MIDDLEBURY, Vt.– Middlebury College quarterback Will Jernigan ran two yards on a keeper for a touchdown with 29.6 seconds remaining in the game to lead the host Panthers to a 17-13 win over Williams College in the season-opener for both teams.
After a scoreless first quarter Middlebury took a 3-0 lead when Carter Massengill booted a 26-yard field goal just over a minute into the second quarter. Forcing Williams to punt on their first possession after the Massengill field goal the Panthers went back on the attack again and extended their lead to 10-0 when they put together a 10-play 75 yard drive.
Jernigan kept the drive alive scrambling for 14 yards when the Panthers faced a third and four. The Panther touchdown came on a pass to Wyllis McKissick who is normally a linebacker. McKissick raced into the right corner of the end zone and Massengill converted the PAT giving the home team a 10-point cushion. Playing mostly at linebacker in the contest McKissick intercepted a pass by the Ephs' quarterback Bobby Maimaron earlier in the contest.
Williams answered the McKissick touchdown on their next possession when Maimaron lofted a pass to wide receiver Frank Stola on the left sideline. Stola leaped in the air and out-muscled the Panther defensive back for possession of the ball. Stola then jumped over the fallen defender and raced to pay dirt. The Eph point after attempt by Andrew Schriebstein failed and the Panthers owned a 10-6 lead going into halftime.
The Maimaron to Stola combo resulted in the Ephs taking the lead 12-10 on their first possession of the second half. The scoring pass from Maimaron to Stola this time covered 30 yards. With the Schriebstein PAT successful Williams owned a 13-10 lead.
The Ephs and Panthers then traded punts until Middlebury took possession on their own 22-yard line with 2:31 left in regulation.
Jernigan connected on two straight passes to Aidan Power and contributed a 15-yard run to move the ball to the Williams 40-yard line. A 12-yard pass from Jernigan to Maxim Bochman got the Panthers to the Ephs' 28-yard line.
Panther wide receiver then Maxwell Rye made a sensational grab of a Jernigan pass and was forced out of bounds at the Ephs' two-yard line, setting the stage for the Jernigan touchdown run.
Offensively wide receiver Frank Stola was the star for the Ephs hauling in six passes for 151 yards and two TDs. Additionally, Stola returned two kickoffs 65 yards and four punts for 41 yards.
"Obviously today was a tough way to finish," said fourth-year Eph head coach Mark Raymond. "Credit to Middlebury. We need to fix mistakes and play a full game.
The Ephs will return to action next Saturday in their home opener when they host the Tufts University Jumbos. This afternoon in Medford, Mass. the Jumbos upset Trinity College 14-8. Kickoff next Saturday on the Ephs' Farley-Lamb Field is slated for 1:30 PM.