By Chris Gionta
The Springfield College football team had its third consecutive win by 40-plus points when the Pride defeated Norwich 69-20 on Saturday afternoon at Stagg Field. This came after they lost two of their first three games of the season.
“The kids have been working really hard,” said Springfield head coach Mike Cerasuolo. “We had a couple weeks there that we were a little inconsistent during the week of practice and it showed on gameday. The past few weeks, we’ve stacked a lot of really good practices, and we talk about ‘Don’t be one-day tough.’ You gotta be two days, three days, four days, and it pays off on the fifth day.”
The Pride received the ball first, and they started the game with a methodical drive with many contributors. It began with a Jacob Silvester run to the left for 10 yards, then Dante Vasquez took a pitch to the right and ran it 16 yards until he was knocked out of bounds. David Wells ran it eight yards, and that was followed by a Blane Hart 10-yard run. Nicholas Raneri also had six yards on the drive.
Springfield finally reached the one yard-line, and Wells tucked the ball in for the quarterback sneak and crossed the goal line. Christian Hutra kicked the ball through the uprights, and the Pride were up 7-0 less than five minutes into the game.
It was not long before Springfield was driving again. Norwich quarterback Mitchell Theal dropped back to pass on the Cadets’ first offensive play and threw it deep. Defensive back Bryan Feliciano was tight on his coverage and picked it off at his highest point in the air and was downed at the Pride 36 yard-line.
Springfield’s drive following the interception featured 31 rushing yards by Arsen Shtefan, and it ended on a 34-yard field goal by Hutra.
The next Norwich possession resulted in five lost yards and a punt. After Raneri ran for six yards, Wells kept the ball and drove through the middle of the line. He ran with purpose and broke tackles along the way before he was finally brought down at the one yard-line after a 45-yard gain. Raneri punched it in for Springfield’s second touchdown of the game.
The Pride forced another three-and-out and took possession at their 41-yard line. On the first play of the drive, Vasquez ran the ball 16 yards. Following that, Wells faked a handoff and dropped back. He found Hart down the field a step ahead of his defender, and they connected for a 39-yard pass to bring Springfield to the Cadets’ four yard-line. Next, Cannizzaro ran the ball in for a touchdown.
After that, it was another Norwich three-and-out followed by another Springfield touchdown drive. Shtefan had 32 rushing yards on the drive, and Wells had the rushing touchdown from three yards out.
The fifth touchdown for Springfield was scored by Cannizzaro on a 26-yard run, and on Norwich’s following drive, the punt was blocked, and the ball went out of bounds at the Cadets’ two yard-line. Wells ran in his third touchdown of the day, and the extra point made it 45-0 Springfield with 6:31 left in the second quarter.
The Cadets responded with a 69-yard touchdown pass to Kydell Stewart. The snap on the extra point was botched, so the game remained 45-6 Springfield. The last score of the first half was a 29-yard field goal by Hutra.
The Pride’s starters had one more possession in the game, where they went on an 8-play, 70-yard drive that ended with a Dante Vasquez three-yard touchdown run.
The game saw two more big touchdown plays from Norwich’s Kydell Stewart, as well as two touchdown runs from Springfield quarterback Armando Torres. Torres also had two long passing plays that resulted in 40 and 38 yards, respectively.
Overall, Wells was the standout performer of the day, as he compiled 135 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. He also added 59 passing yards on the afternoon.
The Pride will look to make it a four-game winning streak in their next contest against Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) at 3:30 p.m. at Stagg Field.
Photo: Springfield College Athletics