed in the end zone by Matt Crimmins and Alex Englert for a safety with 2:42 left in the second quarter, making the score 7-2.

Wesleyan struck first on its initial possession as Coyne engineered a 71-yard march in 5:13 for a 7-0 lead.  A five-yard run by Vince Miller put the finishing touches on the 11-play series.  Miller finished with 17 runs for 64 yards while LaDarius Drew added 62 yards on eight carries as Wesleyan collected 221 yards on the ground to just 100 by Middlebury. The Panthers' 130-yard margin in passing yards gave them a slight lead in total yards for the game, 328 to 319.  

Middlebury had a final possession in the game following the Cardinals' go-ahead score but four straight incompletions turned the ball over to Wesleyan on downs and the Cardinals were able to run out the clock.

Defensively, Bussani had the two interceptions for Wesleyan, the first coming in the end zone during the first quarter after Middlebury reached the Cardinals' 14-yard line. He also made seven tackles and broke up two other passes.  Justin Freres led Wesleyan with 11 stops while Brett Bandazian was in on 10 tackles.  Middlebury got 10 tackles apiece from Zach Roeder and John Wiet. 

Wesleyan now leads the all-time series vs. Middlebury, 23-20-2, and snapped a three-game skid vs. the Panthers. Up next for the Cardinals is a trip to Hamilton for a game Sat., Oct. 1, while Middlebury will be at home against Colby the same day.