With six seconds remaining until halftime and Springfield on their own 46-yard line, Pride quarterback Jake Eglintine dropped back into the pocket for one final play. The senior rolled out to his right behind the strength of his blockers. Just getting past the right hash marks, Eglintine aired the ball out into double coverage. As the ball soared through the air, junior receiver, Jedi Haynes sprinted into position only to watch the ball be tipped by teammate Jakai Wittingham. As the ball fell towards the maroon turf of the Springfield endzone, Haynes laid out towards the ball, snatching it up before it touched the field to end the half.
“Before every game we always pray to be in the right place at the right time to make a play and impact the game,” Haynes said.
Although passing was the Pride’s offensive key in this matchup, they usually employ a run first mentality. Entering the game with nearly 400 more rushing yards than any other college nationwide, Springfield has propelled themselves to 5-0, and a 2-0 record in the NEWMAC, with a 42-unanswered point win over the Cadets, 42-3.
The college football realm is most often dominated by the FBS in Division I. However, Springfield College’s rushing game for the 2017 season puts them atop the leaderboards.
In such a run-heavy offensive set, the Pride attempted five passes in the first half alone from Eglintine, who had a career day notching 83 passing yards.
The Cadets marched into field goal range to open the contest, and put up the first points of the game, but that would be the extent of Norwich’s scoring on the day.
Although the Pride seemed to have a great defensive day, holding Norwich to 70 total yards, and put up their much needed points on the board, they did struggle to hold onto the ball, fumbling six times and losing possession on four.
“Defensively, we played unbelievable,” Cerasuolo said. “Offensively, I don’t think we executed as well as we are capable of doing. We put the ball on the ground too much which hurt us. Moving forward, we have to take care of the football and execute a little bit better.”
Out of the gates in the second half, the Pride wasted no time with their aggressive defensive pressure. With just under two minutes gone in the third quarter, Norwich quarterback Matthew Chaffee dropped back and delivered a pass straight into the path of sophomore cornerback Kejuan Farquharson, who, like Haynes was in the right place at the right time. Farquharson with his momentum, was able to sprint past the entirety of the Cadet’s offense and take the ball to the house for a pick-six.
With 13:53 to play in the second quarter, Eglintine setup Haynes for the the Pride’s first score of the game and took a 7-3 lead. Just six minutes later, the Pride found themselves in the endzone again. Senior halfback Jordan Wilcox took the handoff from Eglintine in the backfield and punched a run up the gut. Junior Christian Humulock converted the extra point and extended the Springfield lead to 11.
The Pride entered the locker room at halftime with a 28-3 lead and a great deal of momentum carrying from Haynes’ diving save at the horn.
“Jedi’s been outstanding since he’s been here. He’s a quality, high character kid who works his tail off, you can’t say enough good things about him,” Cerasuolo said. “Then he gets rewarded with a nice pass on the seam ball and a nice catch on the Hail Mary right before the half which is a big play. We went in with some momentum.”
With just over four and a half minutes left, Cerasuolo called upon junior Chad Shade to take the reins. Shade went under center and called for the snap. He then rolled out to his left avoiding the tackle of two Cadet’s defenders and stepping forward, just behind the line of scrimmage, shuffle passing the ball to an open Wilcox for the Pride’s fifth touchdown of the game.
Haynes ended his day with two touchdowns for 76 yards. Adding to the Pride’s typical rushing style, Wilcox finished with 111 yards on 21 carries and Shade added 104 yards on 11 attempts.
Following the 39-point victory, the Pride will travel to Coast Guard (3-1, 1-0 in NEWMAC play) next Saturday.