SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -
Just when it looked like Western New England might lose, senior quarterback Bryce Brown
(Guilford, CT) came through with a winning performance.
Brown ran three yards for the winning touchdown with 1:43 remaining in the game as the Golden Bears rallied for a 28-24 victory over visiting Norwich in the football opener for both squads Saturday (Sept. 3).
The 6'1", 179-lb. Brown compiled 393 total yards and was involved in all four touchdowns. He completed 17-of-23 passes for 248 yards and two touchdowns, and rushed for 145 yards on 16 carries (9.1 avg.) with two scores.
Brown's heroics capped an emotional day for WNE who observed a moment of silence before kickoff for Donald Emery
(the father of head coach Keith Emery
) who passed away Thursday night. The elder Emery didn't miss a game his son coached here for the past six years. The University also remembered former wide receiver Jimmy Geyer
'82 who died in the 9/11 attacks of the World Trade Center and former defensive back Sandrino Plutino
who played one season (2002). An elite Army Ranger, Plutino was killed by enemy insurgents last month in Afghanistan.
Both squads entertained the 2,282 fans with a hard-hitting battle, which featured several big plays and ill-advised penalties. There also were four lead changes in the second half.
Western New England started quickly scoring on the third play of the game when Brown tossed a short pass to freshman receiver Kareem Hines
(South Burlington, VT) who raced down the left sideline 68 yards for a touchdown just 1:25 into the contest. Hines grew up not far from Norwich attending South Burlington High School in Vermont.
The Golden Bears increased their margin to 14-0 on a nifty 33-yard scoring strike from Brown to junior receiver Mike Graham
(Norwalk, CT) at the 5:42 mark of the second period. The Cadets marched right back with their first touchdown going 79 yards on 12 plays with senior running back Andrew Fulford
(Gloucester, MA) going the final yard to cut the lead to 14-7 with 20 seconds left before halftime.
Norwich went ahead for the first time in the third quarter on a 39-yard field goal by junior Long Ding
(Franklin, MA) and a one-yard run by junior running back Danny Triplett
(Haverhill, MA) with 4:25 remaining in the stanza. Western New England answered with a seven-play, 82-yard drive to take a 21-17 advantage following a four-yard run by Brown with 1:53 left.
Brown suffered two interceptions in the fourth quarter with the first coming when senior corner back Jeramie Little
(Port St. Lucie, FL) picked off a pass in the end zone just three minutes into the period. Junior quarterback Kris Sabourin
(Georgia, VT) moved the Cadets from their 20 to the WNE 33, but when NU appeared to go for a first down on fourth-and-three, Sabourin took the snap and punted with the kick going only 22 yards.
Senior cornerback Colby Leclerc
(Raynham, MA) then made a huge play picking-off another Brown pass and returning it 21 yards to the Western New England 24. Freshman running back Derrick Pitts
(Schenectady, NY) ran four straight times and put the Cadets ahead again at 24-21 on a one-yard run with 3:34 left in the contest.
Brown atoned for his miscues by quickly leading the Golden Bears on a five-play, 66-yard scoring drive. Two plays following a key pass interference call, Hines had a 10-yard reception and Brown ran 27-yards to set up his winning score.
Western New England survived despite not scoring three times inside the red zone, losing the ball on downs at its three-yard line on its second possession of the game and on a fumble at its two-yard line early in the second quarter in addition to Brown's interception in the end zone.
The Golden Bears out-gained the Cadets by a 513 to 360 margin. Hines had three receptions for 81 yards in his college debut while freshman running back Kevin Cook
(Hamburg, NJ) added 50 yards rushing on six carries in his first varsity game. Junior linebacker Nolan Rickard
(Southington, CT) contributed 11 tackles and a sack. Sophomore linebacker Brandon Ormsby
(Windsor, CT) added 10 stops. Junior cornerback Corey Brown
(Worcester, MA) had an interception in the third period.
The Cadets had a strong running attack totaling 322 yards with three players just missing 100-yard performances. Triplett led the way with 98 yards on 13 carries (7.5 avg.) while Fulford and Sabourin each contributed 90 yards. Sophomore linebacker Jimmy Labell
(Stanhope, NJ) (who also had a sack) and senior linebacker Jason Springer
(Fall River, MA) each finished with 11 tackles.