Football: Norwich Early Lead Doesn't Hold in Loss to MIT

Photo courtesy of Aaron Duke
Photo courtesy of Aaron Duke

CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The Norwich University football team came away from Saturday's New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) road game against MIT on Roberts Field at Steinbrenner Stadium with a 34-21 loss despite holding a lead for a good portion of the game. 

MIT improved to 6-2 overall and 5-1 within the NEWMAC following the victory, while Norwich fell to 5-4 overall with a 2-4 mark in NEWMAC play. 

The teams were nearly identical in yards of total offense, with Norwich holding a narrow 364-362 edge. The time of possession was tilted in MIT's favor at 36:10-23:50, while the Cadets outgained the Engineers in the air, 342-227. 

Junior wide receiver Manni Romero (Phillipsburg, N.J.) paced the Norwich offense with seven catches for 140 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Trevor Chase (Eliot, Maine) also registered seven receptions while totaling 65 yards. Junior quarterback Matt Dunn (Rockland, Mass.) accumulated 322-yards passing and added a pair of touchdowns while completing 50 percent of his passes. 

With his 28 completions in today's contest, Dunn moved into second place all-time in Norwich history with 336 career completions. He surpassed Kris Sabourin '13 who had amassed 310 completions during his tenure with the Cadets. Ben Clark '04 sits atop the all-time list with 458 completions. Dunn's two touchdowns (32) also moved him into third place for most career passing touchdowns, surpassing Mike Gallagher '85 who has 31 career TD throws. Romero also moved up in the all-time record books with his touchdown grab in today's contest. His 17 career TDs tied him for second place all-time with Ryan Squires '00. 

In a quiet first half, the teams combined for just 13 total points. This was not a harbinger of what was to come in the second half. 

MIT had the only scoring of the first quarter as kicker Mark Wright converted a 35-yard field goal with 8:14 left for a 3-0 lead. 

The score remained that way until 6:54 left in the second when junior wideout Ryan Reed (Ballston, Spa, N.Y.) and Dunn connected on a trick play for the 7-3 Norwich lead. Dunn lateraled the ball across the field to Reed, who then threw back across the field to Dunn who raced up the far sideline from 20 yards out for the touchdown. 

MIT's Wright added another field goal with 1:04 remaining before the half when he connected from 37 yards out as Norwich headed to the locker room with a slim 7-6 margin at halftime.

The host Engineers wasted little time in restoring their lead as they converted on third down and goal with a six-yard touchdown pass from Chris Mauck to Mason DuMez just 4:17 into the third quarter giving them a 13-7 advantage. 

The Cadets answered immediately with the game's longest play from scrimmage as Romero got in behind the MIT defense and pulled down a 62-yard touchdown in stride to put the Cadets up 14-13. 

MIT regained the lead for good with 5:12 left in the third as Eric Bradford went across the middle and made a 13-yard TD catch for the 20-14 lead. The Engineers eventually stretched the lead out to 34-14 early in fourth behind two touchdown receptions from Keithen Shepard. Shepard's first TD was a 28-yard catch across the middle, followed by a seven-yard TD just inside the pylon. 

Norwich closed out the scoring with 2:46 remaining as Reed caught a six-yard touchdown from Dunn to cap a 12-play, 80-yard drive.

The MIT defense forced three Norwich turnovers and was led in tackles by Ben Delhees with 10.  

Norwich welcomed the return of senior defensive lineman Martin Bailey (Bedford Corners, N.Y.) who registered a game-high 14 tackles, including three tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Senior linebacker Cahan Quinn (Putnam, Conn.) also finished in double figures in tackles with 11.

Norwich will close out the regular season next Saturday at home when the Cadets host WPI in a game scheduled for a 12 p.m. start.

Football: 2019 Season Preview
September 3, 2019 Football: 2019 Season Preview