Football Goes Out on a Good Note

By SEBASTIAN SANCHEZ

On Saturday, Nov. 11, the class of 2018 played their final football game as Middlebury Panthers, completing their nine-game season with a 35–24 win over the Tufts Jumbos and a 7–2 Nescac record.

The Panthers won the coin toss, opting to kick off to the Jumbos and it paid off. Ian Blow ’18 forced a fumble at the Tufts’ 18-yard line, which was recovered by Zander Bailey ’21. Just like that, Middlebury’s Jack Meservy ’19 completed a 14-yard pass to Peter Scibilia ’21 and a short four-yard touchdown pass to Frank Cosolito ’20, his first of three on the day. 40 seconds into the game, the Panthers commanded a 7–0 lead.

After a four-and-out on the next Jumbo drive, Middlebury started with the ball on their own 39-yard line. Thanks to a Tufts’ 15-yard penalty, several carries by Drew Jacobs ’18 and a 26-yard connection between Meservy and Cosolito, the Panthers found themselves at the one-yard line. After an incomplete pass attempt to Cosolito and a rush for no gain by Jacobs, Meservy found the end zone with a one yard sneak. Carter Massengill ’20 completed the extra point for his second of the game giving the guests a 14–0 lead.

The Jumbos answered on the next drive, going 80 yards on ten plays. Ryan McDonald completed several passes, including a 27-yard and 21-yard find to two different receivers. Tufts’ kicker found the middle of the goal posts to cut Middlebury’s lead in half.

Bad luck befell the Panthers at the start of the second quarter. At their own 39-yard line, Meservy looked for Conrado Banky ’19 down the seam, but the attempt was incomplete. On top of that, Banky was called for a pass interference call and the Panthers were penalized 15 yards. Unable to convert on 3rd and 24th, Maxwell Rye ’20 set to punt, but was blocked and the ball recovered by a crashing Jumbo defense. Tufts scored two plays later to tie the game at 14 a piece.

Middlebury sought to respond, but on the ensuing kickoff, Will Jernigan ’21 was stripped of the ball at the 28-yard line and it was recovered by Tufts. Three players later, McDonald gave the Jumbos the lead with a 23-yard rush, dodging and weaving through the Panthers secondary. The extra point was good and the Panthers trailed by seven.

After suffering a three-and-out, Tufts started the next drive on their 26-yard line. McDonald rushed 25 yards to Middlebury’s 49 and on the next play completed an 18-yard pass; however, it was called back due to a holding penalty. With first and 20, the Jumbos suffered another penalty, this time a personal foul, pushing the ball back to the 24-yard line. McDonald was subsequently sacked for a loss and the Jumbos took a penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct pushing them all the way back to their own 7-yard line. By the end of their drive, the Tufts suffered a negative 19-yard outing and punted.

Meservy took over at the Jumbo 39-yard line and made quick work. On seven plays, he took the Panthers down the field, completing a short pass to Jimmy Martinez ’19, a 27-yard connection with Banky, and a one-yard touchdown rush for Meservy’s second of the game. Massengil’s attempt was blocked, but the Panthers were within one, trailing 20-21.

At the beginning of the second half, the Panthers started in good field position thanks to a 27-yard kick return by Jernigan. At their own 39-yard line, Scibilia rushed for 15 moving the chains to the Jumbo 46-yard line. Meservy moved the chains twice more, connecting with Maxim Bochman ’20 for 12 yards and another with Cosolito for 19 yards. Meservy found Cosolito in the end zone for his second touchdown of the game. Colin Waters ’19 tried for the two-point conversion but failed, nevertheless the guests held a 26-21 advantage and a lead for the rest of the game. Tufts converted on a field goal attempt from 41-yards out for their final score of the game.

Middlebury started their last touchdown drive at the nine-minute mark of the third quarter. Martinez gave them field position at their own 34-yard line. Jacobs rushed for four yards and on the next play, Meservy converted with Martinez on a 44-yard pass, placing the Panthers at the Jumbo 18. On first-and-ten, Meservy tried to connect with Cosolito, but failed. He tried on second-and-ten, as well as third-and-ten with Banky but also missed. On fourth-and-down, Meservy found Cosolito in the end zone from 18-yards out, completing the trifecta. Massengill’s kick attempt was good and the guests took a 33-24 lead.

After Maxwell Rye’s punt put the Jumbos on their own eight- yard line with four minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Panthers sealed the deal. Wesley Becton ’18 sacked McDonald on third-and-eight for a ten-yard loss and recovered the ball in the Jumbos’ end zone for a safety, giving the Panthers their final points and a 35–24 victory.

“Being on the field for the last time was a crazy experience,” said Becton, after his final game in the blue-and-white. “There was a lot of emotions but our team was really fired up and I couldn’t be happier with the way we went out. And to be honest, I’ll probably remember that last sack for the rest of my life.”

Middlebury’s season came to a blissful end, finishing second in the Nescac and closing out their final game with a win.

Jourdon Delerme-Brown ’20 spoke to the impact that the seniors had on the team.

“I think I speak for everyone on the team when I say sending the seniors out on a positive was of utmost importance. They’ve given so much to us younger guys and the team as a whole. They will be missed. They’ve set such a high standard in terms of team chemistry and level of play, we don’t want to let them down by falling off the mark next year.”

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Football Goes Out on a Good Note