CASTLETON, Vt. – The Castleton University football team jumped out to an early lead on Saturday afternoon against Anna Maria, but it wasn't enough as the AMCATS stormed back to knock off the Spartans, 31-24, at Dave Wolk Stadium in Eastern Collegiate Football Conference action.
Moe Harris scored three total touchdowns for the second consecutive week, rushing for 204 yards and two touchdowns while scoring on a 44-yard catch-and-run late in the fourth quarter for Castleton (1-4, 0-1 ECFC). Ryan Barry pulled in seven catches for 96 yards, while Adnane Adossama had three catches for 57 yards for the Spartans. Freshman quarterback Jacob McCarthy ended the contest with a 14-for-31 line. McCarthy accounted for a career-high 259 yards through the air, including three pass plays of 40-plus yards.
Defensively, Seth Gewanter led the way with 12 total stops, while Nick Reca chipped in with 11 stops including five solo tackles. Gewanter also picked off a pass and ran it back 22 yards, to set up a Castleton field goal try late in the opening half. Chris Rice accounted for Castleton's only sack on the day, dropping Anna Maria quarterback Alex Cohen for a 10-yard loss on Rice's fourth sack of the season.
The AMCATS (1-5, 1-1 ECFC) were led by 314 yards through the air from Cohen, including three touchdowns. Cohen added 32 yards on the ground with a short rushing touchdown for Anna Maria's first touchdown of the day. Marcelino Da Veiga pulled in six catches for 79 yards and a touchdown, Hayden Brada went for 76 yards and a touchdown on five catches and Jadan Battle reeled in three grabs for 11 yards and a score. Jalin Hudson led the ground attack for the AMCATS, netting 59 yards on 16 carries.
The Spartans opened the scoring early in the first quarter, as Andy Kenosh knocked a 33-yard field goal through the uprights to put Castleton up 3-0 with just over five minutes into action.
That lead got pushed to 10-0 with 5:05 to play in the opening frame, as Harris took three carries for 44 yards to account for the entire offense on the drive, punctuated by a 13-yard touchdown and a Kenosh extra point.
The Castleton defense forced a quick three-and-out on the ensuing, giving the offense the ball back with 3:29 to go in the first quarter. Harris again took over, rushing for 25 yards on the drive, capping it off with a 17-yard score. Another Kenosh extra point made it 17-0 at the close of the opening 15 minutes in favor of the Spartans.
The second quarter saw Anna Maria get on the board for the first time, as they kicked a 27-yard field goal to cut the Spartans' lead to 17-3 early in the frame. The AMCATS again cut into Castleton's lead just before the half, as Cohen leapt over the line for a two-yard score. Peter Beuttel added the extra point to make it a 17-10 score at the half.
Anna Maria wasted no time tying the game up out of the break, marching 65 yards down the field in 11 plays, capped off by a 33-yard pitch and catch from Cohen to Braga. Both teams traded empty possessions for the remainder of the quarter, heading into the final 15 minutes in a 17-17 deadlock.
The AMCATS took the lead for the first time in the game with just more than nine minutes to play in regulation, as Cohen connected with Battle for an 11 yard touchdown to cap off an 11-play, 85-yard drive before Beuttel added the extra point to make it 24-17 in favor of the visitors.
Castleton did not go easily into the night, taking just two plays to cover 48 yards as McCarthy found Harris on a screen play that resulted in a 44-yard score. Kenosh nailed the extra point to knot the game at 24-24, but Anna Maria answered in short order on the ensuing drive.
After returning the kickoff to the 40-yard line to give them prime field position, the AMCATS drove the ball 60 yards in just three plays and 1:07. Cohen opened the drive with a 19-yard strike to Da Veiga before connecting with Antonio Snell for nine yards. One play later, Cohen found Da Veiga for a 32-yard score to give Anna Maria the lead once more.
With 1:18 remaining on the clock, the Spartans looked to drive down the field and level the game. McCarthy opened the drive with three consecutive completions, moving the ball into Anna Maria territory. On first-and-10 from the 30-yard line, McCarthy looked to the end zone towards Adossama, but Adossama was flagged for offensive pass interference, pushing Castleton back to the 45-yard line with a first-and-25 to go.
Following an incompletion, the Spartans were flagged once more, this time for holding, pushing the ball back into Castleton territory and making it second-and-35. On third down, McCarthy found Barry for 17 yards to cut the distance to a first down in half. Facing a fourth-and-long, McCarthy once again looked deep to Adossama who came down with the ball, but he was with just inches short of the first down marker for a turnover on downs as the AMCATS sealed their first win of the season.
Anna Maria registered 24 first downs to Castleton's 18, though Castleton outgained the AMCATS, 475 yards to 445, including a 216-131 edge in rushing yardage. Anna Maria converted 8-of-18 third-down opportunities on the day, while Castleton cashed in on just 6-of-16 third downs.
The Spartans return to the gridiron next Saturday, October 13, when they travel south to take on Gallaudet in ECFC action. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.