Football: Norwich comeback falls short, WPI prevails 20-17

Football: Norwich comeback falls short, WPI prevails 20-17

WORCESTER, Mass. - The Norwich University football team fell in New England Women's and Men's Conference (NEWMAC) action on Saturday afternoon, falling to the Engineers of Worcester Polytechnic Institute by a 20-17 final score. 

The Cadets got on the board first with a 41-yard field goal off the foot of Clyde Tamburro (Elizabethtown, Pa.) after Bo Phillips (Chappaqua, N.Y.) picked off WPI to set the offense up in excellent field position. WPI wasted no time responding, as Julian Nyland took the third play of the ensuing drive 52-yards on the ground to the endzone to make it 7-3 WPI. 

A pair of field goals extended the Engineers' lead to 13-3 midway through the second quarter. Needing a score, the Norwich offense answered the call with Matt Dunn (Rockland, Mass.) hitting Lavontae Decius (North Lauderdale, Fla.) for an 83-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 13-10. 

The next Cadets offensive drive was the complete opposite, as WPI picked the ball off and took it 57-yards back for a touchdown to make it 20-10, the score that would hold heading into the second half.

As it turns out, the 20-10 score would hold for the majority of the remaining game time. Neither team put any points up throughout the third quarter and for most of the fourth quarter, trading punts and turnovers throughout the second half. 

Finally, Norwich broke through with an 11 play, 70-yard drive capped by a 17-yard throw from Dunn that found Taj-Calvin Johnson (Avenel, N.J.) to make it 20-17 WPI with barely two minutes remaining in the game. 

The Norwich defense stepped up once again, as they did all day, forcing a three and out on the Engineers' next drive. Unfortunately, the first pass attempt for Norwich on the next drive was picked off by WPI, allowing the Engineers' offense to kneel out the clock and seal up the 20-17 victory. 

Norwich's defense led the way today, holding WPI to just 215 yards of total offense and forcing four turnovers. Cahan Quinn (Putnam, Conn.)Tavares Ward (Sunrise, Fla.), and Bo Phillips all pulled down interceptions, while Chris Ryan (New Milford, Conn.) forced a fumble that Michael Corinna (Milford, Mass.) recovered. Ward led the defense with 10 tackles on the day and Isaiah Williams (Apopka, Fla.) tallied two tackles for a loss.

The receiving corps for Norwich had a fine day, with Lavontae Decius leading the way with four receptions for 148 yards and a touchdown. Manni Romero (Phillipsburg, N.J.) caught nine for 76 yards, and Taj-Calvin Johnson had twelve for 109 yards and a score. Quarterback Matt Dunn went 29-53 for 354 yards, throwing two touchdowns and four interceptions. 

The loss brings a close to Norwich's 2018 season, as the Cadets finish with a 3-7 record and a 2-5 mark within the NEWMAC.