CANTON -- Norwich University's Chris Denton made a game-high seven catches for 169 yards and three touchdowns, pacing the Cadets to a 25-14 victory over the St. Lawrence University football team at Leckonby Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The Cadets (2-0) have now won 10 consecutive games dating back to September 19, 2009, while the Saints (0-2) lost to Norwich for only the second time in six years.
"They were able to make a few big plays down the field, as (Denton) did a nice job on the outside," said St. Lawrence head coach Mark Raymond. "We saw some positive things on both sides of the ball. We have a new system on offense and some young guys getting some valuable experience, while defensively I thought we pressured the quarterback at times and held our own up front."
Pacing the St. Lawrence offense were sophomore Jeremy Ramos and junior Ethan Sutton, who combined for 99 yards on the ground. Ramos and classmate Stephen Buskey scored their first collegiate touchdowns against the Cadets, while sophomore Oraene Morgan had a career-best game defensively with a game-high 12 total tackles.
Norwich wasted little time in taking an early 6-0 lead, as Denton scored only 2:28 into the contest from 27 yards out thanks to a perfectly thrown ball by Kris Sabourin (extra point try failed). However, the Cadets gave the Saints a gift when Denton touched a punt at his own 8-yard line and the ball was recovered St. Lawrence's Matt Pickrell, giving the home team a first-and-goal try at the Norwich 4-yard line. Three plays later, junior quarterback Andy Spadoni used play-action and found Buskey wide open in the end zone to tie the score at 6-6. Junior Matt Dodge's extra point try was good, putting the Saints on top 7-6 at 5:54 of the first quarter.
The Saints' defense kept the team ahead at the end of one quarter, as junior Brendan McCarthy forced Sabourin to fumble on the St. Lawrence 12-yard line to kill a Norwich drive. Junior Doug Geraghty then knocked the ball from Sabourin on the Saints' 8-yard line on the Cadets opening drive of the second quarter, keeping the Scarlet and Brown on top 7-6.
Norwich would regain the lead with 49 seconds left in the first half after an impressive 14-play, 57 yard drive that included three key 3rd down conversions. Kyle Marzeoti capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown rush to give the Cadets a 12-7 lead before halftime, as a two-point conversion try failed.
Neither team was able to get much offense going, as Morgan controlled the line of scrimmage for St. Lawrence and Norwich linebacker Rocco DiMeco responded for the Cadet defense. It took a bit of good fortune for Norwich to break the defensive struggle, as Sabourin completed a 3rd-and-5 pass to Denton when a St. Lawrence cornerback fell in coverage. That small break allowed Denton to scamper down the sideline and into the end zone for a 68-yard touchdown reception with 2:25 remaining in the third quarter. Another two-point conversion try failed, and the Norwich lead remained at 18-7.
St. Lawrence refused to go away, as they put together a solid 6-play, 49-yard drive to pull back to within four points at 18-14. The Scarlet and Brown drown down the field all the way to the Norwich 17 before facing a 4th-and-1 try on the opening play of the fourth quarter. The team opted to go for the first down, and Ramos gave them much more as he broke free in the middle of the field and scored from 17-yards out. Dodge's extra point made the score 18-14 with 14:54 left in regulation.
Though St. Lawrence would take over on its own 7-yard line after forcing the Cadets to punt, the Saints faced a 4th-and-10 at their own 30-yard line. Sutton, who had already faked a punt earlier in the game to pick up a first down, tried to catch the Cadets off-guard, but was tackled before reaching the first down marker.
This gave Norwich great field position, and the visitors took advantage, putting together a 6-play drive that lasted 3:41 and was capped by an acrobatic touchdown grab by Denton over a St. Lawrence cornerback. The wide receiver's third touchdown of the day, followed by Long Ding's converted extra point, capped the game scoring with only 3:31 remaining, allowing Norwich to celebrate a 25-14 victory.
Norwich held the advantage statistically, as the Cadets closed with more first downs (20-12), rushing yards (179-116) and passing yards (223-83). The team's 402 yards of total offense doubled the Saints, which stayed in the game by forcing three Norwich turnovers.
The Scarlet and Brown will look to pick up their first win of 2010 next Saturday, September 18 when they host Alfred University at Leckonby Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for 1:00pm.