College Football: Panthers Remain Unbeaten, Survive Hamilton 14-7

Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information

MIDDLEBURY — Middlebury remained undefeated on the season as the Panthers downed Hamilton (4-4) 14-7 in the “Rocking Chair Classic.” The 8-0 start matches the 1972 Middlebury squad that finished with a perfect 8-0 mark. The Panthers wrap up their regular season with a 12:30 p.m. kickoff next Saturday at Tufts, while the Continentals will host Bates at noon.

Middlebury scored on its opening possession, driving 60 yards on six plays. Quarterback Will Jernigan hooked up with tight end Frank Cosolito for 18 and 22 yards on a drive that ended in a two-yard touchdown run from Alex Maldjian.

Hamilton forced a turnover later in the quarter, taking over possession at the Middlebury 26 after an interception by Luca Katz. David Kagan carried the ball 11 yards, before going 15 yards through open field for the score at the 3:32 mark, knotting the game at 7-7.

The Panthers answered on their next possession, going 74 yards on seven plays in just 2:06. Jernigan found Maxim Bochman for 25 yards on the drive, before Maldjian ran untouched for a 16-yard touchdown with 1:17 remaining in the quarter.

The Continentals drove to the Middlebury 31 in the second quarter, but Jonathan Hobart forced a fumble to end the drive.

In the third quarter, Hamilton executed a successful fake punt play for a lengthy gain on a rush by quarterback/punter Kenny Gray, but the play was nullified due to a holding call.

Neither team was able to threaten offensively for the remainder of the game, as the Panthers held on a fourth-down play late in the fourth quarter to secure the win.

Maldjian earned his third 100-yard rushing game of the season with a career high 145 yards on 35 carries and a pair of scores. Jernigan was 6-9 for 77 yards with an interception, while Ben Tauber went 4-15 for 35 yards with a pair of picks. Bochman caught a game-high five passes for 58 yards, while Cosolito made four receptions to gain 46 yards, giving him 102 career catches. Defensively, Pete Huggins made seven tackles to go along with a sack, fumble recovery and pass breakup. Finn Muldoon and Jack Pistorius added six stops apiece.

Gray completed 10-28 passes for the Continentals, gaining 101 yards through the air. Kagan gained 82 yards on the ground via 17 rushes to go along with a touchdown, while Will Budington caught three passes for 43 yards. Jeremy Barr made a game-high 14 tackles, James Ball had 11 stops with 1.5 sacks and a caused fumble, while Carmine Bruno also had 11 tackles.

Middlebury outgained Hamilton 320-222 on the day, overcoming four turnovers. The Panthers defense added to its NESCAC-leading sack total with four in the game, giving them 23 this fall. Middlebury now leads the “Rocking Chair Classic”, 31-9.