CASTLETON, Vt. – In front of the third-largest crowd to attend a Castleton football game at Spartan Stadium, the Spartans used the running game and tough defense to defeat Norwich University, 28-14, Saturday night in the Battle for the Maple Sap Bucket Trophy.
Moe Harris carried the ball 35 times for 149 yards and two touchdowns, his highest rushing yardage output since last season's game against Anna Maria. In addition, he caught a pass for 16 yards, threw a pass to Adnane Adossama for 11 yards, and returned a kickoff 26 yards to total 191 all-purpose yards.
After Norwich went three-and-out to open the game, Harris set the tone with a 41-yard run on his first carry of the game. Mitchell Caron completed consecutive passes to Jermaine Coggins, the second one for 24 yards down to the Norwich nine yard line, and Harris needed just two carries to complete the drive with a touchdown.
The Castleton defense shut the Norwich offense down for the vast majority of the game, including an interception by Zak Pollicino on the Cadets' second possession of the game. Near the end of the first quarter, Philippe Bazinet completed a 46-yard pass to Tristan Weathers down to the Castleton 15 yard line, but the Spartans stopped the Cadet running game, and Owen Tretter blocked a 27-yard field goal attempt by Clyde Tamburro to keep Norwich off the scoreboard.
Castleton punter Mike Morgan continually gave Norwich a long field to work with, including a punt downed at the Cadet five-yard line midway through the second quarter. After a Norwich three-and-out, the Spartans took over on the Norwich 37 yard line and put together a six-play drive, capped by an 11-yard touchdown pass from Caron to Coggins.
After yet another Norwich three-and-out, Castleton started its next drive at its own 30-yard line with 3:13 remaining in the first half. Caron completed consecutive passes to Nick Boles for 17 yards, to Harris for 16 yards, and to Adossama for 20 yards down to the Cadet nine-yard line. On a quarterback keeper, Caron advanced to the one yard line, and then he took it into the end zone himself on the next play with a quarterback sneak, giving the Spartans a 21-0 lead at halftime.
The teams combined for just three first downs in the third quarter, and that trend would continue through the first half of the fourth quarter. Justin Nolan earned a strip sack, with Jayson Gilsinger recovering the ball at the Norwich 15-yard line. Harris ran the ball all five times in the ensuing drive, capping it with a one-yard touchdown run to increase the Castleton advantage to 28-0.
Helped by a Castleton pass interference penalty, Norwich finally got on the board thanks to a two-yard touchdown run by Connor Bourque with 2:30 remaining in the game. After the Spartans punted the ball away, Cadet backup quarterback Matthew Chaffee completed a 58-yard touchdown catch and run by Weathers, but Norwich illegally touched the ball on the ensuing onside kick attempt, and Castleton ran out the clock.
Caron enjoyed a solid passing effort, completing 9-of-16 passes for 122 yards and a touchdown, with Coggins and Adossama earning 51 receiving yards apiece. The Spartans scored touchdowns on all four red-zone chances and held the ball for over 35 minutes, including 11:31 in the third quarter.
Norwich (0-3) was led by Weathers, who finished with four receptions for 137 yards. After Bazinet completed just 4-of-15 passes for 86 yards, Chaffee took over in the second half and completed 8-of-24 passes for 148 yards. The Cadet running game, which had averaged 256 rushing yards per game coming into Saturday's contest, was held to 62 net yards rushing.
The Castleton defense was led once again by Jakob Trautwein with 14 total tackles, including three tackles for a loss. Nolan finished with six tackles, including the sack, while Shane Hurley also earned six tackles and Tretter contributed four tackles, two pass breakups, and the blocked field goal attempt.
Castleton (1-2) will enjoy a bye week as it prepares to enter the ECFC portion of the schedule, starting Saturday, Sept. 30, at Anna Maria starting at 3 p.m. The Spartans return home the following week to face Mount Ida Saturday, Oct. 7, at 1 p.m.