Middlebury has opened 4-0 for the second-straight season (5-0 in 2016), picking up a 35-31 road win over previously unbeaten Amherst (3-1) on Pratt Field. The Panthers led 35-17 in the fourth quarter and held off a late charge by the Mammoths to secure the win. Middlebury returns home next Saturday when it hosts Williams at 2:00 p.m.
Trailing 3-0, Middlebury went on a 17-play, 81-yard drive that elapsed 6:34 off the clock. Quarterback Jared Lebowitz connected with Maxim Bochman on an eight-yard touchdown pass with 10:22 remaining in the second quarter.
The Panthers doubled their lead when Kevin Hopsicker picked off a pass and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown and a 14-3 advantage.
Two series later, Wesley Becton earned a pick-six of his own, returning a pass 10 yards into the end zone for a 21-3 lead with 4:21 remaining in the second quarter.
The Mammoths committed their third turnover of the half on the ensuing kickoff, as Middlebury's Jonathan Hobart recovered a fumble, leaving the Panthers the ball at the Amherst 15. Two plays later, Lebowitz found Frank Cosolito for a 27-yard scoring strike and a 28-3 lead.
Jack Hickey scored on a 34-yard touchdown run for Amherst, making it a 28-10 game at the half.
Amherst scored on its first possession on the second half, as Hasani Figueroa raced 74 yards down the field, cutting the advantage to 28-17 early in the third quarter.
Middlebury gained some breathing room early in the fourth when Lebowitz hooked up with Conrado Banky for a 31-yard touchdown connection.
Trailing 35-17, Amherst did not go away, battling back with touchdowns on its next two possessions to cut the lead to 35-31 with 7:51 remaining.
Amherst had one more possession, but the Middlebury defense held and then ran out the final 4:56 of the game to secure the win.
Lebowitz finished with 205 yards and three touchdowns on 22-39 passing. Peter Scibilia led the rushers with 67 yards on 18 carries, while Cosolito (6 rec., 58 yds., TD) and Banky (5 rec., 52 yds., TD) paced the receivers. Hopsicker earned a team-best eight tackles to go along with his interception, Aaron Slodowitz made seven stops, Becton earned six tackles with an interception, while John Jackson picked off a pass.
Ollie Ebert went 7-12 for 148 yards (2 TD, INT), while Reece Foy completed 7-12 passes for 54 yards (2 INT) at quarterback for the Mammoths. Figueroa earned 109 yards on the ground with a score on just 10 carries, while Hickey picked up 80 yards on 12 rushes with a touchdown. James O'Regan led all receivers with seven catches for 151 yards and a touchdown. Four Amherst players finished with six tackles in the game.
The Middlebury defense forced four turnovers in the game, resulting in 21 points. The Mammoths rushed for 200 yards on the afternoon.