All good things must come to an end. But for the Springfield College football team, the end doesn’t have to be all that bad. On Saturday afternoon, the Pride capped a four-game winning streak to end the season with a 28-27 win over Norwich in the ECAC North Atlantic Bowl.
Led by senior Joel Altavesta, who picked up 61-yards on 19 carries with a pair of touchdowns, the Pride finished the season with a 7-3 record. Jonathan Marrero added 77-yards on the ground with a score and Alex Martin picked up 69-yards on just five carries.
Al Georgio led the Cadets with 139-yards rushing on 21 carries and a score.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Altavesta, who won the ECAC Bowl player of the game award. “It’s awesome to be out here again and to finish it like this. The way we finished, grinding the ball down the field, was special.”
Springfield jumped ahead on the opening possession of the game. After the Pride took the opening kickoff close to midfield, a pair of long Alex Martin runs set the Pride up with first-and-goal. Louis Fenaroli punched it in from 3-yards out to put the Pride ahead 7-0.
Norwich answered on the very next possessions, using their own dominant running game. Georgio took off on a pair of long runs to start the drive, before Keyen Foley found Dan Jamieson wide open in the back of the endzone on a play action fake to even the score.
The Cadet defense stuffed Springfield on the ensuing possession, before blocking the fourth down punt attempt, giving the Norwich offense first a goal from the 3-yard line. Facing third-and-one from the one-yard line, Norwich botched the snap, giving the Pride the ball on their own three-yard line.
With a chance to go on a go-ahead drive, Springfield fumbled the ball again, putting the ball on the four-yard line.
Norwich would take advantage of this opportunity as Foley connected with Matt Mulcahy from four-yards out to put the Cadets ahead 14-7.
On the following possession, the Pride were bitten by the turnover bug again, fumbling the ball away in their own territory.
Norwich looked to extend the lead to 14, marching down and getting the ball inside the 10-yard line. After the Pride stuffed the Cadets on the three straight plays, Norwich elected to go for it on fourth-and-goal. After Pierre Noel took the carry towards the right pylon, he dove headlong from the three-yard line. Joey Racioppi stuffed him at the one-yard line, keeping the score at 14-7.
Both defenses would hold tight until halfway through the second quarter. Georgio took the carry to the right side and spun out of a tackle. While sprinting headlong towards the right pylon, Georgio stiff armed a defender and powered his way in for the score, extending the lead to 21-7.
Springfield marched down the field on the ensuing possession, cutting the lead to seven right before the half when Marrero tip toed the right sideline before extending the ball across the goal line to bring the Pride within seven with under one minute to play.
The second half kicked off with five consecutive three-and-outs from both teams before Springfield finally put together a scoring drive. Taking advantage of the ball at the Norwich 40-yard line, Marrero connected with James Poggio on third-and-six for a 35-yard gain to put the ball on the one-yard line. Two plays later, Altavesta punched it in to knot the game at 21.
Springfield would jump ahead by seven early in the fourth quarter. Using a 13-yard run from Marrero and a 16-yard connection from Marrero to Jason Woods before Altavesta powered in from one-yard out.
Norwich marched the down the field on the next possession. Taking off on a 15 play, 69-yard drive, taking 7:25 to get the ball inside the Springfield five-yard line. With the ball on the two-yard line, J.D. Milan marched in to cut the lead to 28-27. On the extra point attempt, Mike Varvara powered through the middle of the offensive front to block the kick and preserve the win.
The Pride would clinch the win when Jon Marrero took a two-yard carry on fourth-and-one to seal the ECAC Northatlantic Bowl Championship.
“After the first half, we really didn’t play well, we were fortunate to be in it at half time thanks to a couple key goal line stands by the defense,” said head coach Mike DeLong. “We are thrilled to end an exciting game as a nice win.”
For the seniors, the win caps the second straight season that they have won a bowl game at home after defeating Alfred University a year ago.
For the seniors, the win marks the end of a career. In the fall, no longer will they put on a helmet and shoulder pads and take to the gridiron. But as the old saying goes, all good things must come to an end.