CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton University football team welcomes in-state rival Norwich University this Saturday, Sept. 16, in the annual Homecoming game and the Battle for the Maple Sap Bucket, with kickoff at Spartan Stadium scheduled for 6 p.m.
Both the Spartans and the Cadets are still looking for their first victory of the 2017 season. Castleton rallied to tie Fitchburg State at 10-10 early in the fourth quarter, but the Falcons scored three straight touchdowns to defeat the Spartans, 31-10, last Saturday night at Spartan Stadium. In a low-scoring affair, Norwich lost to St. Lawrence, 17-10, last Saturday afternoon at Sabine Field in Northfield, Vt.
Castleton is struggling on the offensive side of the ball, averaging just 194 yards of total offense and scoring 17 points in its first two games. After rushing for 89 yards Saturday against Fitchburg State, Moe Harris is second in the ECFC in rushing yards per game, averaging 70.5 yards per game.
Jakob Trautwein was named ECFC Defensive Player of the Week after collecting 18 tackles, including two sacks, last Saturday night against Fitchburg State. Trautwein leads the ECFC and is seventh in Division III in tackles per game at 15.0, plus he is tied with Bubba Collins for the team lead in tackles for loss at 3.5 each.
Despite averaging 256 rushing yards per game, Norwich has started the season 0-2 with losses to Morrisville State (34-20) and to St. Lawrence (17-10). Quarterback Philippe Bazinet leads the Cadet rushing attack with 184 yards on 31 carries, with Connor Bourque carrying the ball 19 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns.
Sophomore inside linebacker Jonathan Moltimer leads the Cadet defense with 24 total tackles, including 1.5 tackles for a loss. However, Norwich has struggled to stop its first two opponents, especially on the ground. The Cadets have given up 246.5 rushing yards per game as part of 392.0 total yards and 25.5 points per game allowed.
Norwich has won five of the eight meetings between the in-state rivals, while Castleton has gained possession of the Maple Sap Bucket Trophy three times. The last time these two teams met at Spartan Stadium, Castleton kept control of the trophy with a 31-13 victory on Nov. 14, 2015.
Last season in Northfield, Vt., Norwich regained possession of the trophy, holding off a late Castleton rally for a 35-27 victory. In a back-and-forth affair that saw 800 yards of total offense between the two teams, Castleton took a 24-14 lead early in the third quarter on a seven-yard touchdown pass from Mitchell Caron to Soren Pelz-Walsh.
Aaron Conner led the Cadet comeback with touchdown runs of 10 yards and 27 yards to give Norwich a 28-24 lead seven seconds into the fourth quarter. Ryan Payne hit a 21-yard field goal to close the Spartan deficit to one, but Norwich capped a 13-play, 74-yard drive that took 6:42 with a one-yard touchdown run by Nicholas Benoit. Castleton started the ensuing drive at its own 30-yard line and drove all the way to the Norwich four-yard line, but the Spartans could not cross the goal line before time ran out.
The game will be streamed live by Northeast Sports Network (NSN) as well as carried by PEG-TV Channel 20 in Rutland, Vt. In addition, WVNR 1340 AM out of Poultney, Vt., is scheduled to broadcast the game live.