BEVERLY, Mass. – For the second year in-a-row, the Endicott football team capped off their season with an ECAC North Atlantic Bowl victory as the Gulls defeated Norwich 34-14 at Endicott Stadium on Saturday afternoon to end their 2012 campaign with a 9-2 overall record.
The Most Outstanding Player in the game, Gull sophomore quarterback Drew Frenette (New Bedford, Mass.), threw for 248 yards and two touchdowns without an interception to lead the offense while 11 tackles, including five solo takedowns, by junior nose guard Marcell Cooper (Dorchester, Mass.) were integral in halting a relentless Cadets rushing attack that carried the ball 50 times.
Norwich, Endicott's second straight ECFC opponent in the ECAC North Atlantic Bowl, dropped to 7-3 on the season after making its fifth bowl appearance in program history. The Cadets were led offensively by 174 rushing yards including 64 by sophomore wide receiver Derrick Pitts (Schenectady, N.Y.) who finished with 101 all-purpose yards, adding 37 yards on four receptions. Senior quarterback Kris Sabourin (Georgia, Vt.) threw for 143 yards and a touchdown and ran for 56 yards, but an interception by Gulls senior defensive back Mike Lago (Newtown, Conn.) late in the fourth quarter ended Norwich's second-half comeback bid.
Playing in their last game in a Gulls uniform, running back Mike Wheeler (Hanover, Mass.) and wide receiver Mike Murphy (Chelmsford, Mass.) each eclipsed 100 yards on the ground and through the air, respectively, to pace Endicott's no huddle offense. Wheeler's four yard touchdown run gave Endicott a 20-0 halftime lead and his 17-yard dash over the pylon with 2:59 remaining in the game put the Gulls ahead by two scores.
Murphy hauled in six Frenette passes for 101 yards with two touchdowns, including a 55-yard scamper down the sideline that put Endicott up 26-14 early in the fourth quarter. Murphy wrapped up his record-breaking senior year as Endicott's all-time leading receiver and broke season records for receptions (61), receiving yards (880), and touchdown catches (15).
Endicott senior tailback Jared DiBiase (Cranston, R.I.) added 54 rushing and a one-yard touchdown run to put the Blue and Green on top 7-0 following a blocked punt by junior Andrew Lawson (Framingham, Mass.). Lawson's punt block set the Gulls up on the Norwich two yard line as DiBiase punched it in for his 10th touchdown of the season.
Down 20-0 early in the second half, Norwich got their first points of the game after a seven-play, 51-yard drive ended with a Al Georgio (West Greenwich, R.I.) touchdown run. The ensuing kickoff was fumbled by the Gulls and recovered by the Cadets deep in Endicott territory. Sabourin got Norwich down the Endicott nine, but facing 4th-and-4, the Gulls defense forced a turnover on downs to maintain a 13-point advantage.
Later in the game, Norwich held the ball at the start of the fourth quarter and looked to pull within a score. A 22-yard completion to senior Joshua Menge (Hagaman, N.Y.) kept the Cadets drive alive on 4th-and-2 and five plays later, Sabourin found sophomore wide receiver Adam Fraser (Lowell, Mass.) for a 14-yard touchdown to make it 20-14 with 12:01 remaining in the game.
Wheeler return the Norwich kickoff 27 yards to the Endicott 45-yard line and on the first play of the drive, Frenette connected with Murphy for the 55-yard score. The two-point conversation attempt failed but the Gulls went ahead 26-14.
Norwich's next drive lasted nearly four minutes, but a fourth down conversion attempt by the Cadets failed when Lago broke up a Sabourin pass to give Endicott back the ball. The Gulls would orchestrate a 70-yard drive capped off by Wheeler's second touchdown of the game to seal the victory with 2:59 remaining and Endicott leading by 20.
Senior linebackers Peter Kallas (Beverly, Mass.), PJ Bandini (Waltham, Mass.), and Craig Lussier (Dracut, Mass.) ended their careers with solid tackling efforts, finishing with 11, nine, and nine tackles, respectively. Junior Andrew Holfinger (Sterling, Mass.) had 12 tackles while junior Davas Wright (Fall River, Mass.) led all players with two tackles for a loss and a forced fumble. Sophomore lineman recorded the only sack of the game for a loss of nine yards.
Norwich freshman Dominique Davis (Kissimmee, Fla.) had a team-high 11 tackles, including nine solo takedowns, with sophomore linebacker Andy Mangin (Concord, Mass.) added nine in the loss. Four Cadet defenders contributed with eight tackles each.