Panthers Rout Bobcats on Homecoming


The rain put a damper on the homecoming crowd, but it couldn’t stop Matt Mi- lano ’16 and the Panther offense, as Middlebury routed Bates by a score of 35-6.

By Stephen Etna

While every week the goal is to get a win, when a team plays its homecoming game riding a 26-game winning streak against its opponent, the importance of winning can seem quite certain. Welcoming Bates to Alumni Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 18, the Middlebury Panthers did just that. Firing on all cylinders against the 1-3 Bobcats, Middlebury dominated their opponent from Maine.

Following a first drive on which the offense drove the ball deep into Bates territory before turning the ball over on downs, cornerback Nate Leedy ’17 would continue his impressive season, picking off the Bates quarterback and getting the ball back for the Panthers on Bates’ 33 yard line.

Quarterback Matt Milano ’16 and the Middlebury offense, having been set up with great field position, would not let it go to waste, scoring on the very next play. A strike from Milano to the veteran Brendan Rankowitz ’15 for a 33-yard touchdown, put the Panthers up 7-0 following the extra point conversion from placekicker Michael Dola ’15.

On the following drive, a simple slant route on what should have been an easy tackle resulted in Bates’ Mike Tomaino taking the pass 74 yards for the score. Despite missing the extra point, the lapse in coverage noticeably aggravated the Middlebury defense, and it showed, with the Panthers defense playing angry the rest of the game.

Starting the second quarter with possession of the ball, Middlebury’s offense seemed energized by the strong play on defense. Driving the ball from midfield at will, Milano found his target Matt Minno ’16 on a 21-yard touchdown throw to cap the drive. Using his size to advantage, Minno displayed great body control on the score, which put the Panthers up 14-6.

After several deep drives from Middlebury, the Panthers would score again shortly before the half. With less than a minute remaining before play would stop, outside linebacker Jake Vacovec ’15 showed great awareness in falling on a botched snap in the end zone, an action easier said than done considering the confusion following the fumble. After going up 21-6 on that play, Middlebury would cruise into the half comfortably in the driver’s seat.

The second half of play would prove reminiscent of the first. Following several drives in which Bates could not muster any progress against the tough Middlebury defense, the Panther offense would piece together another scoring drive, with Milano finding Rankowitz again for a two-yard score. However, special mention goes to receiver Ian Riley ’16, who again showed a propensity for making clutch catches to prolong drives, especially on his 11-yard grab on a tough fourth-and-nine conversion. Following a Bates drive on which the

Bobcats yielded yet another sack to Tim Patricia ’16 and, following great pressure, another big play to Vacovec, this time an interception, Middlebury would take over early in the fourth quarter at their own 40.

After a pass underneath to Ryan Rizzo ’17, Milano would go over the top and find deep threat Minno for his second score of the day, putting the Panthers up 35-6. Middlebury would ride this game out for a blowout win.

On a day in which the defense forces multiple turnovers and even scores a touchdown, the quarterback throws for four touchdowns, and the offense moved the ball at will, it is hard to find any room for criticism.

Middlebury moves on to face a tough Trinity football team on Saturday, Oct. 25 at the Bantams’ home field.

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