MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Middlebury quarterback MacCallum Foote threw for four touchdown passes, while Zach Roeder had a huge game defensively as the Panthers (3-4) earned a 40-21 win over Hamilton (2-5) in the "Rocking Chair Classic". The Panthers lead the all-time series 39-15, holding a 24-8 advantage during games with the chair on the line. Middlebury wraps up its season next weekend at Tufts, while Hamilton hosts Bates.
Hamilton scored on the game's opening possession, driving nine plays on 41 yards after a 26-yard kickoff return from Dylan Isenberg. Quarterback Jordan Eck hit Ryan Cray four times for 40 yards on the drive, before James Stanell scored from one yard out.
Middlebury answered with a 13-play, 79-yard drive that took 4:26 off the clock. Foote found Matt Wassel for 22 yards with a 16-yard shovel pass to Remi Ashkar before Foote and Zach Driscoll connected for a three-yard scoring strike. The extra point snap was fumbled, leaving Hamilton with a 7-6 lead.
Following a missed field goal by the Continentals, Middlebury drove 75 yards to take a 13-7 lead. Connections of 17 yards to Wassel and 34 to Driscoll set up a four-yard touchdown run by Ashkar.
Middlebury was unable to take advantage of a nice defensive play by Andrew Donnelly as he stripped Eck of the ball and kept possession with the Panthers taking over at the Hamilton 47. Middlebury went three and out, but a nice punt by Wassel left the Continentals the ball at their own three.
Four plays later, Roeder stripped Eck of the ball, with Donnelly picking it up at the Hamilton eight. Middlebury wasted little time as Foote found Driscoll two plays later with a beautiful fade to the corner of the end zone from eight yards out to make it a 20-7 game with 8:43 left in the half.
Hamilton drove to the Middlebury 18 late in the half, but a second missed field goal as time expired left them a 20-7 deficit at the intermission.
Hamilton took advantage of Middlebury's only turnover of the game early in the second half. Dan Peters picked off a pass at his own 28 and returned it 38 yards to the Middlebury 34. Eck found Kevin Petrick for 23 yards, while Stanell grinded it out on the ground until reaching the end zone on a fourth and goal play from the one.
The Panthers answered on their next drive, benefiting from a pair of pass interference penalties with a two-yard plunge by Ashkar, his second of the game. The Panthers now led 27-14 with 7:25 left in the third quarter.
Middlebury added to its lead on their next possession, as Foote hit Ashkar for a 16-yard screen pass before finding Billy Chapman with a bullet over the middle for an eight-yard scoring strike to make it 33-13 after a blocked extra point.
Hamilton scored its last touchdown early in the fourth quarter, with Eck finding McCullough Shriver for a three-yard score, cutting the Middlebury lead to 33-21.
Middlebury gained some breathing room on its next drive, going 67 yards on seven plays to take a 40-21 lead on an 11-yard touchdown pass from Foote to Wassel, who made a great grab in the corner of the end zone.
Michael Bilodeau's 22-yard interception return and a 48-yard return from Joel Blockowicz ended Hamilton threats in the remainder of the fourth quarter.
Hamilton did not punt in the game, going 5 of 7 in fourth down conversions. The Continentals held a 36:33 – 23:27 advantage in time of possession, while holding a slight 376-363 edge in total yards. The Panthers were a perfect 6/6 in red zone opportunities.
Foote finished the day 22 of 36 for 266 yards with four touchdowns and one pick. Driscoll caught six balls, two of them for TD's, earning 69 yards, while Wassel had five receptions for 66 yards with a touchdown. Ashkar gained 151 total yards, 87 on the ground with a pair of TD's. Roeder finished the afternoon with 13 tackles, two sacks and a forced fumble, while Daniel Kenerson made a dozen stops. Bilodeau finished with nine tackles and an interception, while Jared Onouye also had nine tackles.
Eck completed 33 of 47 attempts for 273 yards with a touchdown and a pair of interceptions. Stanell finished with 100 yards on 24 carries with a pair of scores, while catching eight passes for 40 yards. Garret Hoy ended the afternoon with seven receptions for 60 yards, while Petrick had five for 79. Peters led the Hamilton defense with 10 tackles and a pick, while Camron Waugh made nine stops, one for lost yardage.