Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Middlebury/Amherst preview

Great week last week for the Panthers as they mauled Colby 41-0. I don't think Colby is that bad of a team as they had a strong opener, but I think the variations Coach Ritter has thrown into the offense has made the Panthers more difficult to defend.

For those who may have been listening to the broadcast last week, I had the good doctor, Vermont Ice Storm head coach Doc Perez doing color. The man knows his stuff, and I was quite pleased that the man who can talk for hours without breathing knew when to actually allow me to talk. (Sorry Doc, just picking on you.)

Anyway, here is the preview of the game on Saturday against Amherst. (My notes, but this is actually the way I write up pre-games.) You can catch the game live on ESPN 1490 at 1:05 or on the web at

Middlebury at Amherst—

Pratt Field, Amherst, MA. Capacity 8,000


Middlebury is 2-0 on the season and are ranked sixth in the latest NCAA Division III New England poll. The Panthers are coming off a 41-0 victory over Colby in last Saturday’s home opener. Donald McKillop went 11-14 for 172 yards and threw three TD passes, all to Andrew Matson. McKillop also ran for a two yard score. The big blow came early when on a fake punt, Steve Hardin went 66 yards for a TD which seemed to throw Colby off their game.

On the defensive end, Erik Woodring, the senior from Cos Cob, CT had 15 tackles, including four for lost yardage and a sack on his way to Defensive Player of the Week honors in the NESCAC. The Panthers picked off three passes from three different Colby quarterbacks as Middlebury has now allowed only ten points in its first two games. Middlebury ranks second in the NESCAC in total defense allowing just five points per game.


Amherst is 2-0 on the year after last Saturday’s 30-6 victory over Bowdoin. Aaron Rauh carried the ball 31 times for 159 yards and a score while Eric Mesmith rushed 23 times for 131 yards and a pair of TD’s. Overall, Amherst outrushed Bowdoin 331-23 and outgained them 390-250. There were two other key stats on the offensive end as the Lord Jeffs held the ball for 36 minutes and converted 12-20 times on third down.

On the defensive end, the Lord Jeffs were outstanding in holding Bowdoin to only 23 yards on 31 rushing attempts. A.J. Scola, a junior defensive back from Holden, MA picked off a pair of passes for an Amherst defense that ranks first in the NESCAC in total defense allowing just three points a game.

By the numbers:

Middlebury comes into today’s game ranked second in the NESCAC in scoring offense at 32.5 points a game and are second in rushing at 227.5 yards a contest. The Panthers are second in the NESCAC in passing efficiency and are third in total offense with 377 yards a game. The telling stats for today’s game are on the defensive end where Middlebury is allowing just five points a game to rank second in the conference. Middlebury allows only 169 yards in passing a game to rank third. Overall, the Panthers are second in the NESCAC in total defense as they allow 277 yards a game and have forced five more turnovers than what the offense has given up.

For Amherst, their defense is what tells the story as they are ranked first in total defense, scoring defense and yards against the run. The Lord Jeffs are second in pass defense and are a plus four in the turnover department.

Individually, David Randolph is fifth in the NESCAC in rushing with 68 yards a contest. Donald McKillop is second in passing efficiency going 24-40 for 296 yards with three TD’s and two interceptions. On defense, Erik Woodring is second in the conference in tackles with 25; David Ellis is third in the conference with two and a half sacks.

Amherst has a deadly one two punch in the backfield as they have the NESCAC’s top two rushers ion Eric Nesmith and Aaron Rauh.


This is a game in which the offenses will have a challenge in scoring points with the top two defensive teams in the NESCAC facing off. For Middlebury, expect to see quite a few different sets as they try to contain the running of Nesmith and Rauh. Amherst has only put the ball in the air 37 times this season, but Middlebury will still have to guard against the pass with sophomore Lucas Loeffler at the helm. Amherst will run and run as is evident by the Amherst media guide which says, “Handing the ball off this season will be sophomore Lucas Loeffler.”

I expect a strong game out of AJ Scola as well as tri-captain Rob Grammer along with linebackers Mike Flanagan and Nick Boehm. Again, this is a team that is deadly against the run, so Middlebury’s running backs in David Randolph, Gary Cooper, and Burlington’s Andrew Plumley who in his college debut had nine carries for 40 yards. My prediction will be much like last year, a defensive battle with Middlebury winning 10-7.


Amherst leads the all-time series 19-13, but lost last year’s meeting 7-3 in Middlebury. The defenses were outstanding as both teams gained just over 200 yards in total offense. In that game, Eric Nesmith had 105 yards on the ground for the Lord Jeffs, but the Middlebury defense was able to keep him out of the end zone as the defense sacked Amherst QB Nick Kehoe five times lead by Kevin Ryan’s two sacks.

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