NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University football team got their first win of the 2017 season on Saturday afternoon, outlasting the Mariners of Maine Maritime Academy by a final score of 24-22.
The Cadets utilized their no-huddle offense to jump out to a quick 14-0 lead in the first quarter, highlighted by a picture perfect quarterback keeper play by sophomore Matt Chaffee (Middletown, N.Y.). The 6-4 signal caller fooled everyone in the stadium with a fake handoff to the right before rolling around to the left side for an untouched 33-yard jaunt into the end zone.
Maine Maritime came storming back, however, with a 3-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Corey Creeger to wide receiver Dominic Casale with a minute left in the first quarter. The Mariners followed that with a 3-yard touchdown run by Jacob Doolan and a successful two-point conversion with a mere 31 seconds left in the first half to take a 15-14 lead into halftime.
Answering strongly to start the second half, Norwich got a momentum boost from Nolan Aurelia (Stratford, Conn.) when the senior wide receiver took the opening kickoff 49 yards deep into Maine Maritime territory, setting the Cadets up with excellent field position. NU didn't waste it, as three plays later sophomore Connor Bourque (Goffstown, N.H.) ran it in from 18 yards out to make it 21-15 Norwich early in the third quarter. A Clyde Tamburro (Elizabethtown, Pa.) field goal from 36 yards closed out the third quarter and brought the score to 24-15 heading into the fourth.
Things got interesting when the Mariners punched in a four-yard touchdown run with only six minutes remaining in the game, trimming the Norwich lead to a mere two points. The Cadets didn't feel the pressure though, as they successfully employed the ground game to run out the remaining time on the clock and seal the 24-22 victory.
Offensively, the three-headed rushing attack of Chaffee, Bourque, and sophomore Steve Cuqua (Walpole, Mass.) lead the way for the Cadets. The trio put up a collective 307 yards on the ground and each of the three found the end zone once, accounting for all of Norwich's touchdowns on the day.
On the other side of the ball, sophomore Cahan Quinn (Putnam, Conn.) was all over the field and led the Cadets with 17 total tackles on the afternoon and a forced fumble. As a team, the Cadets had 8 tackles for a loss and saw sacks from both senior Jalen Belle-Walker (Lithonia, Ga.) and sophomore Marshall Watters (Oakland, N.J.).
The Cadets hit the road next week, as they look to keep the momentum rolling against Catholic University, as the 3-4 Cardinals host Norwich for a 1:00 P.M. NEWMAC face off on Saturday afternoon.