Cadets use second-half surge to top Coast Guard 24-21 and take second straight ‘Little Army-Navy Game’

Late-game lightning, it seems, can strike twice in “Little Army-Navy” Games. For the second-straight meeting, Norwich University used a second-half burst to keep the Mug in its football game against the U.S. Coast Guard Academy on Saturday. 

Norwich scored 21 points to survive a seesaw second half with four lead changes and top Coast Guard 24-21 in their New England Women’s and Men’s Athletic Conference opener. That gave Norwich two straight Mugs, the trophies awarded to the “Little Army-Navy Game” winner. (Norwich won three straight Mugs from 2002 to 2004.)

On Saturday in New London, Connecticut, Norwich (2-3, 1-0 in conference) started the second half explosively. Quarterback Mitchell Theal threw to Trevor Chase for a 78-yard touchdown on the opening play. The Cadets led 10-7. 

Norwich scored 21 points to survive a seesaw second half with four lead changes.

Coast Guard answered with an 84-yard rush by Jared Colletti to retake the lead, 14-10, but Cadets defensive back Jeremy Henault intercepted a pass from Coast Guard’s Tafari Wall to spark another lead shift. (Henault intercepted two passes in the game.)

A 5-yard touchdown pass from Theal to Chase capped a nine-play, 63-yard drive to put Norwich up 17-14 and cap the third-quarter scoring.

Mug game 2021 4
Norwich University linebacker Francisco Colon hugs President Dr. Mark Anarumo after Saturday’s “Little Army-Navy Game” win over the U.S. Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut. (Photo by Nicholas Gendreau/Norwich University Athletics.)

In the fourth quarter, the Bears (2-3, 0-1 in conference) retook the lead, 21-17, as Wall finished five-play, 43-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown rush. But Norwich erased that deficit, too. 

Running back Justin Bryant capped an 11-play, 74-yard drive with a 1-yard run to give the Cadets the decisive margin. Bryant ran for 125 yards on 33 carries and fellow running back Nate Parady gained 94 yards on 20 carries to lead Norwich’s rushers.

Theal threw for 274 yards, completing 16 of 33 passes. Chase (eight catches, 155 yards) and Haleola Thomas (four catches, 107 yards) both topped 100 yards receiving. 

Zach Buchy kicked a 30-yard field goal and three points after to add to Norwich’s offense.

On defense, Norwich forced three turnovers and limited Coast Guard to 85 yards passing. Henault complemented his interceptions with five tackles. Linebackers Noah Knight and Zev Motew had four tackles each for the Cadets.

Meanwhile, Colletti had 20 carries for a career-high 195 yards to lead Coast Guard’s offense; Ethan Lasher intercepted two passes, returning one for an 80-yard touchdown for Coast Guard’s defense. 

Norwich returns home to Sabine Field at Haynes Family Stadium on Saturday to play for Family Weekend.

(Video by Norwich University Athletics)

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