Saturday's Game: Maine Maritime Academy (0-6, 0-4 NEWMAC) at Norwich University (1-5, 0-3 NEWMAC), 12:00 pm, Ritchie Field, Castine, Maine.
Series History: Norwich holds a 10-0 record all-time against the Mariners, with last season's meeting being the first between the two teams since 1968.
Last Meeting: Norwich University outscored Maine Maritime Academy football 10-7 in the second half to edge the Mariners 24-22 last season in NEWMAC play on October 21.
The Mariners were forced to punt on their opening possession and the Cadets answered with a 7-play 69-yard scoring drive to take a 7-0 lead. The scoring drive was capped off with one-yard touchdown rush by Steve Cuqua and a good extra point from Clyde Tamburro.
Norwich held the Mariners on their next possession and the Cadets doubled their lead to 14-0 on a 33-yard touchdown carry by Matthew Chaffee.
On Maine Maritime's next possession Corey Creeger connected with Dominic Casale for a 35-yard completion and again for an 11-yard grab to set up a three-yard touchdown catch by Casale and a good extra point by Creeger, cutting Norwich's lead to 14-7.
Maine Maritime's defense forced a fumble that was recovered by Andrew Plata midway through the second quarter. The turnover set up an 11-play 65-yard scoring drive by the Mariners, capped off by a three-yard touchdown run and a two-point conversion by Jacob Doolan to give the Mariners a 15-14 lead entering halftime.
Norwich scored 10 points in the third quarter to take a 24-14 lead and despite a late-game touchdown carry by Joel Bennett, the Cadets held on for the victory.
Creeger ended the afternoon with 75 passing yards on six completions and 60 rushing yards on 22 carries. James Ferrar led Maine Maritime with 90 yards on 14 carries and Casale pulled down five catches for 69 yards.
Alec Clark led the Maine Maritime defense with 13 tackles, while John Bennett added 12 tackles, including seven solo stops and a sack for a loss of five yards.
Cuqua led the Norwich offense with 137 rushing yards on 21 carries, while Cahan Quinn led the Cadets defensively with 17 tackles, including eight solo stops, and a forced fumble.
Maine Maritime Academy's Last Game: Maine Maritime Academy football fell to Coast Guard Academy 15-0 last Saturday afternoon at Cadet Memorial Field.
The Bears got on the board late in the first half on a safety and took a 2-0 lead into halftime. Coast Guard added two touchdowns in the second half to claim the 15-0 win.
Quarterback Zackery Brannon led Maine Maritime's offense with 92 rushing yards and 23 passing yards, while Derek Breunig led the team defensively with 14 tackles, including 10 solo stops, one tackle for a loss, and three broken up passes.
Chris Gardner led the Coast Guard offense with 78 yards on 22 carries and a touchdown, while teammate Justin Moffatt accounted for the other score and totaled 44 yards on two carries. Mark Wicke and Jake Behne led the Bears' defense with six tackles each and Michael Goldsworthy had three interceptions for 32 yards.
Norwich University's Last Game: The Norwich University football team saw another fourth-quarter lead evaporate late, as the hosting USMMA Mariners scored 20 points in the final quarter to take a 33-24 victory on October 6.
Norwich took their first drive down to the Merchant Marine seven-yard line, but the Cadets fumbled at the goal line and saw the Mariners pick it up for a touchback. Merchant Marine's ensuing drive stalled out after seven plays, and the Cadets started their second drive of the afternoon at their own 45-yard line. Six plays later, Aaron Conner went 21-yards on the ground to score the game's first points, and the extra point from Clyde Tamburro made it 7-0 Cadets.
The Mariners responded with an 11 play, 70-yard drive capped by a two-yard rushing touchdown to even things up at 7-7.
Both teams struggled to get drives going on the next few possessions before Matt Dunn and Manni Romero broke off a 61-yard catch and run for a Norwich touchdown to make it 14-7 in the second quarter. Merchant Marine responded with a 27-yard field goal on their next drive to make it 14-10, and Norwich came down the field on their next drive to set up a 28-yard field goal from Tamburro to make it a seven-point lead once again before heading into halftime.
The only scoring in the third quarter came for Merchant Marine via a Gavin Gartner 42-yard field goal to make it 17-13, as the game entered the final quarter.
