Football: Springfield tops Norwich, 33-16

Football: Springfield tops Norwich, 33-16

NORTHFIELD, Vt. - The Norwich University football team fell to New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) rival Springfield College on Saturday afternoon, as the Pride employed their trademark rushing attack to grind out a 33-16 victory.

Norwich got on the board first, as they drove 74 yards in 10 plays to set up a 23-yard field goal from Clyde Tamburro (Elizabethtown, Pa.) to take an early 3-0 lead. 

Springfield's defense got to Norwich quarterback Matt Dunn (Rockland, Mass.) late in the first quarter, as David McMullen pulled down an interception to set up Springfield in Norwich territory. The ensuing drive went three and out, but the Norwich punt return unit fumbled the kick and set Springfield up on the Norwich five-yard line. On their second play from scrimmage, Hunter Belzo found the endzone to make it 7-3 Pride. 

After trading punts for a few series, Springfield pulled down another interception, this time from Ryan McCarthy, and set up their offensive unit on the Norwich 36-yard line. Six plays and less than two minutes later, Belzo found the endzone again to extend the Springfield lead to 14-3. 

Neither team got anything going for the rest of the half, and Norwich entered the locker room trailing by 11. 

Springfield found the endzone midway through the third quarter, this time by Tim Callahan from a yard out, to make it 21-3. 

Needing a score, Connor Bourque (Goffstown, N.H.) took the next Springfield kickoff back 30-yards to set up the offensive unit on the 38-yard line. Norwich pieced together a seven play, 63-yard drive highlighted by a 31-yard connection between Dunn and Lavontae Decius (North Lauderdale, Fla.) and capped by a five-yard touchdown pass to Manni Romero (Phillipsburg, N.J.) to cut the lead to 21-9. The Cadets extra-point attempt, however, was blocked and returned the length of the field to give Springfield two additional points and make it 23-9. 

After the deflating extra-point fiasco, Norwich needed a big play to regain momentum. They got it from Kevin Svarczopf (Essex Junction, Vt.) and Martin Bailey (Bedford Corners, N.Y.), as Svarczopf forced a fumble that Bailey scooped up and ran 15-yards back for a Norwich touchdown. After the extra-point, Norwich found themselves trailing by just seven points. 

On the next Springfield drive, Norwich came up with a huge play again. This time it was Michael Corinna (Milford, Mass.) picking off Hunter Belzo, who had to step in for the injured Chad Shade at quarterback, and giving Norwich possession and a chance at tying the game. 

The Cadets took a shot deep on the fourth play of their following drive, but Ryan McCarthy found his way to the ball again for the Pride and pulled down the third Matt Dunn interception of the day. Springfield took their next possession 48-yards in seven plays to make it 30-16, and after shutting down the next Cadets drive booted home a 25-yard field goal to make it 33-16 and put the game away. 

Norwich's offense struggled all day to find their offensive rhythm, totaling just 199 yards on the day and going 0 for 10 on third down. Aaron Conner (Daytona Beach, Fla.) had the majority of the offense with 110 yards and 22 attempts, while Matt Dunn went 12-25 for 129 yards, a touchdown, and three interceptions. 

The Pride ended up with three rushers eclipsing the 100-yard mark, as Belzo, Callahan, and Jared Baron all got into triple digits. Baron rushed for a game-high 121 yards, with Callahan close behind with 111 yards and a touchdown, while Belzo rushed for an even 100 yards and found the endzone three times. 

Defensively, Ferron Green (Suitland, Md.) led Norwich with 13 tackles on the day and Kevin Svarczopf put up 12 tackles and a forced fumble. Michael Corinna pulled down an interception, while Tavares Ward (Sunrise, Fla.) forced a fumble and made several key tackles. 

For Springfield, reigning NEWMAC Defensive Player of the Week AJ Smith led the defense with eight tackles, two sacks, and a blocked kick. As a team, Springfield put up five sacks and three interceptions while holding Norwich to under 200 yards of total offense. 

The loss drops the Cadets down to 1-4 overall on the year and 0-2 in the NEWMAC, while Springfield improves to 4-1 and 2-0 in the conference. 

It will be awhile for the Cadets before they return to Haynes Family Stadium, as they hit the road next week for a matchup with Merchant Marine next Saturday. After that, Norwich will hit their bye week before taking on Maine Maritime on the road on October 20 before returning home on October 27 to take on Catholic.