Player Perspective: Will Jernigan (Middlebury College)

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Middlebury College quarterback Will Jernigan has guided the Panthers to back-to-back wins this fall. (PHOTO COURTESY: Will Costello)

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Middlebury College junior quarterback Will Jernigan has enjoyed a successful start to the 2019 season.

Through two games, Jernigan has tossed four touchdowns, while rushing for an additional score in his team’s season-opening win against Williams College.

Last week, Jernigan helped the Panthers begin their campaign with back-to-back wins for the second time since 2017 by leading Middlebury to a 28-0 win against Bates College.

Jernigan and the Panthers set the tone early against the Bobcats by capping their first drive with a touchdown.

“We strung together some pretty big plays and I believe there may have some penalty yards included (on the first drive, too), but it was just everyone executing,” said Jernigan when discussing his team’s initial series against Bates last Saturday.

“The line was blocking well, I made the right reads, (our receivers ran) good routes and a great series of play calls set the tone for the rest of the game and gave us some confidence and rhythm. And we kept that going all four quarters.”

That confidence and rhythm will certainly be tested this Saturday, September 28th when Middlebury hosts Trinity College, which won its first game of the season last week against Bowdoin College.

Trinity has won the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) the last three seasons and hasn’t lost to Middlebury since 2014.

For Middlebury to be successful against Trinity, Jernigan says the team “must bring the same energy level to each practice” from the past few weeks.

Noontime Sports recently spoke with Jernigan about his progression as a quarterback from last season to now, as well as how run-pass options are becoming the new norm in college football.

Do you feel last year’s experience as a starter has helped you feel more comfortable running the offense/under center? 

“I would agree. When I came in, I played in eight games (as a freshman), but as a sophomore, I really started to get a handle of the offense before coming in this year with complete control. I knew where (I would) be throughout this season, (and we) returned a lot of guys that I am close with, so for me especially I am feeling a lot more confident with the system and the players who are around me.”

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Middlebury College’s Will Jernigan has recorded five touchdowns through two contests this season, including one on the ground. (PHOTO COURTESY: Will Costello)

It is just two games, but your team is enjoying a successful start to the 2019 season. How do you feel the team is doing thus far and do you feel this year’s squad has what it takes to contend for a conference title? 

“We have the players this year and the collective confidence that has translated onto the field.

“This week against Trinity, we have a huge opportunity at home. It is ‘Fall Family Weekend,’ so everyone is chomping at the bit (to get ready for Saturday’s game).

“We haven’t played well against Trinity in the past, but we feel that this year we are (starting to) hit our stride and we’re chomping at the bit to get after it this week.”

How did Jared Lebowitz, who played quarterback when you were a freshman, help you enjoy a smooth transition from high school to college? 

“Having him as a senior (when I was a) freshman (was very helpful). He was able to explain things easier, I was able to watch him (from the sidelines and) we watched a lot of film together, too. We are good friends and he is excited about this season (thus far), and he definitely paved the way (for me to become a starter). He was a really smart quarterback that I was able to learn from.”

It appears as if the run-pass option offense is becoming the new norm in college football, including the NESCAC. What do you enjoy most about this style of offense? 

“That is a good observation. A lot of plays people think are run-pass options, but sometimes they are just a pass-option attached (to the play call).

“We have just started to install RPO’s in the past two years, so it is very cool to be a part of because it is kind of the next step in football in general, not just at the collegiate level (or Division III).

“It is pervasive in all facets of the game, so it is definitely cool to be a part of and it is really fun to run.”

Finally, did you run an RPO offense in high school? 

“No. I ran three different systems in my last three years of high school, which were triple-option, spread-option, and traditional spread. RPO’s were never a thing (we ran), but we would have some run fakes or tradition play-action styles.

D3 Lacrosse: Final Noontime Top 10 Women’s Lax Poll (Wednesday, May 30th)

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By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

Mother Nature extended the NCAA Division 3 Women’s Lacrosse season an extra day and fans were treated to an exciting final contest between Gettysburg College and Middlebury College on Monday morning at Kerr Stadium in Salem, Virginia.

Middlebury stormed back to close the gap from a five-goal deficit to two, but Gettysburg managed to halt the rally with its defense to secure its second-straight national crown. Prior to facing Gettysburg in the national championship, Middlebury defeated TCNJ in the semifinals last Saturday.

