College Football: Panthers Battle Past Colby 31-14

Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information

WATERVILLE, ME. — Middlebury forced five Colby turnovers and scored 21 fourth-quarter points, on its way to a 31-14 win over the Mules at Harold Alford Stadium. The Panthers (2-1) return home next Saturday when they host Amherst at 1:30 p.m.

Middlebury punted on its first possession, but Will Jernigan recovered a muffed catch on the punt return. One play later, quarterback Jack Meservy connected with tight end Frank Cosolito on a 20-yard scoring strike. The touchdown was the third in three games for Cosolito and the fifth-straight game finding the end zone dating back to last season.

The Mules drove to the Middlebury 12-yard line on their next possession, but Colin Paskewitz forced a fumble that was picked up by teammate Zander Bailey.

The Panthers looked to increase the lead on their next possession, but were stopped on a fourth-and-goal play from the Colby one-yard line.

Middlebury held a 7-0 lead at the half, but Colby scored on its first drive in the third quarter to tie the game at 7-7. The drive, extended by a roughing the kicker penalty, ended when quarterback Matt Hersch threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Ethan Smith at the 7:12 mark.

Middlebury fumbled the ensuing kickoff, but Colby’s short drive ended when Walter Thilley’s 19-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Michael Carr.

The Panthers took advantage of a Colby turnover late in the quarter, after an interception by Charles Roselle at the Mule eight-yard line. Three plays later, Carter Massengill connected on a 25-yard field goal to put his team up 10-7.

After holding Colby on a fourth-and-two play from the Panther 11-yard line, Middlebury marched 90 yards on eight plays in 3:31, taking a 17-7 lead on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Jernigan to Cosolito with 6:22 remaining.

Middlebury put the game away just over a minute later, when Matthew Daniel picked off a pass and returned it 32 yards for a touchdown, as the Panthers now lead, 24-7.

Colby fumbled its next possession away, as Roselle returned it 14 yards to the Mule six-yard line. Jernigan scored on a six-yard run on the next play, as the Panthers held a 31-7 advantage.

Hersch connected with Andrew DeFranco for a late Colby touchdown, making it a 31-14 final.

Jernigan finished with 174 yards of total offense on the day, rushing for 79 yards on 11 carries with a touchdown. He also completed 7-12 passes for 95 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Peter Scibilia gained 72 yards on the ground on 13 carries. Eight different players had receptions in the game, led by two TD receptions and 30 yards from Cosolito.

Reigning NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week Jonathan Hobart led all tacklers with 10, while Bobby Ritter and Kevin Maxwell each had seven stops.

Hersch completed 20-36 passes for Colby, gaining 182 yards with two touchdowns and a pair of interceptions. Schwern led the rushers with 76 yards on 30 carries, while Ethan Smith caught three passes for 57 yards.

Marcus Bullard and Patrick Sopko paced the Mule defense with eight stops apiece.