Matt Coyne '12 Scores Winning TD with 1:57 Left as Football Opens Season with 16-15 Victory over Middlebury

Quarterback Matt Coyne '12 (#7, photo) scored on a draw play running to the right from nine yards out with 1:57 left in the contest to lift homestanding Wesleyan past Middlebury in the season opener for both squads Sat., Sept. 24, 16-15.  Middlebury led, 15-7, entering the final period but a 34-yard field goal by Sebastian Aguirre '14 with 13:04 to go in the game cut the margin to 15-10.  Middlebury punted twice to sandwich a pass interception by Jake Bussani '14, his second of the contest, as the Panthers were unable to score in their next three possessions.  Wesleyan, after holding Middlebury at its own 11-yard line, got a 26-yard punt return from Te'Rhon O'Neal '13 to give the Cardinals field position at the Middlebury 21-yard line with 3:23 to go.  Coyne, who ran for a team-high 80 yards on 12 carries, threw for six yards to Kevin Hughes '14 and ran twice for 20 yards to find the endzone as Wesleyan also had a five-yard penalty during the game-winning drive.  Coyne completed 11 of 21 passes for 98 yards on the day.

Middlebury relied on the offense punch of QB McCallum Foote, who connected on 26 of 50 tries for 228 yards and a TD, that from six yards out just before the end of the first half as Zach Dricoll made the catch with :28 left to give the Panthers an 8-7 halftime edge.  Driscoll had five catches for 59 yards.  Nick Resor led Middlebury with six receptions, good for 69 yards.  Remi Ashkar handled virtually all of the rushing for Middlebury with 33 attempts for 101 yards and a two-yard TD burst at 8:43 of the third period, upping Middlebury's lead to 15-7.   Middlebury got its first points of the game after a splendid punt by Driscoll was downed at the Wesleyan one-yard line.   A screen pass attempt by Wesleyan on third down was stuffed in the endzone by Matt Crimmins and Alex Englert for a safety with 2:42 left in the second quarter, making the score 7-2.

Wesleyan had struck first on its initial possession as Coyne engineered a 71-yard march in 5:13 for a 7-0 lead.  A five-yard run by Vince Miller '12 put the finishing touches on the 11-play series.  Miller finished with 17 runs for 64 yards while LaDarius Drew '15 added 62 yards on eight carries as Wesleyan collected 221 yards on the ground to just 100 by Middlebury.  The Panthers' 130-yard margin in passing yards gave them a slight lead in total yards for the game, 328 to 319.  

Middlebury had a final possession in the game following the Cardinals' go-ahead score but four straight incompletion turned the ball over the Wesleyan on downs and the Cardinals were able to run out the clock.

Defensively, Bussani had the two interceptions for Wesleyan, the first coming in the endzone during he first quarter after Middlebury reached the Cardinals' 14-yard line.  He also made seven tackles and broke up two other passes.  Justin Freres '11 led Wesleyan with 11 stops while Brett Bandazian '12 was in on 10 tackles.  Middlebury got 10 tackles apiece from Zach Roeder and John Wiet.

Wesleyan now leads the all-time series vs. Middlebury, 23-20-2, and snapped a three-game skid vs. the Panthers.  Up next for the Cardinals is a trip to Hamilton for a game Sat., Oct. 1.  The game will feature both LiveStats < click here > and a video webcast < click here >.