The Panthers enjoyed an exciting postseason run, which began with a late-second half surge to beat Bowdoin College in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) finals before knocking-off Babson CollegeIllinois Wesleyan and York College (Pa.). Middlebury will graduate some key players from this year’s squad, but will certainly be back in the mix next season.

Amherst College provided some serious challenges to this year’s national champion – in fact, it almost appeared as if the Mammoths were going to beat Gettysburg and advance to the national semifinals. Unfortunately, that did not happen, but this young squad will certainly be a team to keep an eye on next spring.

Rounding out the top five positions is Trinity College, Bowdoin and Wesleyan University – all three teams appeared in this year’s national tournament. Bowdoin and Wesleyan were not easy outs in the playoffs, so expect both teams to be back in the mix next year for both a NESCAC and national crown.

As always, stay connected with @Noontime_Lax on Twitter for lacrosse news, notes, scores and more!

Women’s D3 New England Top 10 Poll | Weds. May 30th, 2018 

1. Middlebury College

20-3, 9-1 NESCAC

2. Amherst College 

17-3, 9-1 NESCAC

3. Trinity College 

13-7, 6-4 NESCAC

4. Bowdoin College 

14-6, 6-4 NESCAC

5. Wesleyan University

12-7, 6-4 NESCAC

6. Tufts University 

13-5, 8-2 NESCAC

7. Babson College  

13-8, 7-1 NEWMAC

8.  Springfield College 

15-7, 7-1 NEWMAC

9.  Endicott College 

14-4, 8-0 CCC

10. Westfield State 

18-3, 7-0 MASCAC

ON THE RISE: Castleton (11-7, 7-0 NAC), Johnson & Wales (17-3, 10-0 GNAC), Plymouth State (14-0, 6-0 LEC)

D3 Lacrosse: Final Noontime Top 10 Men’s Lax Poll (Wednesday, May 30th)

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By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

The 2018 NCAA Division 3 Men’s Lacrosse season officially concluded this past weekend with Wesleyan University winning its first-ever national title with an 8-6 win over Salisbury University at Gillette Stadium.

With the two-goal win, the Cardinals secured the top spot in our final Noontime Sports New England D3 Men’s Lacrosse Top 10 Poll. Wesleyan began the season as a top team in our poll, but was forced to share the top position with New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) foes Amherst College and Tufts University. The Jumbos secured the second position in our final poll, while the Mammoths slid into the third spot.

Springfield College, which captured this year’s New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) crown, checked-in fourth overall, while Williams College rounded out the top five, checking-in fifth overall.

Conn. College and Coast Guard Academy – two teams we watched more closely this season – secured the sixth and sevenths positions, respectively. We expect both teams to be back in the mix next spring, despite some key graduation departures.

As always, you can stay connected with @Noontime_Lax on Twitter for lacrosse news, notes, scores and more!

Men’s D3 New England Top 10 Poll | Weds. May 30th, 2018 

1. Wesleyan University 

19-3, 10-1 NESCAC

2. Tufts University 

18-2, 9-1 NESCAC

3. Amherst College 

15-4, 9-1 NESCAC

4. Springfield College 

13-6, 6-1 NEWMAC 
5. Williams College 

9-8, 6-4 NESCAC

6. Conn. College 

10-6, 5-5 NESCAC

7. Coast Guard Academy 

14-4, 6-1 NEWMAC

8. Middlebury College 

9-7, 5-5 NESCAC

9. Bowdoin College 

8-7, 4-6 NESCAC

10.   Western New England 

13-7, 8-0 CCC

ON THE RISE: Babson College (9-7, 6-1 NEWMAC), Bates College (8-8, 4-6 NESCAC), Johnson & Wales (9-12, 5-4 GNAC), Keene State (12-5, 7-0 LEC) and New England College (16-5, 7-0 NAC)

D3 Lacrosse: Noontime Sports Women’s Lacrosse Top 10 (Monday, April 30th)

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By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

It’s Monday, which means it is time for a brand new New England D3 Men’s Lacrosse Top 10 Poll.

