NORTHFIELD, Vt. – The Norwich University football team clinched its third Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) title after knocking off Husson University 20-17 at Sabine Field on Saturday afternoon. A Castleton loss to Becker earlier today, sealed the Cadets its third league title since 2011 and 2009.
The Cadets have won six straight conference games and are now 6-3 on the year, while the Eagles fall to 5-1 in the ECFC and 6-2 on the year.
Sophomore quarterback Philippe Bazinet (Otterburn Park, Quebec) went 7-for-16 for 182 passing yards for the Cadets with wide receiver Pierre Noel (Manchester, N.H.) collected 74 receiving yards on four receptions. Running back Quincy Williams (Brossard, Quebec) rushed for a team-high 65 yards as Sam Chaves(Alfred, Maine) and Nicholas Benoit (Saugus, Mass.) each scored a touchdown. Junior kicker Wesley Medeiros (Gilford, N.H.) would add eight points on a pair of field goals and points after attempts.
Sophomore defensive back Austin Roberts (East Bridgewater, Mass.) collected a team-high nine tackles and an interception, while junior Donovan Murby (Manchester, N.H.) and seniorEric Wabrek (Bridgewater, Mass.) each recorded six tackles for the Cadets.
The Cadets would allow Husson 386 offensive yards but Norwich's defensive unit came up with four strong fourth down stops to keep the Eagles off the board and held running back John Smith (Fayetteville, Ga.), who led the league in rushing yards, to just 173 yards. Husson's quarterback Joe Seccareccia (Bangor, Maine) threw for 169 yards (13-28) and an interception. Backup quarterback Cory Brandon (Pembroke, Mass.) would put up 31 passing yards and a touchdown for the Eagles, while wide receivers Greg Moore (Worcester, Mass.) caught for 74 yards on three receptions with Jon Saban (Augusta, Maine) collecting 42 receiving yards on four receptions in the loss.
Despite two strong fourth down stops against the Eagles, the Cadets struggled to move the ball down the field and after an Eagle 39 yard punt to the Cadets' one-yard line, Norwich looked to move the ball once again but was forced into its own end zone as Husson collected the safety for the first score of the game.
Prior to the end of the first quarter, Husson came up short and turned the ball over on downs, giving Norwich the ball on its own 17-yard line to start the drive. Struggling to move the chains once again and facing a 3-and-13 situation on the Norwich's 14 yard line, Bazinet connected a 25-yard pass to Noel to start a new set of downs. On the same drive and into the start of the second quarter, Bazinet would rush for 24 yards to the Husson's one yard line before Benoit punched through the goal line for the Cadets' first score of the game, followed by Medieros extra point.
Husson looked to battle its way back in the game, but the Cadets' defense kept the Eagles at bay. Midway through the second quarter, the turnover on down troubles continued for the Eagles on when a botched punt attempt resulted in their own fumble, resulting in a turnover, giving Norwich good field position at the Husson's 35 yard line. The Cadets looked to get through the red zone but would come up short after several rushing attempts, forcing Medeiros to successfully attempt a 40 yard field goal that had no trouble going through the uprights as Norwich extended its lead, 10-2 with 7:13 remaining in the first half.
Less than four minutes later, the game quickly changed when Smith broke through the line of scrimmage for a 40 yard rushing touchdown before Husson's two-point attempt was successful after Seccareccia found tight end DJ Allen in the end zone to knot the score at 10 points at the 3:20 mark.
The Cadets responded less than three minutes later a pass interference against Husson gave the Cadets good field advantage inside the Eagle's red zone of the 27 yard line before a pair of Williams' rushes produced a new set of downs before Chaves punched through the defensive line for the score with the Cadets leading 17-10 at the half.
Neither team would score in the third quarter and midway through the fourth quarter after a back and forth affair. The Cadets would strike once again on a Medeiros' 32-yard field goal to make it a 10 point game with 8:29 remaining in the contest. Husson rallied quickly four minutes later as Brandon connected with Allen on a 6-yard pass for the touchdown as the Eagles trailed by just three points.
After the score, Husson attempted a squib on the kickoff, in hopes of recovering the ball off the kick, but the ball would travel out of bounds as the Cadets started its final drive at the Husson 39 yard line.
Norwich worked its way down the field, winding time off the clock before a holding penalty against the Cadets backed them up for a 4th-and-15 situation in which resulted in a turnover on downs, giving Husson one last chance with just nine seconds remaining in the game.
The Eagles attempted its final drive in an attempted lateral plays before the Cadets' defense stopped any chance for a wild finish.
Norwich recognized 13 seniors prior to the game as the class of 2016. In four years, the class of 2016 has compiled an overall record of 25-14. The Cadets would post a 20-5 conference record and three ECAC Bowl Game appearances as well and now they can add an ECFC Championship Title and an NCAA Tournament bid to their career.
The Cadets will wrap up the regular season again in-state foe Castleton University next week as both teams vie for the coveted Maple Sap Bucket trophy. Kickoff is set for 1:00 p.m.