College Football: Panthers Win 35-17 at Hamilton

Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information

Clinton, NY. — Middlebury scored a pair of second-half touchdowns to pull away from Hamilton (2-5), earning a 35-17 road victory in the “Rocking Chair Classic,” and now hold a 25-8 all-time advantage. Middlebury wraps up its season next week when it hosts Tufts at 12:30 p.m.

Middlebury went on top 7-0 on a 49-yard connection from Will Jernigan to Conrado Banky at the 10:12 mark of the first quarter. Hamilton fumbled on its next possession, as the Panthers took advantage with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Jernigan to tight end Frank Cosolito.

The Continentals got on the board early in the second quarter when Joe Park scored on a six-yard rush into the end zone, making it a 14-7 game at with 14:27 mark. The drive covered 85 yards on five plays and was sparked by a 46-yard rush by quarterback Kenny Gray.

The Panthers took a 21-7 lead with 3:56 remaining in the half, completing a eight-play, 79-yard drive. Jernigan found Banky for 22 yards on the drive and Jimmy Connell for 10, before connecting with Cosolito on a 29-yard scoring strike.

Hamilton came right back when Park scored on another short rush, this one from four yards out, making it a 21-14 game with just 1:30 remaining in the half.

Justin Leigh picked off a Jernigan pass on the Panthers’ next drive, returning it to the Middlebury 40. The Continentals drove to the 13, before Sam Thoreen connected on a 30-yard field goal, making it a 21-17 game at the intermission.

Middlebury extended its lead early in the third quarter, completing a nine-play, 91-yard drive. Jernigan found Banky for 26 yards, before hooking up with running back Peter Scibilia for a seven-yard touchdown pass.

The game remained at 28-17 until the late in the fourth quarter, when Middlebury sealed the victory. Scibilia again capped the drive, scoring on a nine-yard rush with just 1:30 remaining.

Jernigan finished the game 21-26 for 246 yards with a career best four touchdown passes against a pair of interceptions. He also rushed for 32 yards, while Drew Jacobs gained 65 yards on 14 carries. Banky finished the game with three catches for 97 yards and a touchdown, moving into second on the school’s all-time list with 2,096 receiving yards. Cosolito caught six passes for 69 yards with a pair of touchdowns. He now has 15 career touchdowns, tying him for fifth all time at Middlebury. Pete Huggins and Ian Blow each made six tackles and had an interception for the Panther defense.

Gray finished 19-40 for the Continentals, throwing for 180 yards, rushing for 60, while tossing a pair of interceptions. Park finished with 80 yards and two touchdowns on the ground on 18 carries, while Joe Schmidt caught a game-high eight passes for 62 yards.

The game was the 34th meeting of the “Rocking Chair Classic”. The idea originated in 1980 by Hamilton’s Mac Bristol ’43 and Middlebury’s John Kirk ’39, two friends who were interested in heating up the rivalry between the two schools. Following the game each year, the winning team takes possession of a rocking chair that is displayed in their athletic department for the year. The school then brings the chair to the game with the victor taking it home each year. Middlebury leads the “Rocking Chair Classic” 25-8.