NORTHFIELD, Vt. – Junior Clyde Tamburro's 26-yard field goal on the final play of the game lifted Norwich to a come-from-behind 17-14 win to capture The Mug in the New England Women's and Men's Athletic Conference (NEWMAC) opener.
Norwich captures The Mug for the first time since 2004 snapping a three-game slide in the series with Coast Guard. The Cadets improve to 3-0 and 1-0 in the NEWMAC while the Bears drop to 2-1 overall and 0-1 in conference play.
The game winning drive started at the Cadet 49 yard line with 4:55 left.
Coast Guard forced five turnovers, four of those interceptions, and turned the ball over just once, but had just nine first downs in the loss.
Norwich finished with 248 total yards, 171 passing while Coast Guard had 212 yards, 143 passing in the game.
Senior quarterback Ryan Jones was 13 of 25 for 143 yards with one touchdown and one interception while sophomore Damaso Jaime led the Bears with two receptions for 87 yards and a touchdown.
Senior Patrick Crowley had interceptions on Norwich's first two possessions of the second half, but the Cadets tied the game 7-7 on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Matthew Dunn to Connor Bourque and Clyde Tamburro added the extra point with 6:33 left in the third quarter. Manni Romero had a 38 yard punt return to put the ball at the Coast Guard 20.
Cahan Quinn would intercept Jones two plays later giving the Cadets the ball at the Bear 31, but Norwich would turn the ball over when senior Dan Dinges recovered a long botched snap at the Norwich 44.
Jones would give the Bears the lead on a 25-yard touchdown run on 3rd and nine with 3:02 left and Crowley's kick made the score 14-7.
Norwich was driving to tie the game and had a first and goal at the six before a pair of penalties, a sack and then an interception by Dinges gave the ball back to Coast Guard with 12:34 left.
The Cadets tied the game 14-14 on a 12-yard run by Aaron Conner with 7:01 left. In that drive,
Norwich converted on 4th down and three from the 30 with a 17-yard pass to Ryan Reed to keep the drive alive.
The Bears were forced to punt and Norwich took over at its own 49 with 4:55 left setting up the game winning drive. Norwich converted on 2nd and 24 with a 28-yard pass to Reed down to the Bear 12.
Dunn finished 18 of 36 for 171 yards with one touchdown and four interceptions while Romero led the Cadets with six receptions for 57 yards in the win. Conner had a game-high 17 carries and 80 yards for Norwich.
Freshman Jared Colletti returned the opening kickoff 53 yards to the Norwich 42, but the Cadet defense forced a stop on fourth down at the 37 to keep the Bears off the board in the opening minutes.
Each team would then punt three straight times with Norwich holding the edge in field possession as the Bears would start each possession inside its 15 yard line while Norwich started three of those in Coast Guard territory.
Coast Guard junior linebacker Eugene Bizer would create the first turnover of the game as he intercepted Dunn and returned it 16 yards to the Bear 41 with 3:41 left in the first quarter.
Romero gave the Cadets the ball at the Coast Guard 45 following a 42-yard punt return with Dinges making a touchdown saving tackle with 1:18 left in the opening quarter.
The first quarter saw just 116 yards of total offense between the two teams, 78 by Norwich and 38 by the Bears, Coast Guard had just one first down in the opening quarter.
Norwich would miss a 22-yard field goal with 13:48 left in the first half to keep the game scoreless as the Coast Guard defense held once again.
Coast Guard would pick up just its second first down of the game when Jones threw a short pass to Jaime who took it 76 yards for the touchdown and Pat Crowley added the PAT for a 7-0 lead, the only points of the first half, with 12:51 left in the half.
The Coast Guard defense held Norwich to just seven total yards in the second quarter while the Bears had 105 yards in the second quarter.
The Bears had 143 yards in the first half (118 passing) while Norwich was held to 85 yards of total offense in the first half. Jones was 7 of 15 for 118 yards in the first half.
Bizer led the Coast Guard defense with 13 tackles including a pair of tackles for loss and an interception.
Coast Guard will play its home opener next week when they host Curry on Saturday at 1:30 in the final non-conference game of the season.