Hartford, Conn. - The Trinity College football team, which won, 40-21, against Bowdoin last weekend to remain unbeaten and tied with Wesleyan for first place in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) at 5-0, will visit the Middlebury College Panthers on Saturday, October 26 at 12:30 p.m. Head Coach Jeff Devanney (8th season, 54-7) and the Bantams are looking for their 15th consecutive victory and for their fourth win in a row over the Panthers. Trinity, 27-9, all-time against Middlebury won last year's game to improve to 6-0, thanks to 363 total yards and five touchdowns from the backfield combination of current seniors Evan Bunker (Topsfield, Mass.) and Ben Crick (Middlebury, Conn.). Middlebury is 4-1 this fall including a 28-17 win at Bates on Saturday and a 37-16 loss at Amherst on October 5. Trinity is currently ranked No. 1 in the New England Division III Poll and No. 4 in the ECAC Lambert Meadowlands Poll, and the Bantams received 23 votes in the latest D3Football.com National Poll and five votes in the latest American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) National Poll. Middlebury is ranked No. 6 in New England.
Bunker and Crick totaled 263 rushing yards and scored the game's first two touchdowns against Bowdoin to give Trinity its 50th consecutive victory at home. Bunker had 154 yards on 25 carries and passed Colby's Aaron Stepka (3,481) on the all-time NESCAC rushing list with 3,613 in his career, while Crick ran 10 times for 109 yards. Bantam first-year QB Sonny Puzzo (West Caldwell, N.J.) finished 14-for-20 for 181 yards passing with touchdown passes of nine yards to rookie WR Nick Gaynor (West Hartford, Conn.), 18 yards to junior WR Chris Ragone (Sarasota, Fla.), and 20 yards to junior WR Adrian Johnson (Philadelphia, Pa.), and added a five-yard touchdown run. Ragone led the receiving corps with five catches for a game-high 88 yards. Junior S Mike Mancini (Rocky Hill, Conn.) was the top Trinity tackler with six, while senior OLB Mike Weatherby (Atlantic City, N.J.) had five hits and one tackle for loss, and junior DE Nathan Cyr (Kingston, N.H.) added a pair of sacks.
Trinity leads the NESCAC in pass defense with 137.6 yards allowed per game (12th in nation)and pass efficiency defense with an 86.6 opponent efficiency rating (8th in nation), and ranks second in scoring offense (35.8 ppg), pass efficiency (147.7 rating, and turnover margin (+1.60, 11th in nation). Bunker and Crick are first and eighth, respectively, in the conference in rushing with 109.4 and 71.2 yards per game, while Puzzo and sophomore QB Henry Foye (Madison, Conn.) rank 2-3 in the league in pass efficiency at 163.2 and 138.0, respectively, having completed 75 of 125 attempts for 970 yards for 12 touchdowns, and five interceptions between them under center. Ragone and senior WR A.J. Jones (Upper Darby, Pa.) have combined for 29 catches for 447 yards and six touchdowns. Junior CB Brian Dones (Philadelphia, Pa.) is one of six NESCAC defenders at the top of the conference with three interceptions this fall and adds three pass breakups, while Cyr is fourth among league pass rushers with four sacks. Mancini, senior LB Tom Haverty (Marion, Mass.), and Weatherby have combined for 101 tackles, and Weatherby adds a team-high 7.5 tackles for loss. Sophomore Kyle Pulek (Cheshire, Conn.) is the second-leading punter in the NESCAC with a 40.2 average per attempt (23rd in nation), and rookie Darrien Myers (North Andover, Mass.) leads the league in kickoff return average with 26.3 yards per attempt.
The Middlebury football squad, under the direction of Head Coach Bob Ritter (13th season) came from behind to win, 28-17, at Bates last weeked to improve to 4-1. Senior captain QB McCallum Foote, the reigning NESCAC Player of the Year, collected NESCAC Player of the Week as well with 305 passing yards and two touchdowns at Bates. Foote leads the league in passing with 344.4 yards per game with 11 touchdowns but has nine interceptions. Middlebury has the league's top offense overall with 425 yards per game but ranks third in scoring offense at 23.8 ppg. Five different Panthers rank among the top five pass catchers in the NESCAC, led by league-leading senior TE William Sadik-Khan (Chappaqua, N.Y.) with 38 grabs for 370 yards and five scores, but no Middlebury rushers appear among the league's top ten. Defensively, Middlebury sophomore LB Tim Patricia (Los Angeles, Calif.) has a team-high 46 tackes and senior LB Matt Crimmins (Mendham, N.J.) adds 20 tackles and two interceptions. Junior Michael Dola (Arlington, Va.) averages a NESCAC-best 41.4 yards per punt for the Panthers.