Throwback Thursday: This day in 2005, Lyon spearheads comeback against Tufts

By Michael Segel

One week after being named NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week, Tiger Lyon ’06, led the Panthers to victory against Tufts. (Courtesy photo)

On Nov. 12, 2005, the Middlebury football team delivered a strong 21-16 victory in the season finale against Tufts. Quarterback Tiger Lyon ’06 — the reigning NESCAC Offensive Player of the Week — helped propel the team to victory with 24 completed passes for 282 yards and three touchdowns. Lyon’s spectacular performance was complemented by an impressive performance by the rest of the Middlebury offense.

The Panthers came out of the gates strong when Ryan Armstrong ’06 received the ball from Lyon on a reverse and tossed it 30 yards to Cole Parlin ’06. Four plays later, Lyon threw a five yard touchdown pass to Jamie Staples ’07 for an early 7-0 lead. The lead was quickly snapped when Tufts quarterback Casey D’Annolfo launched a 70-yard pass to William Forde for a touchdown. 

The teams traded sides in the following quarters but weren’t able to create much offensively. 

Entering the fourth quarter, the game was deadlocked at 9–9. But a fumble by Derek Polsinello ’08 allowed Tufts to recover the ball, and the Jumbos capitalized as D’Annolfo found Steve Menty on a 10-yard score to give Tufts a 16-9 lead. With 8:34 remaining on the clock, Lyons completed a 43-yard throw to Parlin for a touchdown. However, the extra point by Steve Haushka ’07 was blocked, holding the game to 17-16 in favor of the Jumbos.

The Panthers increased their lead after Lyon found Armstrong in the end zone with a perfect toss, taking the lead to 21-16, but the two-point conversion failed. In the waning moments of the game, defensive back Phil Ford ’06 delivered his second interception of the day, taking the ball from Tufts at the 37-yard-line all the way to the Panther’s 12-yard-line before being stopped. Neither team scored in its final possession, earning Middlebury a thrilling comeback win in the season finale.

Staples finished the game with 10 catches for 123 yards, and Parlin finished with 92 yards and a touchdown in his last game as a Panther. Ford’s two interceptions loomed large on defense, and Coleman Hutzler ’06 and Eric Woodring ’08 picked up 13 and 11 tackles, respectively. 

Although the Panthers ended the season with a 3–5 record, they finished on a 3–1 run in their final four games. Leaving the season on a high note certainly gave the team reason to be optimistic that the 2006 campaign could be the first to finish with a winning record in five seasons.