Colchester moved into scoring position twice in the first half and came away empty-handed.
Middlebury slipped into striking distance twice in the fourth quarter and came away with a victory.
The Tigers used a stifling defense when it mattered most and an opportunistic offense down the stretch to dispatch Colchester, 14-0, in a Division I matchup on a frigid Friday night.
“We gave up yardage, but when we had to bear down, we did,” Middlebury coach Dennis Smith said. “We made the plays that kept them out of the end zone.”
Mitchell Clarke uncorked a 29-yard touchdown rush with 5:51 left in regulation and quarterback Tyler Provencher tacked on a 10-yard TD run in the final minute for the Tigers, who improved to 4-3.
The rest of the highlights belonged to Middlebury’s defense, which forced two pivotal turnovers in the first half and pushed the Lakers backward in key spots during the second half.
Colchester (4-3) came up empty the two times it marched inside the 20. The Lakers fumbled on the 14-yard line in the first quarter, and Provencher picked off CHS quarterback Bobby Brigante’s pass into the end zone in the waning seconds of the second quarter.
“You’ve got to give credit for Middlebury playing great defense,” Colchester coach Dennis Perry said. “They always do.”
Colchester’s defensive play was nearly as stingy. The Lakers held Middlebury to only 177 yards of total offense. However, the Tigers cashed in on their only two opportunities in the fourth quarter.
Clarke capped a 10-play drive with a dash to the end zone on Middlebury’s first possession of the fourth quarter.
“The guys up front had perfect blocks,” Clarke said. “My coaches give me a hard time about not being fast, but on that play I was feeling it. Our two linemen pulled and I just followed their blocks. All I had to do was run. That was a lot of fun.”
Provencher’s sealing score came after Middlebury’s defense stuffed Colchester’s fourth-and-9 play on the 42-yard line with 4:10 remaining in the contest. Perry said his first instinct was to punt on the play, but he reconsidered after calling timeout.
“At that point I thought we needed to take a shot,” Perry said. “Usually I’d punt, take our defense and try to get the ball back with two minutes to go, but that wasn’t in the cards the second half. I thought they controlled the clock pretty well.”
Brigante led Colchester (4-3) with 58 rushing yards and completed 8 of 15 passes for 74 yards. David Lacroix adding 50 rushing yards and caught three passes for 19 yards, but had the Lakers’ first-quarter fumble.
Nicholas Felkl picked up 58 rushing yards for Middlebury, which also edged Colchester in the quarterfinals of last year’s Division I playoffs.