For the second time since 1999 through 15 meetings, the Mount Ida College football team defeated visiting Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) rival Norwich University winning 36-32 Saturday afternoon on Alumni Field in Newton, Massachusetts.
The hosts improve to an overall record of 3-1 and start league play perfect at 1-0 while the visitors drop their first loss of 2012 (3-1) after starting 3-0 with a ECFC slate of 0-1.
The Mustangs, who beat the Cadets for the first time back in 2009 at home (22-21), were led by an impressive game from signal caller senior quarterback Scott Drosendahl (East Aurora, NY/East Aurora) going 25-36 for 389 yards through the air and four touchdown passes. Mount Ida junior wide receiver Jordan Hyman (Middletown, CT/Xavier) was the key factor for his squad offensively with his highest totals of the year registering two TD catches along with 168 yards receiving.
The Cadets struck twice in the first quarter to open the game staring with a nine play, 47 yard drive finished on a four yard quarterback keeper by senior Kris Sabourin (Georgia, VT/Bellows Free Academy) to take the immediate advantage. A failed point after attempt (PAT) by Norwich held the game at 6-0 with 11:23 left in the first quarter.
Mount Ida would turn the ball over on the following possession forced to punt and would pin the visitors on their own 16 yard line. Norwich charged down the field eating up most of the clock (6:44) on a 14 play, 84 yard drive that finalized on a 13 yard pass from Sabourin to junior wide out Zach Allen (Boston, MA/Northeast Metro) to lead 12-0. Another missed PAT by the Cadets kept the score where it was heading into the second stanza.
On the ensuing possession, Drosendahl found Hyman in the middle of the field three plays into the drive. Hyman weaved his way through a couple of secondary defenders taking the ball to the house on a 62 yard touchdown catch to pull within a score (12-7) after a successful point after by senior kicker Bobby Hemmann (Newington, CT/Newington).
Norwich didn't wait long scoring on their next possession on a six play, 61 yard drive finalized on a 19 yard scamper from senior running back Danny Triplett (Haverhill, MA/Haverhill) going ahead by two scores with 11:46 to go before the half up 18-7. The visitors attempted to punch in a two point conversion but it was stuffed before the goal line by the hosts' defense.
With just under six minutes to go before the midway point, the Mustangs cut the lead down to a field goal with a 16 yard touchdown pass from Drosendahl to junior wide receiver/tight end Kenny Jean (Dorchester, MA/Brighton) for his first TD catch of 2012 and his career. Fifth year Head Coach Michael Landers opted to go for two converting a mind boggling reverse, ran in by senior wide out Matthew Valentini (Lake Hoptacong, NJ/Jefferson TWP) making the score 18-15.
Just before halftime (3:17) the visitors would drive 81 yards down field in six plays to capitalize on a 10 yard touchdown run from junior Mike Cavanaugh (Raymond, NH/Manchester Central) pulling ahead 25-15 following a successful PAT.
Mount Ida had won the toss in the beginning of the contest and opted to defer until the second half. The Mustangs were unable to convert on the opening possession in the second half handing the ball back to the Cadets. The visitors were stymied by the hosts on the next drive and were forced into punting from the 29 yard line. Freshman Trevor Terrell (Lenape, NJ/Lenape) would come up huge for his team for the play of the game blocking the punt, picking up the ball and returning it into the end zone pulling within three points (25-22) after another good point after from Hemmann. The action went back-and-forth for the rest of the third quarter with no scoring on either side heading into the final stanza.
After a three-and-out by the Cadets, the Mustangs took advantage converting a nine play, 65 yard drive with a 22 yard touchdown catch from Drosendahl to junior tight end Michael Babich (Franklin Square, NY/H. Frank Corey) for his second TD of 2012 taking their first lead of the contest up 29-25 after a successful PAT.
It was a nail biter from here on out with a little over five minutes left to play in the game. Norwich drove the ball 94 yards on a 15 play drive scoring on a seven yard touchdown pass from Sabourin to Allen for his second touchdown catch of the day re-gaining the advantage up 32-29 after a good point after with only 30 seconds on the clock.
In the final Mustang drive of the day Drosendahl proved why he is a senior leader and veteran driving his squad 66 yards down field on only four plays to overtake the lead. Freshman wide receiver Dejhaun Williams (Newark, NJ/M.X. Shabazz) made two critical catches in those four plays to keep Mount Ida alive. Hyman would find the end zone for the second time on the day for put his team in line for the victory going ahead 36-32 with seven seconds remaining.
Norwich had two chances at the end of the game to get down the field, but was unable to convert giving the Mustangs their first ECFC win of the season to a very strong opponent.
The Mount Ida defense was led by sophomore linebacker Kayln Smithson (Vilseck, Germany/Vilseck) recorded nine total tackles. Mount Ida freshman safety Quan Lovett (Yarmouth, MA/Dennis-Yarmouth) had 4.5 tackles, two pass break-ups and his first interception of the season in a crucial point during the contest. Sophomore cornerback Jovan Wilkins (Poughkeepsie, NY/Poughkeepsie) added his first pick of the year as well on the final Hail Mary thrown into the end zone by Sabourin.
For the visitors, junior linebacker Stephen Gilmore (Norton, MA/Norton) recorded 8.5 total tackles and a sack while sophomore defensive back Dane Pallotto (Westbrook, CT/Amity Regional) added two interceptions.
Mount Ida will host ECFC member Anna Maria College next Saturday with game time slated for 1:00 p.m. while the Cadets will host Castleton State College the same day in league action with kick-off at 1:30 p.m.