Throwback Thursday: This day in 1983, defense stymies Amherst despite injuries

By Michael Segel

On this day 37 years ago, a rather injury-battered Middlebury football team resiliently came away with a 16–3 victory over Amherst. The squad was without two starters: junior Rob Bredahl ’85 (just coming off winning Eastern College Athletic Conference Player of the Week) and senior Ken Rapuano ’84. To add to this loss, Amherst came into action riding an 11-game winning streak.

However, Middlebury betrayed no signs of intimidation. On the opening offensive series, Jon Peterson ’86 picked up a huge block, allowing Martin Beatty ’84 to cut behind, avoid several tacklers and ultimately complete a 70-yard run for the touchdown. Peterson secured the extra point, and — 17 seconds into action — the Panthers already led 7–0. Middlebury remained on top when a bad snap over Peterson, recovered in the end zone by Amherst, caused an off-sides penalty. Amherst didn’t score here, but they would cut the lead to 7–3 later on with a 36-yard field goal by Bob Foote. With 15 seconds remaining before halftime, Peterson would respond with a 36-yard field goal of his own, and the Panthers had their seven-point advantage back going into the break.

These photos, courtesy of The Middlebury Campus’ Oct. 14, 1983 edition, features the football team competing in Middlebury. (Middlebury Special Collections)

The second half kicked off with another penalty against Amherst. Receiver Neal Ringquist ’84 fumbled an Amherst punt in his own territory, but a clipping penalty got Middlebury off the hook once again. Middlebury proceeded with a successful drive led by quarterback Tom Mahon ’84 (6–11, 56 yards). Peterson was again in the thick of the action, going on several productive drives, and Beatty and Andy Varney ’84 were both on the tail end of important completions. Peterson’s 2-yard dive made it 16–3, and although the extra point was missed, Middlebury held a very comfortable lead that they never relinquished. The defense stifled any hopes Amherst had for a comeback bid as John Good ’84 picked up several sacks, and Midd’s defensive secondary of Ringquist, Erin Quinn ’86, Andy Lawlor ’85 and Chris Pierson ’84, overwhelmed Amherst’s offense. Even with 33 pass attempts, their offense was shut down. Pierson picked up a key interception, and Quinn broke up three long passes. Although Middlebury led an excellent offensive start, their defense led them to victory.

These photos, courtesy of The Middlebury Campus’ Oct. 14, 1983 edition, features the football team competing in Middlebury. (Middlebury Special Collections)

The 1983 Middlebury football team went on to finish the season at 6–2. Ringquist would topple the single-season interception record with seven catches, and the career interception record with 16. Mahon broke several records for Middlebury quarterbacks with his marvelous season.