NORTHFIELD, Vt. - Senior quarterback Steven Wilken (Ringwood, N.J.) threw for five TDs as Salve Regina University football defeated Norwich University, 48-21, in the 2014 Eastern College Athletic Conference (ECAC) NorthEast Bowl at Sabine Field.
Both teams end their seasons with 7-4 records.
The Cadets stayed right with the high powered Seahawk offense for over three quarters, but one of the best offenses in the region took advantage of Norwich's turnovers and overwhelmed the defense towards the end to score 34 unanswered points.
After both teams scored a pair of touchdowns, Norwich managed to block an extra-point attempt to hold onto the 21-20 lead at the half.
Senior quarterback Joshua Woodard (Dayton, Maine) led the Cadets with 143 passing yards and 12 rushing yards for two touchdowns, while running back Al Georgio (West Greenwich, R.I.) accumulated 196 rushing yards, including a 57-yard rushing touchdown.
Norwich opened its first possession of the game with a five-play, 75-yard scoring drive that saw a 57-yard rushing touchdown by Georgio to put the Cadets up 7-0. The Seahawks tied it up late in the first quarter after Wilken found tight end Alex Leddy (Warwick, R.I.) open in the end zone for the seven-yard touchdown.
Salve Regina would get its first lead of the game after Garrett Rupe (Peckville, Pa.) blocked Norwich's punt attempt, recovered the ball and returned it for the 40-yard touchdown to make it 14-7 with 11:30 remaining in the first half.
Norwich quickly responded on the scoring drive as Georgio would march the Cadets down the field on a 47-yard rush before Woodward completed a 13-yard pass to freshman wide receiver Trystan Colaire (Pickering, Ontario) in the end zone to give Norwich the 21-14 lead.
With 3:29 remaining in the half, the Seahawks went back to work only to turn the ball over the ball three plays in as Michael O'Neill (Winthrop, Mass.) intercepted a Wilken pass to give Norwich another chance to score. The Cadets, who are in excellent field position on their own 25 yard line, could not take advantage of the position and were forced to punt the ball away. The Seahawks utilized a six-play, 61-yard scoring drive as Wilken threw a deep pass to Matthew Traynor (Secaucus, N.J.) for the 37-yard touchdown.
Norwich's defense came up big on the on the extra-point attempt as senior linebacker Addision Nye (Hooksett, N.H.) showed the real reason why he was recently named Eastern Collegiate Football Conference (ECFC) First Team on Thursday as he got a hand on the ball as it sailed into the air and off his fingertips as both teams headed into the locker room with Norwich holding onto the 21-20 lead at the half.
After the break, the Cadets intercepted another Wilken pass at the Salve Regina's 16 yard line to open the half but could not produce a score as Salve Regina would force Norwich to punt twice before finding the end zone at the 7:45 mark of the third quarter. The Seahawks would use only 37 yards as Wilken connected with Alex Hulme (Hopkinton, Mass.) for the 15-yard touchdown to give Salve Regina its second lead of the game, 28-21.
Norwich's offense continued to sputter on the drive as the Seahawks held the Cadets to just 73 yards in the second half. Salve Regina would score once more in the third quarter before scoring twice in the fourth for the 48-21 victory as the Seahawks picked up their third ECAC Bowl title in program history, their first road triumph in three trips, and finish 2014 with a five-game win streak.
The Norwich defense was paced by senior linebacker Jimmy Labell (Stanhope, N.J.) and junior Michael Finney (Killenn, Texas) both totaled seven tackles, while junior Gary Gladden (Boynton Beach, Fla.) and senior Dan Pallotto (Westbrook, Conn.) recording six tackles each. Kicker Wesley Medeiros (Gilford, N.H.) made all three of his extra-point-attempts. Danny Ives (Madison, Conn.) led the Salve Regina defense with 10 tackles and a forced fumble.
Senior running back Dan Buonocore (Mahwah, N.J.) rushed eight times for 21 yards to become the fourth individual in school history to amass over 1,000 yards rushing in a single season (1,012).
Mark DeBiasio set the single-season record of 1,461 in 1998 after Jim Callahan had three seasons over the rushing milestone (1,122 in 1994; 1,105 in 1995; 1,106 in 1996). Lucas Arnold, DeBiasio's backfield mate, rushed for 1,162 yards in 2000, including the program's single-game high of 262 yards in a Salve Regina win at UMass Dartmouth (October 28, 2000).
Callahan played in the first of Salve Regina's ECAC Bowl Games on November 16, 1996, at Schenectady, N.Y., against Union College. The Dutchmen won their home game, 26-13.
DeBiasio rushed 29 times for 167 yards and three touchdowns to lead Salve Regina to a 36-6 victory over Plymouth State in the ECAC Northeast Division III Football Championship on November 21, 1998.