Norwich started their drive with exactly 15 minutes showing on the clock, as Matt Dunn took the first snap, dropped back, and found Manni Romero once again streaking down the field. This one went for 73-yards and another Norwich touchdown, making it 24-13.
The Norwich defense forced a three-and-out on the next MMA drive, but the Norwich return unit fumbled the ball on the punt from MMA and the Mariners regained possession on the Norwich 39-yard line. The defensive unit for the Cadets managed to hold Merchant Marine to just a field goal, as the Mariners cut the Norwich lead to 24-16.
After the Cadets went three-and-out on their next drive, Merchant Marine put together a 10 play, 65-yard drive that ended in a nine-yard touchdown pass from Krystian Abbott on fourth down to make it 24-22. The Mariners went for the two-point conversion and ran it in to tie things up at 24-24 with about six minutes remaining in the half.
Another offensive three-and-out for Norwich forced the Cadets to punt the ball away, as MMA started their drive with under five minutes to go. The Mariners needed just 23 seconds, however, as Abbott found Luke Jamison for a 61-yard touchdown on the second play of the series to give MMA the 31-24 lead late.
Norwich was forced to punt again on the next drive, but the defensive unit stepped up and forced a Merchant Marine punt with about a minute remaining.
Punter Jak Ruark did his job exceptionally, pinning the Cadets on their own four-yard line. After a handful of incomplete pass attempts, Norwich was called for intentional grounding in the end zone on a fourth and ten play, resulting in a safety being called and Merchant Marine getting two points and the possession. Merchant Marine took the kickoff and kneeled once to run out the clock and make the 33-24 score final.
Manni Romero was the story of the day for Norwich. The sophomore caught ten passes for 272 yards and two touchdowns, breaking the Norwich single-game receiving yards record set in 1984 by Darian Almondobar. Seeing action in just three contests so far this fall Romero has totaled 21 receptions for 432 yards and seven touchdowns, putting him in striking distance of Pierre Garcon's single-season touchdown record of 13 set in 2004.
Matt Dunn also played well for the Cadets, tossing the two touchdowns to Romero while going 23-52 for 407 yards, as he eclipsed the 300 and 400-yard threshold for the first time in his young career. Connor Bourque and Aaron Conner combined for 76 yards out of the backfield, while Taj-Calvin Johnson had a solid six reception game out wide.
The defensive unit was led by Tavares Ward and his 12 solo tackles, including two for a loss, along with Isaiah Williams, Martin Bailey Bedford, and Michael Corinna who all notched double-digit tackle totals. Brasean Stewart had eight tackles and two pass breakups out wide from his defensive back position, as Norwich yielded just 126 yards through the air.
The Mariners: Quarterback Bailey Sawyer leads the Mariners with 742 passing yards on 52 completions and five touchdowns. Dominic Casale leads the Mariners' receivers with 372 yards on 27 catches and four touchdowns. Cooper Chiasson leads the Mariners running backs with 183 yards on 73 carries.
Defensively, Derek Breunig leads the Mariners with 58 tackles, including 31 solo stops and eight tackles for a loss of 23 yards. The senior outside linebacker also has a sack for 10 yards and four broken up passes.
As a team the Mariners average 186.7 yards per game, including 146.5 passing yards per game.
The Cadets: Quarterback Matt Dunn leads Norwich with 1,171 yards on 78 completions and nine touchdowns. Aaron Conner leads the running backs with 487 yards on 108 carries and four touchdowns. Taj-Calvin Johnson leads the receivers with 23 catches, but Levontae Decius leads the Cadets with 441 receiving yards on 21 catches and Manni Romero averages 108 yards per game, with a total of 432 yards on 21 catches and seven touchdowns.
Defensively, Brasean Stewart leads Norwich with 47 tackles, including 36 solo stops and three tackles for a loss of six yards. Stewart also has one fumble recovery, one interception for nine yards and three broken up passes. Michael Corinna leads the Cadets with three interceptions for 81 yards and seven broken up passes.
As a team the Cadets average 328.0 yards of total offense per game, including 220.8 passing yards. They are allowing opponents to accumulate 439.5 yards of offense and score 29.7 points per game.