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Wednesday, Dec 6, 2023

Tauber and Wood key to football’s early success

Donovan Wood ’24 catches a touchdown pass in Middlebury’s win over Wesleyan.
Donovan Wood ’24 catches a touchdown pass in Middlebury’s win over Wesleyan.

On Sept. 24, Middlebury Football cruised to victory in their exciting home opener. The team looked confident and driven in a cohesive win over the Wesleyan Cardinals (2–1) on Youngman Field.

According to Leo Urena ’24, that has a lot to do with off-field cohesion and newfound trust.

“Our team is a lot closer this year,” Urena said. “With basically all the guys returning, we were able to make a tight knit group that holds each other accountable.”

The Panthers helped each other out on both sides of the ball last Saturday. The game began tight, with no score and an interception by Dave Filias ’25 in the first quarter. Only two minutes into the second quarter, quarterback Ben Tauber ’22.5 connected with receiver Donovan Wood ’24 for a 5-yard touchdown pass to finish a 46-yard drive that gave Middlebury the lead.

Middlebury’s defensive line forced a punt that began the march down the field. Not long after, the Panthers pushed the score to 14–0 with a 52-yard drive punctuated by another passing touchdown from Tauber.  

Wesleyan scored on a passing touchdown at the end of the quarter, thanks to a 92-yard drive led by quarterback Logan Tomlinson to make it 14–7.  

After a third quarter fumble by Tauber gave Wesleyan better field position, the Cardinals kicked a field goal to inch closer to the Panthers and make the score 14–10,but Middlebury responded quickly.

 Tauber and Wood came through again in the fourth quarter to complete an 11-yard touchdown that finished an 80-yard drive. Leo Urena ’24 attributes the passing success so far this year to dedication on the practice field. 

“They’re such a tight group that it allows for great opportunities,” Urena said. “Throughout practice I’ll always see the wideouts and the QB’s together.” 

That synergy showed on the field, as Tauber finished the day with three touchdowns and 271 passing yards, and Wood finished with 130 receiving yards and two touchdowns.

Urena also highlighted senior Greg Livingston ’22.5 for leading the team and keeping everyone driven towards winning. As they focus on building better team culture this season, the team has also brought in mental health group Hilinski’s Health to promote positivity on the bench.

The Panthers improved to 3–0 after this weekend’s win over Bowdoin,  and they look to continue their early success over family weekend, as they host Williams on Saturday, Oct. 8.

Ryan Heinzerling

Ryan Heinzerling '24 (he/him/his) is one of the Sports Editors!  

He's studying English and Political Science. Outside of his studies, Ryan is also a member of the Middlebury College Ski Patrol, has a radio show at WRMC, and spent this previous summer working as a Corporate Partners Intern at the New York Mets!