MIDDLEBURY, VT—Down 14-9 with 8:30 left in the third quarter, senior wide receiver Matthew Minno received a pass from senior quarterback Matt Milano and took it to the end zone for a 71-yard touchdown, which gave the Middlebury Panthers (3-1) the lead and started a run of 27 unanswered points and a 36-14 win over Williams (2-2).
The Ephs got the scoring started with a powerful four-yard touchdown run up the middle by first year running back Noah Sorrento that came with 14:36 remaining in the second quarter. The drive was set up by a 32-yard punt return by senior Mark Pomella giving the Ephs great field position.
Middlebury was able to immediately, however, away when sophomore Tanner Contois took the ensuing kickoff 96 yards for a touchdown. The Panthers missed the extra point and Williams held a 7-6.
"Momentum changed when they were able to return the kick," commented Eph head coach Aaron Kelton. "We scored early in the second quarter and then they came right back and got the kick return."
The Panthers were able to gain the lead with 6:21 left in the half on a 24-yard field goal by first year kicker Charlie Gordon. Middlebury would take a 9-6 lead into half time.
"I thought the offensive and defensive plans were really good and that showed a lot in the first half," noted Kelton. "So we really felt good about where things were and how things were going at the half."
With their first possession of the third quarter, the Ephs took a 14-9 lead on a one-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Connor Harris.
Later in the quarter, the Panthers took back the lead on the 71-yard touchdown reception by Matthew Minno. The Minno touchdown made the sore 15-14 in favor of Middlebury. The Ephs blocked the point after attempt by Gordon to keep the deficit at one.
However, over the last 19 minutes of play the Panthers' offense exploded. Middlebury's next drive resulted in another Minno touchdown, this time a 21-yard reception.
Then Matt Milano notched his third touchdown pass on the day with a 19-yard toss to first year running back Diego Meritus. Meritus went on to cap the day's scoring with a 16-yard touchdown run with 7:57 remaining in the fourth quarter.
"The difference really was that they got on a roll in the third quarter and their quarterback started to play better," Kelton stated. "We weren't getting as much pressure on him and with the offense that they play he could make some throws."
Milano finished with 319 yards through the air. Minno notched a career high 171 receiving yards and Meritus also set a career high with 118 yards rushing. Middlebury was able to gain 464 yards in total offense on the day.
Williams' senior quarterback Austin Lommen finished the day with 194 passing yards and two interceptions. Harris notched 70 yards on the ground, while Sorrento had 38 yards of his own. Pomella led the Ephs with 64 receiving yards. Williams was held to 286 yards of total offense.
Junior linebacker Addison Pierce led the Panthers' defense with nine tackles, six of which were solos. Junior defensive back Alex Brandeis led Williams with nine tackles including eight solos.
This loss brings Williams to 2-2 on the year and improves Middlebury to 3-1.
The Ephs will face 3-1 Tufts at home next week and the Panthers will travel to Bates to take on the Bobcats.