NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Freshman RB Orwin Etkins rushed for 269 yards and five touchdowns as the Norwich University football team defeated Mount Ida College, 49-14, to win the inaugural Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) Championship Game Saturday afternoon at a wet and muddy Sabine Field.
It marks the first-ever conference title for the Cadets (8-3), who have been playing football since 1893. Etkins, who was named the game’s “Most Valuable Player”, got Norwich on the scoreboard late in the first quarter when he ran for a 20-yard touchdown. Junior K Ryan Kelly connected on the extra point to give the Cadets a 7-0 lead.
Mount Ida (4-7) responded on its ensuing posssession, as sophomore RB Johrone Bunch rushed for a seven-yard TD. Matt Beale mised the extra point, and the Cadets clung to a 7-6 lead at the 14:27 mark of the second quarter.
Norwich took back the momentum on the ensuing kickoff as freshman WR Brandon Rudd returned Beale’s kick 63 yards to set up the Cadets on the Mustangs’ 14-yard line. Three plays later, on a fourth-and-18 play, freshman QB Kris Sabourin found freshman WR Chris Denton wide open to make it 14-6 at the 12:40 mark.
Mount Ida muffed the ensuing Norwich kickoff and senior RB Kyle Marzeoti pounced on the loose football at the Mustangs’ 35-yard line. Two plays later, Etkins ran untouched up the middle for a 27-yard touchdown to give NU a 21-6 lead.
The Cadets’ defense forced a three-and-out on Mount Ida’s next offensive possession, and Norwich got the ball back at its own 21-yard line. Two plays later, Etkins rushed 63 yards down the left sideline to give Norwich a first-and-goal at the Mustang three-yard line. The first-year back stuck it in the end zone on the very next play, going over for a three-yard TD. The touchdown, which came at the 7:59 mark, extended the Cadets’ lead to 28-6.
Mount Ida fought back late in the second quarter as the Mustangs engineered a six-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to pull within 28-14 with 17 seconds to play before halftime. Scott Drosendahl hit Nick Lynch with a 28-yard touchdown pass to cap the drive. Then, after a Norwich timeout, Bunch took a pitch and threw a two-point conversion pass to Kyle Watkins.
Norwich nearly scored again before the intermission after sophomore WR Tom Kane returned the ensuing kickoff 55 yards to the Mount Ida three-yard line. Etkins was stopped at the one-yard line, though, and the half expired.
Norwich took the second half kickoff, but went three-and-out and had to punt it away. Mount Ida then drove the ball to the NU 42-yard line before senior DB Donovan Brown intercepted a Drosendahl pass on a third-and-16 play.
Mount Ida got the ball back three plays later when Sabourin tossed an interception of his own. The Mustangs then drove the ball to the Norwich 22-yard line, and they appeared poised to make it a one touchdown game. But Norwich junior LB Rocco DiMeco made one of the biggest plays of the game on a fourth-and-two, when he tackled bunch for a four-yard loss.
The Cadets took that momentum and marched 74 yards on five plays. Freshman RB Danny Triplett ripped off a 41-yard line to move the ball to the Mount Ida 14-yard line, and Etkins ran it in from 14 yards out on the very next play to make it 35-14 with 4:34 to play in the third quarter.
Norwich held Mount Ida at the Cadets 28-yard line on the Mustangs’ next offensive possession, and they marched 72 yards in eight plays to take a 42-14 lead at the 12:17 mark of the fourth quarter. Etkins cashed in the drive with a 39-yard TD run.
Mount Ida attempted a fake punt after a three-and-out on its next offensive possession, and Norwich took over at the Mustangs’ 30-yard line after tackling Bunch for a loss of 11 yards.
Five plays later, the Cadets were back in the end zone as senior WR Kevin Ober ran it in from two yards out. The touchdown, which capped the scoring, gave Norwich a 49-14 lead with 8:43 to play in the fourth.
The Norwich defense, which limited Mount Ida to just 258 yards of total offense, was led by DiMeco (nine tackles, 1.5 tackles-for-loss) and senior LB Mike Ohrenberger (eight tackles).
Bunch finished with 107 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries, while Drosendahl completed 11-of-23 passes for 159 yards and the one TD.
Norwich finished with 403 yards rushing and 490 yards of total offense. The Cadets possessed the ball for more than 32 minutes in the contest.