Football: Panthers Stay Unbeaten, Edge Amherst in Double Overtime

Courtesy Middlebury Sports Information

AMHERST, MA. — Will Jernigan connected with Maxwell Rye for a nine-yard touchdown pass, leading Middlebury (4-0) to a 34-31 win at Amherst (3-1) in double overtime. The Panthers, along with Wesleyan, are the only two NESCAC teams with unblemished records. Middlebury returns home next Saturday when it hosts Colby at 1:00 p.m.

Kevin Hartley got things going for Middlebury as he picked off a pass on the team’s 42-yard line. Jernigan later connected with Rye for 53 yards down the right sideline, setting up a two-yard touchdown from Alex Maldjian.

Following a defensive stop, the Panthers marched 89 yards on 10 plays, making it a 14-0 game at the 4:47 mark of the second quarter. Jernigan found Maxim Bochman for 9, 10 and 22 yards on the drive, before a 40-yard touchdown run by Maldjian.

Michael Carr intercepted a pass on Amherst’s next possession and Middlebury wasted no time, as Jernigan found tight end Frank Cosolito over the middle for a 32-yard scoring strike.

Amherst got on the board in the second quarter when Ollie Eberth tossed a four-yard touchdown pass to James O’Regan. The extra point failed, as the Mammoths trailed 21-6 with 8:56 left in the half.

Amherst was driving late in the second quarter, but Alex Norton broke up a pass on a key fourth-down play. The Mammoths had one more shot as time expired in the half, but Zander Bailey earned the team’s third interception of the half.

Amherst scored on its first possession of the third quarter when Eberth found Luke Mallette for a six-yard touchdown. The two-point conversation made it a 21-14 Middlebury lead with 9:55 left in the third quarter.

Middlebury looked to answer on the ensuing drive, but a 28-yard field goal attempt by Carter Massengill was blocked.

Amherst later took advantage of a fumble, tying the game with 1:29 left in the third quarter on a four-yard touchdown rush from Brandon Huff.

The Mammoths went on top 28-21 just 3:39 into the fourth quarter, again taking advantage of a Panther turnover (interception). Kellen Field put the hosts on top with a two-yard rush.

The Panthers tied the game with 6:21 remaining in the fourth quarter. The score came when Jernigan found Greg Livingston wide open over the middle, as he scampered 35 more yards for the 54-yard touchdown.

Middlebury put together an impressive drive late in the game, taking over on their own 12-yard line with 3:09 remaining. The Panthers moved the ball down field, including a key 14-yard screen pass from Jernigan to Maldjian. Middlebury later had the ball on the Amherst 10-yard line, but Jernigan saw his pass picked off by John Ballard with 27 seconds remaining, forcing the game into overtime.

In the extra session, with the ball placed on the 25-yard line, both teams were intercepted on their first opportunity. Finn Muldoon picked off the pass for the Panthers.

Amherst had the first chance in the second overtime, as Conor Kennelly converted a 31-yard field goal.

Middlebury scored the game-winner on a third-and-six play from the Amherst nine, as Jernigan rolled to his right and threw across his body to find Rye in the middle of the end zone for the win.

Maldjian finished with 125 yards rushing on 30 carries with a pair of touchdowns on the day. Jernigan completed 17-36 passes for 306 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions. Rye (5-86), Livingston (2-68) and Cosolito (3-50) each had a touchdown catch, while Bochman finished with four catches for 47 yards.

Jack Pistorius made 13 tackles in the game, two for loss, Wyllis McKissick had 10 stops, while Pete Huggins finished with eight.

Eberth went 20-24 for the Mammoths, throwing for 176 yards with two touchdowns and four interceptions. He also gained 55 yards on the ground, as did Huff and Field, who each scored a touchdown. O’Regan led the Amherst receivers with five catches for 74 yards and a touchdown. Joe Kelly registered 11 tackles, three for loss, to go along with a sack and a forced fumble to pace the Amherst defense.

Middlebury outgained Amherst 469-367 on the day. The overtime game was the first for the Panthers since a 23-20 loss at Williams in 2014.