Panther Football Sends Polar Bears Back Into Hibernation



Jonathan Hobart ’21 was named NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week.


The Middlebury football team tacked on its first win of the season for the Panthers’ 2018 home opener, taking down the Bowdoin Polar Bears, 37-24.

Increasing the rush game by 317 yards and total yardage by 247 yards from the previous week, the Panthers defeated the Polar Bears in the last quarter of the game. For the first three quarters, both teams kept one another on high alert. Momentum flipped back and forth as the game approached halftime.

Head Coach Bob Ritter was pleased with how the team kept their composure throughout the bout and finished the game strong.

“I told the team I was pleased at our resilience during the game,” Coach Ritter said. “Despite going behind and having some big plays go against us we kept our composure and continued to play with the intensity I like to see.”

Middlebury capitalized on a few key plays in the first half that provided a cushion for the team throughout the game. Led by quarterback Jack Meservy ’19 in the first and second quarters, the Panthers put 23 points on the scoreboard, along with a safety caused by a blocked punt on part of the defense, which gave the squad some leeway.

Two Bowdoin touchdowns and a field goal, however, kept the competition in play during the first half. By the end of the second quarter, the Panthers had only a five-point lead over the Polar Bears.

 However, a combination of key plays in the fourth quarter and an upheaval of Middlebury intensity brought the Panthers to victory over their NESCAC opponent.

 The third quarter only saw one touchdown. With about one minute left before the fourth, Bowdoin tossed a 20-yard touchdown and completed the two-point conversion to take the lead by one point, 24-23.

Backup quarterback Will Jernigan ’21 took control of the game in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter. The team traveled 48 yards in nine plays to set itself up for a Jernigan touchdown. His 16-yard touchdown run regained the lead for the Panthers, but a failed PAT attempt kept a mere five-point lead. Though the Panthers were winning, they were far from safe.

Around the seven-minute mark, Conrado Banky ’19 drove through the end zone for the final score of the game. The completion of a two-point conversion set the Panthers up for victory, 37-24.

The Middlebury defense put on a show, intercepting three Bowdoin passes, causing a fumble and blocking a punt, all of which set up the offense for scoring opportunities. Jonathan Hobart ’21 was chosen as NESCAC defensive player of the week, in response to his interception, fumble recovery and nine tackles against the Polar Bears. Coltrane Marcus ’20 also posted an impressive performance with 12 solo tackles and 13 total.

Offensively, the O-Line, comprised of Kevin Woodring ’20, Chris Taylor ’19, Connor Roche ’19, Andrew Rogan ’19, Ian Arthur ’19 and Jack Purcell ’20 opened the way for Peter Scibila ’21, who rushed 184 yards on 22 carries, one of which included a touchdown.

According to Ritter, the team will do everything in its power to keep improving.

“[We will be] making sure we are concentrating on the things we can control so we are putting ourselves in position to make plays,” Ritter said.

The Panthers will travel to Waterville, Maine, next Saturday to face the Colby Mules for their third game of the season.