Date Posted:09/22/2005,  1:00PM

Football vs. Middlebury Game Notes

The Bowdoin College Polar Bears will face the Middlebury College Panthers for the 17th time on Saturday, September 24. Gametime is slated for 1:00 p.m.

The teams are headed by former teammates, as Bowdoin head coach Dave Caputi (Middlebury '81) and Middlebury head man Bob Ritter (Middlebury '82) shared the field in their collegiate playing days.

Bowdoin returns a significant amount of offensive and defensive firepower for the 2005 campaign, led a trio of seniors; quarterback Ricky Leclerc (898 passing yards) and wideouts Scott Brisson (17 catches, 306 yards) and Jeff Nolin (28 catches, 227 yards). Senior captains, defensive lineman Mike Stratton (2.5 sacks) and linebacker Shaun Kezer (84 tackles), will likely pace the Polar Bear defense this season. The Polar Bears hope to replace a senior class that included several starting offensive lineman and tailback Rob Patchett.

Middlebury lost both their record-setting quarterback Mike Keenan and flanker Tom Cleaver from last year's squad, but hope to rely on a strong returning defensive corps this season. The Panthers return seven of the team's top eight tacklers from a year ago, including senior captain, linebacker Coleman Hutzler (72 tackles). Offensively, Middlebury does return their leading rusher, tailback Dom DiDomenico (386 yards, three TD).

Live on the web via Teamline, click for more information. The broadcast will being at approximately 12:45.

Bowdoin finished in seventh place in the NESCAC last season with a 2-6 record. The Polar Bears earned victories over Tufts and Bates while suffering overtime defeats against Amherst and Tufts University.

The 2004 Polar Bears were led by a balanced offensive attack that saw them ranked fifth in the conference in passing (163.4 ypg) and fourth in rushing (151.6 ypg). Defensively, Bowdoin was tenth in pass defense (218.6 ypg) and ninth in rushing defense (214.0 ypg). The Polar Bears struggled with the turnover battle, finishing the season minus-eight in giveaway/takeaway, ranking ninth in the NESCAC.

Middlebury finished the year with a 4-4 record, placing fifth in the NESCAC standings. The Panthers earned their .500 finish, defeating every team that finished lower in the pack (Hamilton, Bates, Bowdoin, Tufts) and losing to every team that finished higher (Colby, Amherst, Williams, Trinity).

Middlebury was second in passing offense (223.4 ypg) and ninth in rushing offense (84.6 ypg) in the 2004 campaign. The Panthers' pass defense ranked sixth (172.2 ypg) while their rush defense was seventh (159.8 ypg)

Last year in Middlebury, Bowdoin got off to a great start when Steve Curwen picked off a first-quarter pass and returned it 51 yards for a touchdown, giving the Polar Bears a 7-0 lead. Middlebury answered with a quick strike from Keenan to Cleaver, who connected on a 52-yard scoring pass just 1:26 later to deadlock the game at seven apiece. Late in the quarter, Bowdoin recovered a Middlebury fumbled punt deep in Panther territory and took advantage on a 25-yard field goal by Nolan McNair to make it 10-7 Polar Bears.

Middlebury took advantage of six Polar Bear turnovers and rolled off 24 straight points in the second and third quarter to take a 31-10 advantage. Matt Boyd scored a late touchdown for Bowdoin, making it a 31-17 final.

Dom Dominico finished the contest with a career-high 119 yards rushing for Middlebury. Bowdoin's Ricky Leclerc had 201 yards passing for the contest, including eight tosses for 63 yards to Jeff Nolin.

Bowdoin has played Middlebury just 16 times in the series history- the fewest of any of the Polar Bears' NESCAC foes. The squads first played in 1916 (a 7-0 Bowdoin victory) and did not play again until 1976. The Panthers, who hold a 10-5-1 edge in the all-time series, have won seven straight contests with the last Bowdoin victory coming in 1991, a 27-22 win.