Trailing 24-23, Middlebury scored twice in the fourth quarter on its way to a 37-24 win over Bowdoin (0-2) in the home opener Saturday on Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium. The Panthers (1-1) return to action at Colby next Saturday, while the Polar Bears entertain Amherst. Middlebury running backs Peter Scibilia (184 yards) and Drew Jacobs (105 yards) became the first duo to rush for 100+ yards in a game since Terence Bradford and Brad Gottfred accomplished the feat in 1995.
Trailing 3-0, Scibilia scored on a four-yard rush at the 3:27 mark of the first quarter to put Middlebury up 7-3. The score was set up by a big hit from linebacker Pete Huggins, forcing a Bowdoin fumble at the Middlebury 43-yard line.
An impressive interception by Panther defensive end Charles Roselle set up the next score, as quarterback Jack Meservy found Conrado Banky, who made a great reception over the shoulders of a defender for an 18-yard touchdown.
A blocked punt by Middlebury's Jack Pistorius resulted in a safety later in the quarter, giving the hosts a 16-3 lead.
Bowdoin's Nate Richman scored on a five-yard run at the 1:37 mark, before the Panthers answered by covering 72 yards in under a minute, making it a 23-11 contest. A 24-yard pass from Meservy to Will Jernigan was the key play on the drive, as Frank Cosolito scored the touchdown by catching a fade in the right corner of the end zone from Meservy.
The Polar Bears were not done, as Nate Richam raced 75 yards on their first play from scrimmage with under a minute to go, making it a 23-18 game at the half.
Bowdoin went on top late in the third quarter, taking advantage of an interception by Franny Rose on the Panther eight-yard line. Three plays later after a penalty, Austin McCrum found Gregory Olson for a 20-yard scoring strike to put his team on top, 24-23.
Middlebury answered with a quick six-play, 90-yard drive, resulting in a 16-yard touchdown run by Jernigan, who was in at quarterback. The drive was set up by a 21-yard carry by Jacobs and a 48-yard scamper by Scibilia. The Panthers now led 29-24 just 22 seconds into the fourth quarter.
Middlebury gained some breathing room midway through the quarter, driving 48 yards, all on the ground, before Banky scored on an end-around rush from three yards out. The two-point conversion was good as the Panthers held a 37-24 lead they would not relinquish.
Scibilia rushed for a career-high 184 yards on 22 carries with a touchdown, while Jacobs' 105 yards came on 22 carries and were a career best. The Panthers gained 344 yards overall on the ground. Meservy completed 16 of 24 passes with two touchdowns and three interceptions, while Jernigan went 1-5 with 36 rushing yards.
Cosolito caught four passes for 55 yards and a touchdown to lead the receivers, while Banky finished with three receptions and a touchdown on 44 yards. Coltrane Marcus had a big day on the Panther defense, finishing with 13 tackles (12 solo), while Jonathan Hobart had nine to go along with an interception and fumble recovery.
Richam broke the Bowdoin school record for rushing, finishing the contest with 288 yards (227-1st half) on 30 carries with two touchdowns. McCrum completed 20-39 passes for 206 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. Olson (6-58, TD) and Michael Clopppse (4-42) led the Polar Bear receivers. Joe Gowetski earned a dozen tackles (2.5 TFL) in the game, while Nicholas Leahy finished with 10 stops and Rose had a pair of interceptions.
The teams combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense in the game, as the hosts held a 540-495 edge.