Football: Norwich Suffers First Loss of the Season to Springfield

Chandler Mosher
Chandler Mosher

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – The Norwich University football team led for 54 minutes, but gave up a touchdown in the last quarter to fall 21-17 to Springfield College in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action on Saturday at Stagg Field. 

The Cadets lost for the first time this season to slip to 4-1, and 1-1 in NEWMAC play. Springfield snapped a two-game skid to improve to 2-3, 1-1 NEWMAC.  

Norwich scored first as junior kicker Clyde Tamburro (Elizabethtown, Pa.) tucked a 38-yard field goal inside the right goal post with 7:04 remaining in the opening quarter.  After the Cadets forced Springfield into a punt on its next drive after just five plays, Springfield's punter got a hold of a 50-yard boot that pinned Norwich inside its five-yard line.  Springfield's special teams would then come up in a big way, as the Pride blocked senior punter Matt Rogers' (Mansfield, Mass.) punt.  Damien Rabis recovered the loose ball and found the endzone to give Springfield a 7-3 lead with 56 seconds left in the quarter.  

Norwich would answer back just 25 seconds later as junior quarterback Matt Dunn (Rockford, Mass.) hit junior wideout Manni Romero (Phillipsburg, N.J.) for a 76-yard score, his third touchdown of more than 75 yards on the season. The Cadets expanded their lead to 17-7 on another big play just 1:42 into the second quarter when Dunn found Trevor Chase (Eliot, Maine) in the middle of field that resulted in a 67-yard score following another Springfield defensive miscue. 

Springfield appeared poised to cut into the lead on its next drive, going 58 yards in 16 plays and chewing 7:42 off the clock as they converted on a pair of fourth-down conversions before the Cadets stuffed the Pride on 4th and 1 on their own 29-yard line to get the ball back with 5:31 in the half.  The Cadets would take a 17-7 lead into the half.   

The teams would trade possessions to start the fourth before Norwich had a 42-yard field goal attempt sail wide left, giving Springfield the ball with 8:56 to go in the third.  Springfield would then put together a long drive, going 75 yards in 17 plays and taking 8:37 off the clock. The fullback duo of Pat Ladas and Tim Callahan combined for 10 carries on the drive before Chad Shade plunged in from a yard out to pull Springfield within 17-14 with 19 seconds remaining in the third quarter. 

The Cadets went three-and-out on their next possession, and Springfield took over on their own 30-yard line.  Shade once again orchestrated a long drive, as Springfield marched 64 yards in 18 plays over the next 8:22 to take the lead for good.  Callahan and Shade would account for 14 carries and Callahan leaped over the line on fourth and goal from the one with 6:55 to play for the game-winning score. 

With a chance to put together a game-winning drive, Norwich came up empty with a three-and-out series. The Cadets would not get another opportunity as Springfield ran out the clock converting on a crucial 4th-and-1 during the final drive. 

The story of the game was Springfield's ability to control the ball late in the game with its long drives keeping Norwich's defense on the field and more importantly their offense on the sidelines. Because of the quick strike ability of Norwich's offense, the hosts ran 85 offensive plays, more than twice that of the Cadets, with the majority of those coming on the ground. 

Dunn threw for 289 yards and two first-half scores for Norwich, with Romero and Chase combining for 252 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Five players for Norwich had at least 10 tackles, with senior defensive lineman Marshall Watters (Oakland, N.J.) leading the defensive effort with 13 stops. The Cadets held Springfield to 6-for-20 on third down, but were not as successful when it came to fourth down. Norwich allowed Springfield to convert 6-of-7 fourth down attempts in the win.

Shade racked up 169 yards and a score on 31 carries, while Callahan carried for 140 yards and a score on 27 attempts. Springfield finished the day with 404 rushing yards and averaged 4.9 yards per carry.  Defensively, AJ Smith made a team-best five stops. 

Next Saturday, Norwich will return home for Family and Friends Weekend to take on Merchant Marine in a NEWMAC tilt scheduled for 1 p.m.