Throwback Thursday: This day in 1994, Bradford and Smith lead Panthers to victory in opener

This photo, courtesy of The Middlebury Campus’ Sept. 22, 1994 edition, features the football team competing in Middlebury.

Middlebury Special Collections

This photo, courtesy of The Middlebury Campus’ Sept. 22, 1994 edition, features the football team competing in Middlebury.

By Michael Segel

On Sept. 24, 1994, the Middlebury football team dominated in the season opener against Wesleyan, picking up a 20–7 victory. The team went on an offensive barrage early in the game and played solid defense the rest of the way, managing to stay in command of the lead for the majority of the game. Two passing touchdowns earned the Panthers an early lead in the first quarter, leaving the Cardinals’ defense in the dust. Junior quarterback Scott Pokrywa ’96 found running back Justin Burley ’95 on both of these scores, for 35-yard and 15-yard gains respectively.
The offense faltered considerably as the game progressed, but the defense bailed them out. Wesleyan only managed 269 yards on offense compared to Middlebury’s 373, and failed to score a single offensive touchdown. Thanks in large part to aggressive coverage by Middlebury defensive tackle Dan Richards ’95, Wesleyan’s quarterback was limited to 18 completions out of 42 attempts, with only one completion surpassing 14 yards.
Linebacker Bain Smith ’96 led the Panther defense with 13 tackles, a performance which was impressive enough to net him NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week honors. He was aided by defensive back Jeff Mebel ’95, (seven tackles), defensive end Winfield Campbell ’95 (six tackles), and linebacker Shawn Daignault ’95 (eight tackles).
On the offensive end, Burley finished the game with the most receiving yards for the Panthers. The duo of Pokrywa and running back Terrence Bradford ’96 led the running game, combining for 181 of the team’s 289 total rushing yards. Bradford rushed for 102 yards on 20 carries overall.
It was an encouraging beginning to an otherwise lackluster season that Middlebury finished with a 3–5 record.