CU loses the Sap Bucket again

Wyatt Jackson lines up the slot at the receiver to make a play on offense.

Barbeques in the parking lots. Hot dogs and burgers on the grills. Fans in the parking lots early morning, and 4,056 fans in attendance.

All for one reason.

Homecoming football.

“It’s cool to see the atmosphere of homecoming weekend. It brings everyone together to watch the Spartans. It also helped that it was a big rivalry game. Anytime the Spartans have a chance to beat Norwich, I think you have to watch. Being an AT (athletic training) student that works with the football team, I see how much that game matters and the energy the guys have for the game,” said senior Justin Stairs.

Despite the hype, the Spartans would fall to the Norwich Cadets by a score of 28-14, to move to 2-1 on the season. The game also marked the Battle for the Maple Sap Bucket, a game against Norwich that happens annually.

While the Castleton defense put up a valiant effort to keep the game close, it wasn’t enough for the Spartans. The defense racked up six sacks throughout the game, forced a fumble and had an interception.

To start the game, Norwich came out flying with a 15-play 77-yard drive that ate up eight minutes of the clock. While possession time was very even the Cadets only had one drive during the quarter to the Spartans two.

Going into halftime at 7-7, the Spartans had momentum for the second half after Evan Smith connected with Jackson Brand for a 24-yard touchdown with three minutes remaining in the half to tie it up.

The Castleton defense followed it up with an interception right before halftime from Tyler Buxton.

The second half started off all Norwich, however, with the Cadets pushing the lead to 21-7. But the start of the fourth quarter saw the Spartans march down the field with authority and Devin Wollner punched his way into the end zone to cut the lead to 21-14. The Spartans defense kept pushing with Kevin McDonough forcing a fumble and recovering it three drives later to keep the Spartans in the game.

It came down to a play with three minutes left and the ball on the Castleton 27-yard line with a fourth down and five yards to gain. Smith threw an interception that was be taken back for six, putting the Cadets up 28-14 and that is where the game would stay until the final whistle.

Although the game didn’t go the Spartans way, all 4,056 fans were into it the whole way. From alumni to current student or parents, the crowd didn’t miss a beat.

“Unfortunate outcome of the game, but it was great to be back and watch my former teammates take the field in a huge game like that. It was different not being on the field and watching as a fan, but it was great to be able to watch and enjoy time with people I met over my Castleton career,” said Castleton 2023 graduate and former football player, Tucker Gaudette.

Despite the loss, two of the Spartans received Player of the Week honors this week. Kevin McDonough received ECFC Defensive Player of the Week for the second consecutive week and Tyler Buxton received ECFC Rookie of the Week for the third consecutive week.

“Honestly, I couldn’t care less about the accolades. It’s always nice to get recognition but that’s not what I strive for. I go into each week with the goal of doing my part to get the win,” said McDonough, a junior linebacker.

Fans packed into the bleachers as the team takes in the atmosphere.

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