Story and photo courtesy of Trinity Athletics
HARTFORD, Conn. – Junior running backs Evan Bunker (Topsfield, Mass.) and Ben Crick (Middlebury, Conn.) combined for 303 rushing yards and five touchdowns, as the Trinity College Bantams handled the visiting Middlebury College Panthers, 45-7, in New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) football action this afternoon at Jessee/Miller Field. Trinity, ranked No. 1 in New England and No. 7 in the ECAC Lambert Meadowlands Poll, wins its nation-best 46th straight regular-season home game, its seventh game in a row, and its third in a row over the Panthers who fall to 5-1 and see their winning streak snapped at seven games. The Panthers, ranked No. 3 in New England and No. 10 in the ECAC Lambert Meadowlands Poll, had last lost almost exactly a year ago, 42-7, against Trinity in Vermont. Trinity last lost at home in 2001 to Williams, 31-10, and has never lost a home game on turf. The Bantams are now alone at the top of the NESCAC at 6-0 with a home game against 5-1 Amherst next Saturday and a road game to end the season at Wesleyan, also 5-1, in two weeks.
Trinity scored on the game's opening possession on a 22-yard field goal by senior Tim Costello (Solano Beach, Calif.) after Middlebury LB Tim Patricia had a hand in two stops on second and third down from the Panther five- and four-yard lines, respectively to force the kick. Bunker rushed nine times for 46 yards during the 14-play, 75-yard drive. Trinity junior LB Steve Goniprow (Barrington, R.I.) picked off Middlebury junior QB McCallum Foote, who was averaging nearly 400 passing yards per game entering the weekend, on the third Middlebury play from scrimmage, and Bantam senior QB Ryan Burgess (Dracut, Mass.), the most efficient signal caller in the league, found sophomore WR Chris Ragone (Sarasota, Fla.) for a 59-yard touchdown pass down the middle of the field three plays later for a 10-0 Trinity lead with 6:04 left in the opening quarter.
Middlebury marched to the Trinity 19-yard line on its next possession, but Foote was intercepted by Trinity senior CB Nick Campbell (New Albany, Ohio) at the one-yard line in the left corner of the field. Crick scored on a 40-yard screen pass from Burgess and a 49-yard run in the second quarter, sandwiched around a six-yard scamper to paydirt by Bunker, as Trinity outscored the Panthers, 21-0, in the second quarter. The Trinity defense forced three punts, and stopped Middlebury on downs from deep in its own territory after a fumbled Trinity fair catch in the second stanza. Trinity senior S Julian Brown (Philadelphia, Pa.) broke up a pass on 4th-and-7 from the Trinity 10-yard line shortly before halftime. The Bantams added a 66-yard scoring scamper on 3rd-and-26 by Crick and an 11-yard touchdown run by Bunker in the third quarter, while Foote tossed an 18-yard scoring pass to senior WR Zach Driscoll in the third frame before both teams emptied their benches.
Crick finished with 158 rushing yards and 40 receiving yards, while Bunker ran for 141 yards on the ground, caught two passes for 24 yards, and threw a seven-yard pass for a first down on a fake punt to sophomore Case Tanner (Wellesley, Mass.) to set up Trinity's second touchdown. Burgess completed nine passes in 16 tries for 193 yards and two scores, while Ragone led the receiving corps with two grabs for 84 yards. Foote was 18-for-38 for 133 yards with two interceptions and was sacked three times. Senior RB Remi Ashkar had 39 rushing yards on 12 carries, and Driscoll finished with five catches for 52 yards receiving for the Panthers. Goniprow had seven tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss, and an interception for the Trinity defense, while Middlebury sophomore DB Matthew Benedict led all tacklers with eight hits.