NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University football team set an all-time program record with 430 passing yards en route to a 51-10 victory over New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) foe Maine Maritime Academy on Saturday afternoon on Sabine Field at Haynes Family Stadium.
With the win, the Cadets improved their overall record to 5-2 and evened their mark in GNAC play at 2-2. Maine Maritime remained winless on the season through eight overall and five NEWMAC games after today's defeat. Norwich extended its unbeaten streak against Maine Maritime to 12-0.
The Norwich offense was firing on all cylinders, boasting a well-balanced attack that featured 602 total yards. Junior quarterback Matt Dunn (Rockland, Mass.) and freshman wideout Trevor Chase (Eliot, Maine) highlighted the passing attack which bested the previous standard for the most passing yards in a game. Junior Manni Romero (Phillipsburg, N.J.) notched his sixth 100+ yard receiving performance of the season and added his 15th touchdown of his career which tied him for third place all-time. Today's passing total surpassed the 407 passing yards recorded against Coast Guard last year.
Dunn completed 20-of-25 passes for 395 yards before giving way to sophomore Grant Willard (Jupiter, Fla.) who went a perfect 5-of-5 for 35 yards. Chase hauled in seven receptions for 170 yards which included long touchdown grabs of 56 and 64 yards. The stable of running backs also churned up plenty of yardage as the group collectively ran for 191 yards. Senior Steve Cuqua (Walpole, Mass.) carried the ball 15 times for 82 yards and a pair of touchdowns while senior Aaron Conner (Dayton Beach, Fla.) rushed for 57 yards on 12 attempts and a touchdown.
The Cadets set the tone in the first quarter piling up 221 yards of total offense while the defense held the Mariners to just 15 total yards. The fact the defense held the visitors without a first down in the opening period allowed the offense time to get in a rhythm and build up a 16-0 lead.
Norwich's special teams and defense put the Cadets in excellent field position in their second series by pinning the Mariners on their one-yard line. Cadet senior defenders Chris Ryan (New Milford, Conn.) and Ferron Green (Suitland, Md.) met the Mariners' running back before he could exit the end zone, resulting in a safety. Ironically, it was a repeat performance from last year's matchup which saw the Cadets open the contest with a safety.
Maine Maritime got on the scoreboard with its last drive of the first quarter which carried over to the second stanza. The 12-play, 58-yard drive resulted in a Maxwell Horton 24-yard field.
Norwich then proceeded to score on four consecutive possessions to open up a commanding 44-3 lead. Dunn hit senior running back Connor Bourque (Goffstown, N.H.), Romero and Chase with passing touchdowns, while Cuqua scampered up the gut for a 20-yard touchdown run, his first of the season.
Each team would score just once in the second half. Cuqua notched his second rushing touchdown of the game on a three-yard plunge for the Cadets before Reed Hopkins answered for the Mariners on a one-yard rushing score of his own.
The Cadets' 51 points are the most in a game since October 20, 2010, when the team defeated Husson University 56-0.
The Norwich defense did an excellent job of minimizing the impact of the NEWMAC's touchdown reception leader Dominic Casale who had scored in every contest coming into today's matchup. Casale caught six passes for 41 yards and was held scoreless. The NEWAC's second-ranked passing attack managed just 158 passing yards, roughly 60 yards below their average. Nikolas Moquin completed 17-of-38 yards while being intercepted once. Reed Hopkins led the receiving corps with five catches for 79 yards. Cooper Chiasson recorded 23 yards rushing on six attempts.
Norwich sophomore lineman Avantaye Salomon (New York, N.Y.) had his finest defensive showing as a Cadet registering four tackles which included three for loss and a pair of sacks. Senior linebacker Cahan Quinn (Putnam, Conn.) and freshman defensive back Adrian Floyd (St. Petersburg, Fla.) also recorded four tackles and a fumble recovery each.
Joel Bennet and Spencer Baron led the Mariners on defense with nine tackles each. Bennet had seven solo tackles while Baron notched three solos. Terrell Thomas provided the visitors with eight tackles including a sack.
Norwich will be aiming for its sixth win of the season next Saturday when it travels to NEWMAC rival Catholic for a noon-time kickoff.