Middlebury College takes over as our top team in the region following an opening round win this past weekend in the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament. The Panthers will take on third-ranked Trinity College this Saturday, May 5th in one of two semifinals – second-ranked Amherst College will take on fifth-ranked Bowdoin College. Both semifinals will occur in Middlebury, Vermont with each winner advancing to Sunday’s (May 6th) championship. The winner will secure the NESCAC’s automatic qualifier for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Springfield College was the biggest mover, jumping up three spots to the seven position after previously checking-in 10th one week ago. The Pride enter the New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament as a third-seed, but will certainly be a team to watch. They will face Smith College in the opening round on Wednesday, May 6th.

Finally, Endicott CollegeMIT and Westfield State made their initial debut on our weekly Top 10 Poll – all three teams will certainly be squads to keep an eye on this week in their respective conference tournaments.

Stay connected with New England Professional, College and High School coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_Lax

Women’s Lacrosse Top 10 | Monday, Apr. 30th, 2018

1. Middlebury College 14-2, 9-1 NESCAC Last Week: No. 2
2. Amherst College 15-1, 9-1 NESCAC Last Week: No. 1
3. Trinity College 11-5, 6-4 NESCAC Last Week: No. 4
4. Tufts University 12-4, 8-2 NESCAC Last Week: No. 3
5. Bowdoin College 12-4, 6-4 NESCAC Last Week: No. 5
6. Wesleyan University 10-6, 6-4 NESCAC Last Week: No. 6
7. Springfield College 12-5, 7-1 NEWMAC Last Week: No. 10
8.  Endicott College 12-3, 8-0 CCC Last Week: NR
9. MIT 11-5, 7-1 NEWMAC Last Week: NR
10. Westfield State 15-2, 7-0 MASCAC Last Week: NR

ON THE RISE: Babson College (10-7, 7-1 NEWMAC), Framingham State (15-2, 6-1 MASCAC) and Johnson & Wales University (15-2, 10-0 GNAC).

D3 Lacrosse: Noontime Sports Men’s Lacrosse Top 10 (Monday, April 30th)

NS LAX TOP 10 POLL

By NoontimeSports.com (@NoontimeSports) 

It’s Monday, which means it is time for a brand new New England D3 Men’s Lacrosse Top 10 Poll.

Amherst College secured the top spot yet again – the Mammoths began the New England Small College Athletic Conference (NESCAC) Tournament with an impressive win over ninth-ranked Bowdoin College. Amherst will take on second-ranked Tufts University this Saturday, May 5th in the conference semifinals, while third-ranked Wesleyan University will face-off against fourth-ranked Williams College. The winners of both semifinal match-ups will meet the following day – Sunday, May 6th – in the NESCAC championship with the winner securing the conference’s automatic qualifier for the upcoming NCAA Tournament.

Coast Guard Academy moved up two spots this week after finishing its regular season with a solid win over Babson College. The Beavers remained the 10th best team in the region for the second-straight week. Coast Guard will be the top seed in this week’s New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) Tournament.

Stay connected with New England Professional, College and High School coverage on Twitter by following @Noontime_Lax

Men’s Lacrosse Top 10 | Monday, April 30th, 2018

1. Amherst College 14-2, 9-1 NESCAC Last Week: No. 1
2. Tufts University 14-1, 9-1 NESCAC Last Week: No. 2
3. Wesleyan University 13-2, 9-1 NESCAC Last Week: No. 3
4. Williams College 9-7, 6-4 NESCAC Last Week: No. 4
5. Conn. College 10-6, 5-5 NESCAC Last Week: No. 5
6. Middlebury College 9-7, 5-5 NESCAC Last Week: No. 7
7. Coast Guard Academy 13-3, 6-1 NEWMAC Last Week: No. 9
8. Springfield College 11-5, 6-1 NEWMAC Last Week: No. 8
9. Bowdoin College 8-7, 4-6 NESCAC Last Week: No. 6
10. Babson College 9-6, 6-1 NEWMAC Last Week: No. 10

ON THE RISE: Eastern Conn. State (9-6, 5-2 LEC), Endicott College (6-10, 6-2 CCC), Keene State (14-4, 7-0 LEC), MIT (8-7, 4-3 NEWMAC), Norwich University (12-5, 8-1 GNAC), Salve Regina (11-6, 4-4 CCC), Western New England (11-6, 8-0 CCC)