College Football: Turnovers Costly as Norwich Falls to WPI, 27-10

Courtesy Norwich Sports Information

WORCESTER, Mass. – The Norwich University football team dropped a 27-10 decision to Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in a non-conference matchup on Saturday, Sept. 19.

With the loss, the Cadets are now 0-3 on the year, while WPI improves to 3-0 overall.

Freshman quarterback Philippe Banzinet (Otterburn Park, Quebec) threw (25-40) for 280 passing yards with two interceptions, while sophomore running back Quincy Williams (Brossard, Quebec) ran a team-high 60 yards on 21 attempts. Wide receivers Pierre Noel (Manchester, N.H.)  and Trystan Colaire (Pickering, Ontario) caught for  120 and 107 receiving yards, respectively.

On the defensive end, senior linebacker Eleazar Rausseo (Saugus, Mass.) posted seven solo and three assist tackles for a team-high 10 tackles with a forced fumble on the day. Sophomore Austin Roberts (East Bridgewater, Mass.) collected six total tackles, while Joshua Johnson (Trophy Club, Texas), Derek Lotito (Swanzey, N.H.), Michael O’Neill (Winthrop, Mass.) and Micah Bosseler (Colorado Springs, Colo.) came up with four total tackles apiece.

Norwich got off to a slow start. Not only did a penalty forced the Cadets to move back five yards to the 22 yard line, a bad snap that sailed over Bazinet’s head forced him to recover the ball in the end zone, giving WPI the 2-0 score.

WPI would also make the same mistake on the ensuing drive, snapping the ball over the quarterback’s head for a loss of 11 yards but Engineers would not only recover the ball but they would march down the field on seven-plays for 43-yards before Norwich stopped the Engineers’ progress, forcing a 22-yard field goal attempted that went through the uprights, for the 5-0 lead.

After shutting down Norwich’s offensive attack, WPI utilized a balanced passing and rushing game on a 10-plays for 69-yards as wide receiver Brandon Eccher (Franklin, Mass.) received a 6-yard pass from quarterback Dan Eckler (Stoughton, Mass.) for the touchdown. On the extra point attempt, linebacker Jepthe Soulouque (Everett, Mass.) would get a piece of the ball for the block, holding WPI at 11-0.

Norwich would get on the board on the kickoff as Bazinet connected to Noel on a 20-yard pass at the Engineers’ 15 yard line before a costly 15-yard penalty against WPI spotted the ball on the five-yard line. It would take Williams three attempts before he finally punched through the defensive wall for the Cadets’ first score of the game followed by kicker Wes Medeiros’ (Gilford, N.H.) extra-point as Norwich trailed 10-7.

The momentum remained in favor of the Cadets as Norwich’s defensive unit kept the Engineers at bay, forcing them to punt on 4th and 1 to retain the ball once again. On third and long, Bazinet would connect with Noel on a 25-yard reception as Noel pulled in the ball in the air between the two defenders and took off running before being tackled. The Cadets would pound the ground for 11 yards before coming up short on a third down attempt at the WPI’s 30-yard line, forcing Medieros to successfully attempt a 47-yard field goal as Norwich trailed 11-10 midway through the second quarter.

After a 10-play 58-yard drive, WPI looked to score once more before the break but a strong defensive stop by the Cadets forced the Engineers to go for a 29-yard field goal that sailed between the uprights as WPI led 14-10 at the half.

After the kickoff to start the second half, WPI wasted no time and scored in just over two minutes as Ecker found running back Brian Marsh (Troy, N.Y.) open for a 22-yard pass that ended up in the end zone for the score, however the Engineers failed to make the extra point attempt as they maintained the lead, 20-10.

Norwich looked to get back into the game on the next drive, moving the ball down the field for 48-yards before the Cadets turned the ball over on downs at the WPI’s 27 yard line. The Engineers needed just one play to put seven more points on the board after Eckler threw a long bomb to Mitch Celaj (Worcester, Mass.) for 73 yards to extend WPI’s lead to 27-10 with 7:52 remaining in the third quarter.

After a strong Norwich defensive stop, Bosseler managed get his hands on the ball off WPI’s punt as the ball landed at the Norwich’s 38 yard line. The Cadets went to work, looking to cut down the deficit only to turn the ball over three plays later as Bazinet was picked off by WPI’s linebacker Brian Murtagh (Wayland, Mass.) at the Norwich 39 yard line.

Norwich’s defensive unit would come up with another stop on WPI’s progress, limiting the Engineers to just 14-yards on six plays before junior linebacker Tyler Bates (Marblehead, Mass.) broke up the play to force a WPI turnover on downs.

The Cadets struggled to produce points on the board late in the fourth quarter as WPI continued to disrupt their rhythm. The Engineers would force two Norwich turnovers on an interception and a forced fumble. WPI looked to burn off the clock in the final minutes before Bosseler forced the fumble against WPI as sophomore linebacker David Heinsohn (Lorton, Va.) covered up the football for Norwich’s possession.

With time running out, the Cadets made a last effort attempt to score once more as they hurried down the field for 59 yards as Bazinet threw for 26 yards before completing a 29-yard bomb to wide receiver Trystan Colaire (Pickering, Ontario) to spot the ball at the WPI 34-yard line as time expired.

Despite the five costly turnovers, Norwich managed to produce 362 offensive yards to WPI’s 368. The Cadets’ strong defensive stops that combined for 61 total tackles, four tackle for losses of 18 yards, three forced fumbles and two blocks, kept WPI at bay from racking up the points.

Norwich will take a bye week next week as the Cadets prepare for the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) opener on Oct. 3 when NU hosts Becker College for the 2 p.m. kickoff during homecoming weekend.

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