NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University football team battled St. Lawrence tooth and nail for 60 minutes, but ultimately fell 17-10 on Saturday afternoon in non-conference action on Sabine Field at Haynes Family Stadium.
Playing for the 40th consecutive season and the inaugural time for the Hoffman Cup, St. Lawrence (1-1) maintained its recent control of the series with its third straight win behind 177 yards rushing from junior running back Rodrick Payne.
Payne cemented his game most valuable player nod with 72 yards in the final quarter to ice the game late for the Saints.
Norwich (0-2) got 134 yards on 13 carries from sophomore running back Connor Bourque (Goffstown, N.H.), who also scored the Cadets' lone touchdown of the game. Bourque earned MVP honors for Norwich, who replaced the United States Merchant Marine Academy as St. Lawrence's Hoffman Cup opponent after the two teams did not schedule each other this season.
Norwich struck first with 2:49 left in the first quarter with Bourque bursting through a hole on the right side of the line and taking it all the way to the end zone from 48 yards out to cap a five-play, 79-yard drive. Freshman Clyde Tamburro (Elizabethtown, Pa.) added an extra point to make it 7-0 Norwich.
St. Lawrence answered with 11:49 left in the second quarter with Cameron Edwards taking a 17-yard screen pass from Sean Richardson to the end zone to knot the game up 7-7 after a successful Daly Hebert kick. The Saints capitalized on a NU fumble to score on three plays from 24 yards out.
The Saints took their first lead of the game with 51 seconds left with Richardson finding Travis Marnell open in the left corner of the end zone for a 15-yard touchdown pass to make it 14-7 following a successful Hebert point-after-attempt.
Marnell made a great grab to maintain possession and get both feet in with two Norwich defensive players swarming around him.
Norwich cut into the deficit with 5:26 left in the third quarter with Tamburro drilling a 24-yard field goal to make it 14-10 and cap a five-play, 68-yard drive. Tamburro stayed perfect on the year in field goal attempts with his third straight make.
St. Lawrence regained the seven-point lead as time expired on its next possession in the third quarter with Hebert connecting for a 21-yard field goal to push the lead to 17-10. Hebert's kick capped a 13-play, 71-yard drive.
Neither side was able to score in the fourth quarter as St. Lawrence improved to 33-29 in the all-time series vs. Norwich.
Richardson finished 17-for-31 passing for 167 yards and threw for two touchdowns for the Saints. Vincenzo Ferraro had eight receptions for 56 yards to lead the St. Lawrence receivers. Marnell finished with three catches for 54 yards and Edwards also had three grabs for 38 yards.
Norwich senior quarterback Philippe Bazinet (Otterburn Park, Quebec) ran for 60 yards on 14 carries. He also was 4-for-10 through the air for 21 more yards. Sophomore Steve Cuqua (Walpole, Mass.) added 40 yards on 14 carries for the Cadets. Bourque had 221 all-purpose yards as he added 69 kick return yards and 18 punt return yards to his 134 rushing.
Defensively, Norwich was led for the second straight week by sophomore linebacker Jonathan Moltimer (Boca Raton, Fla.), who tallied five solo tackles and 11 total. He also had one of Norwich's eight pass breakups on the day. Senior defensive back Austin Roberts (East Bridgewater, Mass.) added nine tackles and two pass breakups.
Senior Zach Adler (Stratham, N.H.) totaled nine tackles, including a team-leading 1.5 for loss. Sophomore defensive back Michael Corinna (Milford, Mass.) had eight tackles and a team-leading three pass breakups.
St. Lawrence was led defensively by junior Brendan Donahoe's 11 tackles, one fumble recovery, one interception and pass breakup. Two-time Hoffman Cup MVP Skyler Williamson added 10 tackles for the Saints. Tyler Mirabile added six tackles and a sack.
Norwich will close out the non-conference portion of its season with another trophy rivalry game against intrastate rival Castleton University in the annual Battle for the Maple Sap Bucket next Saturday at 6 p.m. in Castleton, Vt.
Norwich is 5-3 all-time against Castleton and currently holds the Maple Sap Bucket after last year's 35-27 thrilling win over the Spartans in the season finale on Sabine Field at Haynes Family Stadium.