Football Rallies in Advance of Amherst Showdown


Emma Stapleton

Jared Lebowitz ’17.5 finds Conor Banky ’19 for his second touchdown of the afternoon to give the Panthers a 17-6 lead. They went on to defeat the Mules 37-6 and move to 3-0 on the season, setting up a matchup with 3­—0 Amherst this Saturday, Oct. 7 , at Amherst.


Hosting the Colby Mules at Alumni Stadium, Middlebury scored 34 unanswered points for its third straight win on Saturday, Sept. 30. The team is tied for first place with Amherst and Trinity and hope to beat “that team in purple” at its field next Saturday.

Middlebury scored the first three points at the eight-minute mark thanks to a Carter Massengill ’20 field goal. The field goal, kicked from Colby’s ten-yard line, was set up by four complete passes from Jared Lebowitz ’18.

The Mules answered four minutes later after Lebowitz fumbled. With great field position, Colby’s completed a pass for their first and only score of the game. The extra point was blocked by Robert Wood ’18, giving the guest a 6–3 lead, but it would be short lived as the Panthers went on to score 34 points, all unanswered.

At the 11-minute mark in the second quarter, Middlebury started the drive on its own 43-yard line. After a fake punt play and 25-yard completion to the Minnesota native Jimmy Connell ’21, Lebowitz found Banky in the end zone with a quick five-yard shovel pass to put the hosts up. Massengill converted the extra point and the Panthers led 10–6.

After a four-and-out series for the Mules, Middlebury started its drive on its 34-yard line. Lebowitz connected with Aidan Power ’20 for 17 yards and Peter Scibilia ’21 rushed three times for a total of 19 yards to put Middlebury at Colby’s 19-yard line. After a Colby timeout, Lebowitz found Banky from 18-yards out for the Texas native’s second of the day. After icing the extra point, the Panthers went up 17–6.

Middlebury did not score for the remainder of the second quarter, as a couple mistakes compounded on both sides of the ball. Even in the third quarter, a couple penalties and a Lebowitz interception were not good signs for the usual crisp Panthers. At the five-minute mark, Lebowitz marched his offense down the field starting at their own 20. Completing passes to Banky and two to Tanner Contois ’18, including an 18-yard pass for a touchdown sealed the drive and expanded the hosts’ lead to 24. Massengill had a great day behind the tee, going five for six on field goal attempts, including extra points.

Leading 24–6 heading into the fourth, the hosts found another surge to their offense after a four-and-out series by the Mules set up a punt from their own 18-yard line. Colby’s punt went 43 yards, right into the arms of Jimmy Martinez ’19, who dodged and weaved his way 61 yards for a Middlebury touchdown.

Four minutes later, the hosts placed Jack Meservy ’19 in the QB slot. He completed a huge 22-yard pass to Power to get the Panthers to the Colby 46, alongside Charlie Ferguson ’21, who rushed for 43 yards, including a 25-yard touchdown dash to put the hosts up for good, 37–6.

Nobody scored for the remainder of the game, and Diego Meritus ’19, who is still injured, commented after the final horn.

“We all agree we made way too many mistakes that game — on both sides of the ball and even special teams. Although Colby is a good team, we are a lucky we were able to get away with some of the mistakes and still win. That will not be the case this week. Any small error can make a huge difference in the game. Last year we beat them by 1 and a block extra point made the difference. We will need to play a fundamentally sound game next week against that team in purple if we want to win.”

The Panthers have no doubt they will clean up their mistakes ahead of one of the biggest games of the season. Banky and Lebowitz need to continue to play the way they are now, as Lebowitz had a stellar performance, passing 389 yard with three touchdowns, moving him up to a career high 40. Banky, who finished with two touchdowns — including the 17th of his career, tying Beau Coash ’17 for the third on the school’s all-time list — and 136 yards, will be an integral part of the offense this coming Saturday.

“[Lebowitz] and I have a developed a solid chemistry from playing three years together,” Banky said. “He is a great leader and elevates everyone else around him, he makes me better. For me, I don’t pay too much attention to my personal stats because a win for the team, is a win for me and that is my first priority.”

The Panthers face their first big challenge against 3-0 Amherst on Saturday, Oct. 7.