Quarterback Will Jernigan scored on a keeper from five yards out with 29.6 seconds on the clock , giving Middlebury (1-0, 1-0) a 17-13 victory over Williams (0-1, 0-1) in the season opener for both teams. The Panthers return to action at Bates next Saturday, while the Ephs will host Tufts.
Middlebury went up 3-0 on a 26-yard field goal from Carter Massengill at the 13:59 mark of the second quarter.
The Panthers made it a 10-0 game on their next possession, going 75 yards on 10 plays. Jernigan connected with Maxwell Rye for 23 yards on the drive, while gaining 14 yards on a third-and-four play. The touchdown came on a flat pass to linebacker Wyllis McKissick (lined up in the backfield), who scampered 18 yards for the score. The linebacker had earned an interception earlier the game.
Williams answered on its ensuring drive, going 55 yards on just three plays. Quarterback Bobby Maimaron threw a 47-yard touchdown pass to Frank Stola, who made an acrobatic catch in the left corner of the end zone. The extra point failed, leaving the Panthers with a 10-6 lead at the break.
The Ephs took their first lead of the game (13-10) on their opening possession of the second half. The 70-yard drive was capped by another connection from Maimaron to Stola, this one from 30 yards on a nice pass over the top of the defender.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Panther defense held on a Williams drive that began at the Middlebury 44. A short punt left the Panthers with the ball on their own 22 with 2:31 remaining. Jernigan completed two quick passes to Aidan Power, before a 15-yard rush moved the ball to the Williams 40-yard line. Jernigan found Maxim Bochman for a dozen yards, before Rye made a great catch on the Williams two-yard line for a 26-yard gain. One play later, Jernigan found paydirt from five yards out to give Middlebury the victory.
Jernigan finished the day 16-33 for 170 yards (TD), while rushing for 82 yards on 21 carries with a touchdown. Alex Maldjian gained 49 yards on the ground on 21 carries, while tight end Frank Cosolito caught five passes for 40 yards. Rye finished the contest with 65 yards on four receptions. Pete Huggins paced the defense with 13 tackles, five for lost yardage, to go along with a pair of sacks. Martin Williams earned eight tackles (1.5 for loss), while Jack Pistorius had seven stops.
Maimaron threw for 205 yards on 12-21 passing for Williams, earning two touchdowns with one interception. He also rushed for a team-high 39 yards. Stola led all receivers with six catches for 151 yards and two scores. TJ Rothmann made 13 tackles for the Eph defense, while Luke Apuzzi made 10 stops, forced two fumbles and recorded a sack.
Middlebury has now won seven of the last eight meetings between the schools and has claimed five of its last six season openers.
Team statistics were very even in the game, with Williams holding slim leads in total offense (306-296) and time of possession (30:40-29:20).