Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Hamilton at Middlebury preview

Hamilton at Middlebury—Youngman Field at Alumni Stadium

Needless to say, this is a must win for the Panthers, and the Continentals can play spoiler as Middlebury looks for its first NESCAC title since 2000. Currently the Panthers are tied for first at 5-1 with Tufts whom they play next week. Tufts is at Colby to take on the Mules, so if both teams win today, as many expect them to do, next week’s game will be for the NESCAC title.

Middlebury comes into this afternoon’s game with a record of 5-1 following last week’s 22-14 victory over Trinity. The game that was played in a driving rain was delayed twice due to lightning which had to throw the timing off for both teams. On his way to Rookie of the Week honors, Donald McKillop was 14-22 for 145 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. David Randolph had 32 carries for 70 yards and Timothy Dillon had a game high six receptions for 64 yards and a score.

The Panthers defense and special teams was very impressive against the Bantams. Middlebury’s defense was able to hold Trinity quarterback Eric McGrath to only 7-30 for 158 yards and an interception to go along with his 68 yard TD strike to Joe Clark. After the middle portion of the first quarter, McGrath was held to only 53 yards through the air. Middlebury was able to shutdown the Bantams running attack as they rushed for only 87 yards. The biggest play of the game for the Panthers came with 11:02 to go in the game when Jack Britton pooched a punt inside the Trinity one yard line. Two plays later Erik Woodring tackled McGrath in the end zone for a safety to give the Panthers a two point lead. Later, Timothy Dillon would snag a 25 yard TD strike from Donald McKillop and the Panthers kept their hopes for a NESCAC title alive. For Middlebury, Erik Woodring had 14 tackles, including three and a half for losses, Nathan Clancy had 11 tackles, and Brian Marcks earned NESCAC Defensive Player of the Week honors with five tackles, a forced fumble, broke up three passes and had an interception.

Hamilton comes into today with a record of 2-4 on the season following their 34-9 loss to Williams. In that game Williams quarterback Pat Lucey was 14-25 for 223 yards and a pair of touchdown passes, and Brian Morrissey carried the ball 31 times for 162 yards and three scores. The only touchdown of the game for Hamilton came with 7:30 remaining when Claudius Zorokong returned a kickoff 83 yards for a touchdown. Williams out gained the Continentals 425-265. Hamilton quarterback Dan Hood was 19-36 for 186 yards and threw an interception.

Hamilton has struggled this season as they have scored only 75 points in six games, but have played better of late. The Continentals opened up the season with losses to Tufts, Wesleyan and Trinity, but have rebounded to win two of their last three, including a 20-0 victory over Colby.

Hamilton is lead on offense by senior quarterback Dan Hood. Hood is a 5’11, 180 pound senior out of Simsbury, CT. For the season, Hood is 82-167 for 968 yards with four touchdowns and six interceptions. His two leading receivers are Joe Rinaldo and Maxwell Foster. Rinaldo is a 5’8, 195 pound senior from Canastota, NY. Rinaldo has 24 receptions for 235 yards and a score. Foster is a 6’1, 185 pound sophomore out of Sherborn, MA. Foster has 20 receptions for 397 yards this season. The team’s leading rusher is Mark Snickenberger, a 5’11, 195 pound freshman from Wellesley, MA. Snickenberger has 69 carries for 341 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

On defense, linebacker John Lawrence leads the team in tackles with 42, he has seven and a half tackles for a loss, has three interceptions and three and a half sacks. Lawrence is a 6’0, 215 pound sophomore out of Baldwinsville, NY. Also look out for safety Matt Pittarisi who leads the team in interceptions with four. There are two Vermonters in the Hamilton defensive starting lineup. Nick Rockwell will get the start at one of the linebacker positions, he is a 6’3, 238 pound senior from Shelburne. Rockwell is fifth on the team in tackles with 32, he also has three and a half tackles for a loss along with an interception and a sack. The other Vermonter getting a start today is defensive tackle Derek Donovan. Donovan is a 6’2, 260 pound junior from Stamford. Donovan has 19 tackles this season with two coming for losses.

By the numbers:

On offense, Middlebury comes into today’s game leading the conference in rushing at 171 yards a game, they are third in scoring with 24 points a contest, and are third in total offense at 348 yards an outing. On defense, the Panthers lead the conference allowing only 12 points a game, they are number two against the pass, are third in total defense, but only seventh against the run allowing 120 yards a game.

Hamilton is ninth in scoring offense with only 12 points a game, are fourth in passing, and are last in the conference in rushing as they gain only 86 yards an outing. On defense, the Continentals are ranked sixth in the conference allowing 21 points a game, and are ninth against the pass, but are stingy against the run as they allow only 83 yards a game.

Keys to the game:

On offense, this may be more of a passing game for the Panthers than what is the norm. Donald McKillop will have to play another strong game, and may see his arm tested more than in weeks past with Hamilton being ninth against the pass, so that will be a key. David Randolph and the running backs will have to be patient against a Hamilton run defense that is one of the best in the conference. The defense will just have to do what has become the norm over the years and that is play hard and aggressive against a team that does not put many points on the board.

Hamilton will have to do what many have not been able to do and that is play keep away from Erik Woodring, the NESCAC’s leading tackler with 13 a contest. But, with guys like Brian Marcks, Brian Young, Alex Buggy and a whole host of others, it is like picking your poison when it comes to the Panther defense. Hamilton may need to do the unexpected against the Panthers and try to trick the defense just a bit. On defense the Continentals will have to try and confuse Donald McKillop, the freshman out of Poway, California. McKillop tossed five interceptions against Williams with a variety of defensive sets by the Ephs. McKillop is poised, but is still a rookie, so he may see some sets he has never seen before.

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