NORTHFIELD, Vt. - In the middle of near-whiteout conditions at Sabine Field, the Norwich University football team battled the Catholic University Cardinals to a 31-0 victory in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) play on Saturday afternoon.
The Cardinals started the day with possession, but their opening drive sputtered out after three plays. After a shanked punt that traveled a mere 13-yards, Norwich set up on the Catholic 46-yard line for their first drive. It didn't take long, as junior Aaron Conner (Daytona Beach, Fla.) took the very first play from scrimmage all the way to the end zone with a 46-yard rush to paydirt to put Norwich ahead early.
As the snow began to fall quicker and quicker at Sabine Field, the two teams traded punts and turnovers for the rest of the first quarter. After another lackluster punt attempt from Catholic, the Cadets found themselves set up only 28-yards out of the endzone for their first drive of the second quarter. The offense stalled after three plays, but Clyde Tamburro (Elizabethtown, Pa.) did his job and hit the 41-yard field goal to make it 10-0 Norwich, the score that held into the halftime break.
Norwich opened with possession in the second half, and a near carbon copy of their first series of the first half took place as Aaron Conner took the third play from scrimmage 52-yards to the house for his second score of the day.
After Norwich's defense made a stand on a trick fourth down play attempt from Catholic, the Norwich offense took the field on the Catholic 18. It only took six plays and three minutes before Steve Cuqua (Walpole, Mass.) punched it in from a yard out to put Norwich up 24-0 as the third quarter wound down.
Early on in the final quarter Connor Bourque (Goffstown, N.H.) became the third Cadets running back to find the endzone, as he broke off a 69-yard rush into the endzone on the second play of the series to make it 31-0 after the extra point and effectively seal up the victory for the maroon and gold.
The Norwich defensive unit pitched their second shutout of the season, the first against Castleton in week three's 40-0 Maple Sap Bucket game victory, and the program's second since 2012.
Tavares Ward (Sunrise, Fla.), Austen Greene (Herndon, Va.), and Cahan Quinn (Putnam, Conn.) all pulled down interceptions as the unit held Catholic to just 206 yards of total offense and a 2 for 15 showing on third down. Avantaye Salomon (New York, N.Y.) and Christopher Ward (Westfield, Mass.) each put up five tackles and a sack, while Bo Phillips (Chappaqua, N.Y.) broke up a pair of passes in the secondary.
Norwich's offensive backfield stepped up on a tough day weather-wise in Northfield, as Conner, Bourque, and Cuqua combined for 282 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in blizzard-like conditions. Clyde Tamburro did his job, hitting the 41-yard field goal and going a perfect 4-4 on extra point attempts. Owen McKenna (Attleboro, Mass.) put on an excellent performance, punting the ball eight times and pinning the Cardinals inside their own 20-yard line five times.
The win bumps Norwich up to 3-5 on the season and a 2-3 mark within the NEWMAC, while Catholic falls to 0-8 and 0-5.
Norwich will stay home next week for their home finale against MIT on Saturday at 12:00 PM, with the team's Senior Day ceremony preceding the game. After that they'll head down to WPI for the season finale on November 10th.