Mt. Ida edges Norwich, 22-21

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Norwich sophomore RB Danny
Triplett had a touchdown on
three carries in the tough loss.
Norwich athletics photo

NEWTON, Mass. – Junior running back Johrone Bunch had touchdown runs of 33 and 70 yards to lead the Mt. Ida College football team past Norwich University, 22-21, in both teams' Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) opener on Saturday at Mt. Ida Athletic Stadium. The Mustangs had never beaten the Cadets in the teams' previous 12 meetings dating back to 2000. The loss snaps Norwich's program-record for consecutive wins at 11 and drops it to 3-1 (0-1 ECFC) on the season.

After Norwich received the opening kickoff to start the game the teams traded the ball back-and-forth with three straight drives ending in punts.  

Mt. Ida (2-1, 1-0 ECFC) struck first when Billy Beauzile hit a 48-yard field goal to cap off  a 12-play, 37-yard drive and give it a 3-0 advantage with 2:43 remaining in the first quarter.

Sophomore KR Orwin Etkins returned the ensuing kickoff all the way to the Mustang 40-yard line. Sophomore QB Kris Sabourin then hit sophomore WR Chris Denton with a 36-yard completion to the Mount Ida four yard-line.

NU could not punch the ball in, however, stalling when Sabourin's third-and-goal pass fell incomplete to Denton. Junior K Long Ding then pulled a 37-yard field goal attempt just to the left to maintain the host's 3-0 advantage.

Scott Drosendahl then found Nick Lynch in the end zone for a ten-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter to put the Mustangs up 9-0 after a missed extra point.

The Cadets answered on their next drive, going 80 yards before a one-yard plunge by sophomore RB Danny Triplett got them on the board at 9-7 with a little under eight minutes to go in the first half. Sabourin had a 62-yard run on the drive to set up NU deep in Mt. Ida territory. 

The Mustangs proceeded to come right back with Bunch breaking loose for a 33-yard touchdown to complete an eight-play, 63-yard drive. MIC again could not convert the point after try, so its lead stood at 15-7 with 3:16 left before halftime. 

Norwich then went on a 63-yard drive of their own, this one taking 11 plays, finished off by junior RB Andrew Fulford's three-yard run with 28 seconds left in the half to cut the Mustang advantage to 15-13.  A failed two-point conversion try on a tough call in the back of the end zone kept the score at 15-13 at the break.

Mt. Ida put together a very long drive to open the third quarter, going for 90 yards over 15 plays while taking more than eight minutes off the game clock. The Cadets' defense stiffened along the goalline, however, stopping the Mustangs on four consecutive runs from inside its own eight-yard line.

After a punt by senior P Brian Segit pushed Mt. Ida back to its own thirty, freshman DB Kevin Joseph picked off a Drosendahl pass on the following play to set the Cadets up at the MIC 35-yard line.

Norwich was able to make the turnover count when Fulford rumbled in from 20 yards out for his second score of the afternoon to give the Cadets their first lead of the game. NU was successful on a two-point try when Sabourin ran the ball in on a naked bootleg to the left side for the 21-15 lead.

Bunch came up huge again for the Mustangs, this time getting free for a 70-yard touchdown run to knot the game at 21-21. Beauzile converted the PAT to give Mt. Ida the one point lead, 22-21, heading into the final quarter.

The teams combined for three punts to open the fourth quarter.  Junior DB Sean Stone intercepted a fourth down pass on the Mustangs' second possession of the frame to get the ball back for the Cadets at their own eight-yard line with 5:02 left to play.

NU was able to advance the ball to its own 34-yard line before Sabourin's pass on second-and-10 was picked off by Mack Charles at the Norwich 38-yard line.

The Cadets were able to get one more crack at a game-winning drive, but a sack of Sabourin by Mt. Ida's A.J. Knibbs on third-and-11 from the MIC 33-yard line with under a minute to go in the contest all but ended the game. With no timeouts and half a second on the clock all Cadets could do is air out a hail mary pass that was batted down by a Mustang defender to seal the victory for Mt. Ida.

Sabourin led the Cadets with 14 carries for 142 yards on the ground, while going 13-for-25 for 119 yards through the air. Denton had seven catches for 101 yards on the day. Fulford added 80 yards and his two touchdowns rushing on 12 carries.

Senior DL Zach Sucharski had a monster game for the Cadets defensively, recording seven total tackles, four tackles-for-loss and a sack. Fellow senior DL Chris Roberto also had seven tackles (two for a loss) as did junior LB Joseph Gumbrewicz.

The Cadets look to bounce back next Saturday, Oct. 2, when they travel to Leicester, Mass. to take on Becker College. The ECFC match-up is set to get under way at 1:00 p.m. 

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