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Trinity Football Makes It 16 Wins In A Row With Triumph At Middlebury

Offensive Lineman Austin Baiardi '20 scored his first career touchdown
Offensive Lineman Austin Baiardi '20 scored his first career touchdown

Middlebury, Vt. - Junior RB Max Chipouras (Longmeadow, Mass.) rushed 33 times for 182 yards and senior tri-captain QB Sonny Puzzo (West Caldwell, N.J.) ran for a pair of first-half touchdowns to lead the visiting Trinity College Bantams to a 27-5 victory over the Middlebury College Panthers in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football action this afternoon at Youngman Field.  Trinity wins its 16th game in a row and maintains its one-game lead in the NESCAC after Amherst with two weeks left to play.  The Bantams, now 7-0, can clinch their second-straight league title with a win next week against the Mammoths in Amherst.  Middlebury drops to 5-2 and hosts Hamilton next Saturday.

Trinity scored on its opening drive, going 79 yards on 11 plays. Chipouras gained 43 yards on the ground before Puzzo scored on a keeper from six yards out.  Middlebury cut the lead to 7-3 on a 28-yard field goal from Carter Massengill with 1:05 remaining in the quarter. Diego Meritus gained 34 yards on the ground during the 79-yard drive.  The Bantams added to their lead early in the second quarter on another six-yard rush from Puzzo into the end zone, as he outstretched his arms for the score. Puzzo helped his own cause with 44 yards on the ground during the drive.  Middlebury’s Matthew Daniel blocked a punt at the Trinity 18-yard line midway through the quarter, and teammate Ian Blow returned the ball to the five-yard line. Four plays later, the Trinity defense had allowed just a single yard, and Panthers turned the ball over on downs. Bantam senior DE Brandon Blaise (Morristown, N.J.) had a three-yard tackle for loss on third down and junior OLB Dago Picon-Roura (Roslindale, Mass.) broke up a pass in the end zone on fourth down.  The Bantams fumbled on first down, however, and Robert Wood tackled Puzzo in the end zone for the safety to make it a 14-5 game with seven minutes left in the first half.  Trinity had one more drive into Middlebury territory late in the second quarter but turned the ball over on downs thanks to a botched field goal at the Panther 21-yard line.

Trinity took advantage of a pair of Panther turnovers to start the second half. Bantam sophomore DB Matt Patry (Medfield, Mass.) caused and recovered a fumble at the Middlebury 46-yard line that led to a 27-yard field goal from junior Eric Sachse (Jefferson, Mass.).  Picon-Roura picked off a pass on Middlebury’s next drive, returning it to the Panther nine-yard line to set up the third Trinity on a razzle-dazzle play. Puzzo faked a hand-off right on third down and tossed a backwards pass left to sophomore OT Austin Bairdi (Smithtown, N.Y.) who rumbled in for a two-yard touchdown, making it a 24-5 game with 8:01 remaining in the third quarter.  Middlebury drove to the Trinity 14-yard line on its next drive, but Trinity senior S John Medina (Pinecrest, Fla.) kept the home team out of the end zone with an interception and 32-yard return out of the end zone.  Sachse added a 33-yard field goal at the 12:01 mark of the fourth quarter, while Trinity stifled two more Panther drives.  Sophomore DE Devyn Perkins (Brookline, Mass.) forced a fumble on one drive and junior DT Corey Jean Jacques (Haverhill, Mass.) had a four-yard tackle for loss inside his own 10-yard line to help turn the Panthers over on downs on their last red-zone opportunity of the day.

Puzzo totaled 188 yards through the air and on the ground, going 9-for-20 for 112 passing and gaining 76 yards on a dozen carries. Chipouras finished four yards shy of his career-high rushing total of 186 achieved in last year's 49-13 win over the Panthers in Hartford, while sophomore WR Koby Schofer (Northbridge, Mass.) led the recievers with seven catches for 85 yards. Picon-Roura led all tacklers with 11 stops, including a pair of pass break-ups and an interception.  Middlebury’s Jack Meservy made his first-career start, replacing injured quarterback Jared Lebowitz. He finished the day 18-42 for 243 yards with a pair of interceptions. Meritus gained 42 yards on the ground, while Maxim Bochman paced the receivers with four catches for 51 yards. Wesley Becton led the Middlebury defense with nine tackles, and Kevin Maxwell added eight, as each player had two stops for lost yardage.