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Norwich Holds Off SLU For Hoffman Cup

The St. Lawrence University football team scored 10 points in the fourth quarter, but the team's comeback attempt fell short, as Norwich won the Hoffman Cup for the first time with a 30-24 victory over the Saints in a non-league game in Norwich, Vermont, on Saturday.

The game featured outstanding performances from both teams' quarterbacks, with St. Lawrence's Tyler Grochot completing 31-of-55 passes for 343 yards and three touchdowns, while Norwich's Matt Dunn was 34-for-49 for 399 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Both Grochot and Dunn were award their team's Most Valuable Player award at the conclusion of the game.

Trailing 30-14 at the start of the fourth quarter, the Saints' offense started to click. On St. Lawrence's first drive of the quarter, William Manory hit his first career field goal — a 36 yard attempt — to cut Norwich's lead to 13 points. Grochot was 6-for-7 passing on the drive, but was sacked on back-to-back plays inside the red zone to back the Saints up to the Norwich 19-yard line and force the field goal attempt.

Michael Guido made a huge play for the Saints' defense on the ensuing Norwich possession, forcing a fumble on a third down play to give St. Lawrence the ball near midfield with less than 10 minutes to play.

The Saints cut the lead to six points with 3:32 left in the game, with Grochot rolling to his right before throwing a high ball into the end zone to Joseph Viscardo, who out-jumped a defender for a 23-yard score and his second touchdown reception of the game.

St. Lawrence had two opportunities to get the ball back, but Dunn hit Tristan Johnson for 27 yards to convert a third-and-10, then later scrambled for a five-yard gain on third-and-two to run out the clock.

Norwich's Manni Romero turn a 10-7 lead into a 23-7 advantage in a span of less than four minutes, returning a punt 70 yards down the right sideline for a touchdown, then catching a 30-yard touchdown pass from Dunn with just over 10 minutes to play in the first half.

Grochot engineered a six-play, 56-yard touchdown drive to cut the lead to nine points, including a 46-yard pass to Andrew Murphy on fourth-and-six to get to the Norwich six-yard line. Two players later, Grochot connected with Bryan Dempsey for a four-yard touchdown pass.

Norwich restored the 16-point lead with just 16 seconds remaining in the half with a six-play, 62-yard touchdown drive that took just 47 seconds. On third-and-16, Dunn found Trevor Chase for a 49-yard pass to get into the red zone. Two plays later, he found Chase in the back right corner of the end zone for a 14-yard strike.

St. Lawrence got on the scoreboard first, as Grochot found Viscardo for a touchdown pass on an 18-yard seam route to cap a three-play, 37-yard drive.

Norwich cut the lead to four points when Clyde Tamburro hit a 37-yard field goal, then took advantage of a short field after a blocked punt, with Connor Bourque's four-yard touchdown run giving the Cadets a 10-7 lead late in the first quarter.

Murphy had his third career 100-yard receiving game, catching eight passes for 120 yards for the Saints. Dempsey had nine receptions for 75 yards, while Viscardo caught four balls for 59 yards. Jamie Battaglia gained 53 yards rushing on 14 attempts for the Saints.

Three Norwich receivers had 100-yard games, with Romero catching eight passes for 129 yards. Chase led all receivers with 12 receptions for 127 yards, and Johnson grabbed eight passes for 107 yards. Aaron Connor led the Cadets' ground game with 66 rushing yards on 19 attempts.

Max Gilbert led the Saints defensively with 10 tackles and an interception in the red zone, which he returned 24 yards. Liam Murray had 12 tackles for St. Lawrence, and Tyler Burns added 11. Ethan Roberts added eight tackles and one sack.

Jonathan Moltimer led the Cadets with nine tackles, while Isaiah Williams had seven stops and one sack. Jacob Burke made seven tackles and also forced and recovered a fumble.

The Saints, who had a five-game winning streak in Hoffman Cup games, with three wins over Merchant Marine from 2014 through 2016 and the last seasons against Norwich, fell to 0-2 on the season, while Norwich improved to 2-0. The Saints will host Morrisville State in their first home game the season of next Friday at 7 p.m. at Leckonby Stadium.

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