Saturday's Game: Maine Maritime Academy (0-7, 0-4 NEWMAC) at Norwich University (4-2, 1-2 NEWMAC), 12:00 pm, Sabine Field at Haynes Family Stadium, Northfield, Vermont.
Series History: Norwich holds an 11-0 record all-time against the Mariners. Last year, the Cadets beat the Mariners 15-7 in Castine.
Last Meeting: Maine Maritime Academy football fell to Norwich University, 15-7, last season on October 20, 2018 in NEWMAC action at Ritchie Field.
Maine Maritime's defense forced a fumble early in the first quarter, but the Cadets held the Mariner offense to a three-and-out. TJ Morrill picked off Norwich's quarterback on the next Cadet possession, but the Mariners were forced to punt once again.
Andrew Plata intercepted the Cadets on their next possession but Norwich held the Mariners to their half of the field and capitalized on a team safety on the Mariners next possession to take a 2-0 lead at 11:34.
The Mariners orchestrated a goal-line stand to keep the game at 2-0, but Bailey Sawyer's pass was intercepted on the Mariners opening play of the next possession, setting up a field goal for the Cadets. Norwich added another field goal in the second quarter to take an 8-0 lead into halftime.
The teams were scoreless in the third quarter, but the Cadets scored on their first possession of the fourth quarter to take a 15-0 lead. The Mariners got on the board with 9:51 remaining in the game when Sawyer connected with Dominic Casale (Freeport, Maine) for a 33-yard touchdown reception and Maxwell Horton's (Eliot, Maine) extra point attempt was good. Norwich's early lead held, and the Cadets claimed the 15-7 victory.
Sawyer collected 144 passing yards on 15 completions and a touchdown while Casale tallied 60 receiving yards on five catches and a touchdown.
Defensively, Terrell Thomas (Auburn, Maine) led the Mariners with 15 tackles, including 10 solo stops, a tackle for a loss and a broken up pass. Trenton Bouchard (Winslow, Maine) had nine tackles (six solo).
Norwich's quarterback Matt Dunn had 261 yards on 23 completions and a touchdown, while Connor Bourque led the Cadet running backs with 162 yards on 30 carries and Lavontae Decius led the receivers with 85 yards on six catches.
Defensively, Owen McKenna led the Cadets with 10 tackles, including five solo stops.
Maine Maritime Academy's Last Game: Maine Maritime Academy football fell to Coast Guard Academy, 33-8 last Saturday afternoon in NEWMAC action at Ritchie Field.
The Mariners combined for 283 yards of total offense, and were led by junior wide receiver Dominic Casale (Freeport, Maine) who tallied 10 catches for 143 yards and touchdown.
Freshman quarterback Andrew Haining (Palmyra, Maine) recorded 13 completions for 156 yards and the touchdown toss, while junior quarterback Nikolas Moquin (Goffstown, N.H.) had 13 completions for 118 yards.
Defensively Terrell Thomas (Auburn, Maine) and Cole Eddins (Fort Smith, Ark.) led the Mariners with 10 tackles each, Thomas added three quarterback hurries while Eddins also recorded a tackle for a loss.
Coast Guard's quarterback Ryan Jones had 353 yards on 26 completions and three touchdowns, wide receiver Justin Moffatt accounted for 256 of those yards with 13 catches and two touchdowns and running back Chris Gardner totaled 61 yards on 12 carries.
Eugene Bizer led the Bears defensively with 11 tackles, including six solo stops and a tackle for a loss of three yards.
After stalling on the first drive of the game, Maine Maritime held the Bears to just a field-goal on their first possession, but the Bears responded by forcing a Mariner three-and-out and added seven points to the board following a 56-yard touchdown toss from Jones to Moffatt and a good extra-point from Patrick Crowley.
Spencer Baron (Mariaville, Maine) kept the Bears' lead at 10-0 when he picked off Jones in the end zone to start the second half, but Coast Guard added nine unanswered-points to take a 19-0 lead into halftime.
The two teams exchanged unsuccessful drives to open the second half, until Coast Guard returned an interception 53-yards, setting up a seven-play, 47-yard drive that was capped off by an 11-yard touchdown catch by Cody Fidler from Jones.
Haining guided the Mariners 99-yards on 13 plays, connecting with Casale for a 30-yard touchdown pass to start the fourth quarter and found Casale once again for the two-point conversion to close the gap to 26-8.
Jones found Moffatt for a 58-yard touchdown pass just four plays later to secure the victory for Coast Guard.
Norwich University's Last Game: The Norwich University football team was unable to build off its first two scoring drives, falling to Merchant Marine 30-20 in New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) action last Saturday afternoon at Sabine Field at Haynes Family Stadium.
The game appeared as it was going to be a very favorable one for Norwich's offense in the very early going as the Cadets quickly put two touchdowns on the board in the opening two and a half minutes. Junior quarterback Matt Dunn found classmate Manni Romero for touchdown passes of 73 yard and 30 yards to give Norwich a 14-0 lead.
The Cadets' defense also stood its ground early against a rush attack that has put up almost 400 yards per game and is ranked the number one rushing offense in the nation. The collective defensive effort limited Merchant Marine to just six plays for minus eight yards in the first two drives and recovered a fumble.
A combination of Norwich turnovers and Merchant Marine's running game finding its footing shifted the tides shortly thereafter.
