CASTLETON, Vt. – Sophomore quarterback Matthew Chaffee (Middletown, N.Y.) hooked up with freshman wide receiver Tristan Weathers (Sewaren, N.J.) for each player's first collegiate touchdown, but it wasn't enough in a 28-14 loss to Castleton University on Saturday night at Spartan Stadium.
Castleton (1-2) reclaimed the Sap Bucket after a one-year hiatus with the victory and the Spartans have now bested their in-state rivals in three of the last four meetings. Castleton junior running back Moe Harris ran for 149 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Spartans offense in the victory.
After Norwich (0-3) went three and out on its first drive of the game, Castleton marched down the field with a seven-play, 79-yard drive capped off by a three-yard touchdown run by Harris. He also opened Castleton's drive with a 41-yard gain on the first play from scrimmage that set the tone right off the bat.
Castleton added two more touchdowns in the second quarter to take a 21-0 lead into the half time. Mitchell Caron threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Jermaine Coggins with 5:14 left in the half to make it 14-0 following a successful PAT from Ryan Payne. Caron also added a one-yard rushing touchdown with 19 seconds left to make it 21-0 and give the Spartans complete control of the game after 30 minutes.
At the start of the fourth quarter, NU made the switch to Chaffee at quarterback and he connected on 15-yard pass to Brandon Mynter (Avon, N.Y.) on his first play of the game.
Harris added another one-yard rushing touchdown with 4:53 left to push the Castleton lead to 28-0.
Norwich finally got on the board with 2:30 left in the game when sophomore running back Connor Bourque (Goffstown, N.H.) punched in a two-yard run to cap an 11-play, 61-yard drive for the Cadets' first points of the game. Clyde Tamburro (Elizabethtown, Pa.) was true on his point-after-attempt to make it 28-7.
The Cadets scored again on their final offensive series of the game with Chaffee hitting Weathers in stride on a fourth and four play for a 58-yard touchdown pass. Tamburro added the PAT to close the scoring at 28-14.
Despite coming up on the short end of the final score, Norwich outgained Castleton 296-274. The Cadets gained 234 yards through the air to just 62 on the ground. NU was forced to abandon the run early with limited success and then trailing by three scores in the second half. Bourque managed 37 yards on 14 carries and a touchdown.
Weathers finished with four catches for 137 yards, which was the most yards by a NU wide receiver in a single game since Oct. 17, 2015 when Zach Allen had a 192 yards.
Junior Kevin Svarczopf (Essex Junction, Vt.) had his best day in a NU uniform, leading the team with 10 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for loss in the game. Senior Zach Adler (Stratham, N.H.) notched nine tackles, while Tyler Jones (Hazlet, N.J.) eight stops.
Norwich now holds a slim 5-4 lead in the all-time series with Castleton. The Spartans are 4-2 in the last six meetings.
The Cadets open up New England Men's and Women's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) league play on Saturday, Sept. 23 at 2 p.m. on Sabine Field when they play the United States Coast Guard Academy for the first time since 2005.