CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton University football team closes the 2016 season with the annual Battle for the Maple Sap Bucket Trophy, as the Spartans head to Northfield, Vt., to face the Norwich University Cadets Saturday, Nov. 12, starting at 1 p.m. at Sabine Field.
Castleton (4-5, 4-2 ECFC) clinched a third-straight winning conference record and moved back into a tie for second place in the ECFC standings with a thrilling 23-22 victory over Becker College last Saturday. Mitchell Caron found Anthony Porcelli for a 51-yard touchdown pass with 3:45 remaining in the fourth quarter, earning ECFC Play of the Week honors, and the Spartans held the Hawks scoreless in Becker's final seven drives of the game.
As a team, Castleton is averaging 19.0 points and 291.4 yards of total offense per game, including 80.3 rushing yards and 211.1 passing yards per contest. Caron now leads the ECFC in passing yards per game (240.1) and is second in the league in touchdown passes (11). After running for 113 yards on 23 carries last Saturday, Moe Harris is fourth in the conference with 76.0 rushing yards per game, while Soren Pelz-Walsh continues to lead the league in receiving yards per game (74.8) and receiving touchdowns (eight).
On defense, the Spartans have allowed 27.4 points and 369.6 yards per game, including 191.9 rushing yards allowed and 177.7 passing yards given up per game. Jakob Trautwein now leads the team and the conference with 13.9 tackles per game, currently third in all of Division III. Darren Callan is right behind him in fourth place in the country with 13.7 tackles per game. Both Trautwein and Callan have earned more tackles this season than any other Castleton player in a single year.
Norwich saw its four-game winning streak snapped last Saturday with a 27-13 loss at Husson, dropping the Cadets' overall record to 4-5 and its league mark to 4-2. In conference play, the Cadets are scoring 20.2 points per game while allowing just 13.7 points per contest.
Philippe Bazinet has completed just 45.9 percent (94-for-205) of his pass attempts for 807 yards with six touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Pierre Noel leads the team with 30 receptions for 324 yards and two touchdowns, while Grant Troxell has contributed 27 receptions for 251 yards and one touchdown. On the ground, Patrick Brown leads the way, collecting 701 yards on 126 carries and six touchdowns.
On the defensive side of the ball for Norwich, Benjamin Hummer leads the Cadets with 75 total tackles, with Cody Lindell and Derek Lotito earning 57 tackles apiece. Jake Apthorpe leads the team with 10.5 tackles for a loss, including three sacks, while Tyler Oppelt paces the defensive backfield with three interceptions. Austin Roberts has earned 53 total tackles, including four tackles for a loss, as well as two interceptions and a team-high six pass breakups.
Norwich leads the all-time series, 4-3, but Castleton has won three of the last four meetings, including the two previous contests at Norwich. On Nov. 15, 2014, in Northfield, the Spartans raced out to a 34-0 lead in the first half on their way to a 48-28 victory to reclaim the Maple Sap Bucket Trophy. Spartan quarterback George Busharis went 24-for-37 for 317 yards and four touchdown passes, plus he ran for two more scores. Last season at Spartan Stadium, Busharis found Cyle Machia for two touchdown passes to give Castleton the lead for good as the Spartans defeated the Cadets for the first time at home, 31-13.