THROGGS HEAD, N.Y. – Buoyed by what Coach Mark Murnyack called a "total team effort," Norwich University completed a perfect Eastern College Football Conference run with a 16-9 win over SUNY-Maritime Nov. 5.
"We always talk about this being about more than just us," Murnyack said. "This win is for the entire Norwich community and family. Our guys went out together and battled hard."
NU (7-3 overall, 7-0 ECFC) got out to a slow start. Two plays after the opening kickoff, a fumble set up the host Privateers (7-2 overall, 5-1 ECFC) deep in Cadets' territory. However, as it would throughout the day, the Maroon and Gold defense stepped up and thwarted Maritime's touchdown bid.
Norwich's offense made up for the early turnover on its next possession. Junior quarterback Kris Sabourin (Georgia, Vt.) hit a seam in the middle of the defense and found daylight for a 55-yard scoring run. Senior place-kicker Long Ding (Qing Dao, China), adding to an already sparkling season, hit two field goals to close the Cadets' first half scoring including a school-record 51-yarder.
The second half saw more strong defense on both sides. Maritime had two other drives stall deep in Cadet territory due to a fumble and an incomplete pass on fourth down. NU's offense also got to midfield twice but was forced to punt twice. The two offenses did manage a field goal apiece for the 15-9 final.
"Our guys stayed with it all day," Murnyack said. "This win goes to our staff, too, for getting our team very well prepared."
Senior running back Andrew Fulford (Gloucester, Mass.) and Sabourin each went over the 100-yard mark. Fulford led the team with 25 carries for 119 yards, while NU's signal caller, registering a rushing touchdown in a sixth consecutive game, ended with 111. Norwich's defense, holding SUNY-Maritime's offense to less than 250 yards, was topped by junior defensive lineman Matt Simonelli (Sciutate, R.I.) with 15 tackles. Senior defensive back Colby LeClerc (Raynham, Mass.) was second in tackles with seven and added an interception.
NOTES: The championship is Norwich's second in the last three years. … The 2011 NCAA Division III playoff field will be announced Sunday, Nov. 13.