NOTE: A live videostreamed broadcast will be available free of charge via Northeast Sports Network (www.nsnsports.net).
Norwich University and Mount Ida College will meet for the inaugural ECFC Championship game in Northfield, Vermont on Saturday, November 14 at 12:30 pm. Norwich enters the contest undefeated in league play at 6-0. Mount Ida earned a title berth after finishing the regular season tied for second place with Gallaudet at 4-2 whom they defeated 23-6 earlier in the year.
HOW THEY GOT HERE
Norwich: After a sluggish 0-3 start, Norwich caught fire against Mount Ida in the fourth week of the season. The Cadets beat the Mustangs 28-6 back on Sept. 26, and have not lost since. The Norwich defense has keyed the team's seven-game win streak, as the Cadets are yielding a mere nine points per game over the stretch. After the victory against Mount Ida, Norwich blasted Becker, 42-2. A pair of tough road games followed, but the Cadets were up to the challenge. NU went down to Washington, D.C., to knock off Gallaudet, 14-7, before travelling up to Bangor, Maine, to take a 20-19 decision from league preseason favorite Husson. The Cadets stopped the Eagles' two-point conversion attempt in the final minute of the game to preserve the victory and take over the driver's seat for the ECFC regular season title. After pushing aside Anna Maria, 48-0, Norwich prepped for the game of the year in the conference: a date with Maritime (NY) for first place in the league standings. The Cadets defense again stood tall, forcing six second half turnovers and defeating the Privateers, 15-3. Norwich capped its undefeated conference season with a 48-27 victory over Castleton.
Mount Ida: Entering the final regular season conference game with a 3-2 conference mark, the Mount Ida College football program captured a 29-28 shootout win on Halloween against visiting ECFC pre-season number one pick Husson University. The Mustangs trailed by two touchdowns with 11:57 remaining in the fourth quarter and stampeded back starting with an 85 yard kickoff return by senior Kyle Watkins to pull within one score from the Eagles (28-21). With 3:52 remaining in the contest, Mount Ida completed a 16 play, 80 yard drive that featured two converted fourth down fake punts, and a three yard touchdown dive by sophomore Johrone Bunch to pull the hosts within one (28-27). Head Coach Michael Landers opted for the two-point conversion handing it off to Bunch who punched in the final two points of the contest for the miraculous 29-28 ECFC victory. The Eagles had a shot for the win in the final ticks of the contest on a 21 yard field goal, but it was missed wide right handing the Mount Ida the win.
Mustang City would have to wait for the outcome of the Gallaudet University versus SUNY Maritime College contest the following Friday to see if they would be competing for the title with hopes that the Bison would knock out the Privateers. Mount Ida's hopes became a reality when Gallaudet knocked off SUNY Maritime 16-13 on the road catapulting Mustang City into the ECFC championship game.
LAST TIME THEY MET
Norwich defeated Mount Ida 28-6 on September 26 behind the rushing tandem of Danny Triplett and Andrew Fulford. Triplet rushed for 116 yards and touchand down while the fullback Fulford added 114 yards and a score. The Cadets stretched out to a 28-0 lead early in the fourth quarter before the Mustangs added a late touchdown. Norwich sophomore linebacker Joseph Gumberwicz had two interceptions, one fumble recovery and 1.5 quarterback sacks.
Mount Ida's Johrone Bunch (pictured) ran for 150 yards on 24 carries to lead the Mustangs while Nick Lynch caught four ballls for 75 yards and a touchdown. Mount Ida quarterbacks were picked off three times and fumbled once.
The Cadets won despite turning the ball over twice and converting just one of 11 third downs.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
Norwich: The Cadet offense has been led all season by its prolific rushing attack, which ranks 10th nationally with 283.5 yards per game. Sophomore RB Andrew Fulford and freshman QB Kris Sabourin lead the way on the ground, while freshman RB Danny Triplett and Orwin Etkins have shown flashes of brilliance this year as well. Defensively, the Cadets are paced by senior DE Reza Afsarmanesh and junior LB Rocco DiMeco.
Mount Ida: Mount Ida senior wide receiver Kyle Watkins has also been a threat offensively all year tallying five receiving touchdowns and two kick return TD's paired with 539 yards through the air. On defense, junior linebacker Jordan Edinger led the Mustangs all season in tackles with 56.5 (49 solo, 15 assist) total along with 3.5 tackles for a loss. Junior safety's Julien Baptiste and Shane Gardner are two key elements to the Mustang backfield in the safety position. Baptiste has recorded 48 total tackles along with a team high four interceptions and three fumble recoveries.