The Mariners followed the second Norwich touchdown with an 18-play, 60-yard drive that was capped off by a Gavin Gartner 40-yard field goal which trimmed the lead to 14-3.
The big-play, quick-hitting offense which was idle during that long drive could not regain its rhythm again until much later in the game as Dunn and his receivers could not get in synch. Dunn would complete just 19-of-39 passes on the day.
Merchant Marine returned to the well using what has given them so much success so far this year; pounding the ball on the ground. Even though Norwich did an excellent job holding the visitors well-below their average rushing yards per game and held them to just a 33 percent conversion rate on third downs, the Mariners option offense was too much of a challenge to stop on fourth down, short yardage plays. The visitors converted on 4-of-5 of their fourth down opportunities to continue drives and keep the Norwich offense off the field.
After the Cadets' initial 14-0 lead, the Mariners responded with 30 unanswered points spanning between the first and third quarters, building a 20-14 lead at halftime and a 30-14 lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Gartner hit a 31-yard field goal as time expired in the opening quarter to cut Norwich's lead to 14-6. After a deep punt pinned Norwich on its own one-yard line, the Mariners' defense produced a defensive touchdown recovering Norwich's fumbled snap in the end zone and trimming the lead to 14-12. The defense came up with another key turnover as Tanner Carter picked off a Dunn pass. This set up a 12-play, 50-yard drive which was capped by a goal line plunge by Matt Strong to put USMMA in the lead 20-14 after the two-point rushing conversion by Alec Kiernan was successful.
USMMA continued to chew up yardage on the ground with a 13-play, 54-yard drive on its second possession following halftime which led to Gartner's 20-yard field goal giving them a 23-14 lead. After picking off another Cadet pass on the first play of the next drive, the Mariners once again used a long, run-heavy drive spanning 4:44 to punch in its final score of the day. Kiernan scored on a one-yard goal line rush on 3rd and goal to put the visitors up 30-14.
Norwich could not find any offensive rhythm of its own in the second half until 3:39 remaining in the game. A crucial 15-yard pass to senior receiver Ryan Reed on 4th and 11 seemed to ignite the drive. Dunn found Romero and Chase for gains of over 20 yards which led to Dunn scoring on a three-yard, QB keeper making it 30-20. However, the two-point conversion failed and the Cadets were unsuccessful in their onside kick attempt which left the Mariners free to run out the clock.
Dunn (305 yards) passed for over 300 yards for the fourth time this season for the Cadets. Romero had his best receiving game of the season hauling in seven catches for 189 yards and his sixth and seventh TD receptions.
With the defense seeing extended time on the field against the Mariners' rushing attack, the team was forced to make a lot of tackles (124). Sophomore defensive back Zev Motew produced well in his first extended look this season registering a career-high 16 tackles. Jonathan Moltimer. Austen Greene and Cahan Quinn each added career-highs with 14 tackles while four of Cahan's tackles were for a loss.
Krystian Abbot was extremely efficient for USMMA as he notched 115 yards on 7-of-8 passes. James Early and Kiernan paved the way on the ground for the Mariners combining for 139 yard on 34 carries. Joe Vitelli led the receiving corps with five catches for 93 yards. Eric Davidson led the team in tackling with seven total while also picking up an interception.
The Mariners: Maine Maritime averages 267 yards, including 229.4 passing yards, per game, while averaging 14.4 points per game.
The Mariners are 32 percent (33-104) on third down conversions and 50 percent (8-16) on fourth down conversions.
Nikolas Moquin leads the Mariners offense with 158.3 passing yards per game, totaling 1,110 yards on 92 completions and 10 touchdowns. Dominic Casale leads the receivers with 86.1 receiving yards per game, totaling 603 receiving yards on 44 receptions and nine touchdowns.
Terrell Thomas leads the Mariners defensively with 59 tackles, including 39 solo tackles, and 3.5 tackles for a loss of eight yards. Spencer Baron has 49 total tackles, including 27 solo stops, one tackle for a loss of three yards, a fumble recovery, an interception and a pair of broken up passes.
The Cadets: Norwich University averages 355.5 yards, including 307.3 passing yards . while averaging 23.5 points per game.
The Cadets are 35 percent (33-93) on third down conversions and 42 percent (5-12) on fourth down conversions.
Matt Dunn leads Norwich with 307.3 passing yards per game, totaling 1,844 yards on 130 completions and 13 touchdowns. Trevor Chase leads the receivers with 39 catches for 435 yards and five touchdowns, but teammate Manni Romero leads the team with 824 yards on 34 catches and seven touchdowns.
Andrew Connor leads the running backs with 292 yards on 80 carries and two touchdowns.
Austen Greene leads the Cadets defensively, with 53 tackles, including 27 solo stops, an interception and three broken up passes. Cahan Quinn has 41 tackles, including 15 solo stops, six tackles for a loss of 20 yards and an interception.
Favorite Target: Dominic Casale pulled down his single-season record, ninth receiving touchdown of the year last week, moving him past John Guss who has held the record since 1991.
Passing Milestones: Nikolas Moquin surpassed 1,000 yards passing this season, becoming just the seventh Maine Maritime quarterback to pass that mark in a single-season, and has the most passing yards by a MMA quarterback since Chris Pelletier threw for 1,160 yards in 2000.
Catching Up: Dominic Casale currently has 603 receiving yards, the most by a MMA wide receiver since John Guss had 819 in 1991.