Football falls to Middlebury in Old Rocking Chair Classic
Middlebury College's Matt Milano '16 threw three touchdown passes to Matthew Minno '16 and the Panthers cruised to a 37-9 NESCAC win against the Hamilton College Continentals at Hamilton's Steuben Field on Nov. 1.
Middlebury (5-2, 5-2 NESCAC) posted its fourth straight win overall and its 19th in a row against Hamilton. The game marked the 35th playing of the Old Rocking Chair Classic. The Panthers have won 27 of those games, and lead the all-time series with the Continentals, 42-15.
Milano ended up 23 of 30 for 273 yards with four TD passes. Minno finished with five catches for 107 yards and Ryan Rizzo '17 led all players with eight receptions. Rizzo had 70 yards receiving and Brendan Rankowitz '15 added a touchdown catch. Jonathan Hurvitz '17 ran for 49 yards and one score, and Michael Dola '15 booted a 29-yard field goal.
Dan Pierce '16 and Addison Pierce '17 were credited with seven tackles apiece for Middlebury. Addison Pierce, Jake Clapp '16 and Jack Crowell '15 picked up one sack each. Matthew Benedict '15 returned an interception 17 yards and Robert Wood '18 forced a pair of fumbles. The defense allowed just 29 yards rushing and forced five fumbles.
For Hamilton, Chase Rosenberg '17 was 11 of 22 passing for 197 yards with one touchdown and one interception. Colin Pastorella '16 came on in relief of Rosenberg in the fourth quarter and was 6 of 10 for 76 yards. Patrick Donahoe '16 set career highs with five catches for 103 yards, and John Fisher '15 had a career-best 81 yards receiving with one TD. Rico Gonzalez '16 ran for 40 yards.
Michael de Percin '15 recorded a career-high 11 tackles, including six for a loss of 13 yards. Jimmy Giattino '17 made a career-best nine stops and Cade Larabee '16 also had nine. John Phelan '16 intercepted the fourth pass of his career and added eight tackles.
After the Continentals pulled within 10-7 early in the second quarter, the Panthers put the game away with three more touchdowns before the half for a 30-7 cushion at the break.
Kevin Hopsicker '18 set up Middlebury's second touchdown drive of the afternoon with a 40-yard kickoff return to the Panthers' 46-yard line. Milano ended the seven-play drive with a 25-yard pass to Minno in the middle of the back of the end zone for a 16-7 advantage with 12:06 left in the second. Dola missed the extra point.
Hamilton punted from its end zone on the ensuing drive and Rizzo returned the punt 16 yards to the Hamilton 29. Milano completed a 14-yard pass to Hurvitz to the 13 on third down-and-eight to keep the drive alive. Middlebury was 11 of 20 on third-down conversions. Three plays later, Milano found Rankowitz over the middle near the goal line for an 8-yard touchdown catch with 7:43 remaining. Dola added the PAT and it was 23-7.
The Panthers scored again on their next drive, which went 77 yards on 12 plays. The Continentals believed they had stopped Middlebury after a dropped pass on fourth down at the Hamilton 24, but the Continentals were flagged for roughing the passer and the Panthers received an automatic first down. On the next play, Milano threw a 12-yard pass to Minno over the middle and into the end zone. Dola added the extra point for the 30-7 lead with 1:28 to go.
Middlebury also scored on its first possession of the second half as it took the Panthers just 1:57 to go 68 yards in six plays. Milano completed all four of his passes for 55 yards on the drive, which culminated in a 15-yard TD pass over the middle to Minno, who caught the ball at the 5 and ran into the end zone. Dola's extra point made it 37-7 with 13:03 left in the third quarter.
Hamilton rounded out the scoring with 3:27 left in the fourth quarter when Nick Flora '16 and de Percin tackled Middlebury's Andrew Miller '16 in the end zone for a safety. The Panthers had forced a fumble by Pastorella that was recovered by Andrew McGrath '17 at the Middlebury 4 just three plays earlier.
Dola gave the Panthers a 3-0 lead with a 29-yard field goal with 6:34 remaining in the first quarter. Hurvitz increased the lead with his 13-yard TD run on a draw play up the middle with 1:20 to go in the first. The play was set up by Milano's 42-yard pass to Minno.
The Continentals scored their lone touchdown with a flea-flicker on the first play of the second quarter. On first down at his own 36, Rosenberg handed off to Gonzalez, who pitched it back. Rosenberg fired a strike deep down the left side to Fisher. He caught the ball in stride, shed one tackler and sprinted to the end zone for a 64-yard touchdown. Zach Altneu '18 made the extra point. Altneu is 2-for-2 on field goals and has made all 12 PAT attempts this year.
Hamilton travels to Bates College on Saturday, Nov. 8, for its season finale. Middlebury wraps up its season at home against Tufts University on Saturday.