GAME #9: Plymouth State College (6-2, FFC 4-1) at Curry College (0-8, ECFC 0-4)
Sat., Nov. 8, 1997, 12:00 p.m., Forbes Will Field, Milton, MA
PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The final two games of the regular season will be on the road for the Plymouth State College football team, beginning this Saturday in a non-conference outing at Curry College. The Panthers and Colonels will kick off Saturday at 12 noon at Forbes Will Field in Milton, Mass., just outside Boston. PSC will be looking to get back on the winning track after a disappointing loss last Saturday to Coast Guard, while Curry is hoping for its first win of the season.
Plymouth State's hopes for an NCAA post-season bid were all but dashed in the setback to Coast Guard. At 6-2 overall under second-year head coach Mike Kemp, PSC still hopes for an ECAC play-off berth, but would need wins in the final two games against Curry and WPI. The Panthers dropped from first to third in this week's ECAC New England Division III poll.
A share of the Freedom Football Conference championship is also still possible for PSC, but the Panthers, at 4-1 in conference games, would need some help.
Although the final score was 19-0 in favor of Coast Guard, it might as well have been 8-0. That was the turnover count, with the Bears not turning the football over all day and Plymouth State throwing four interceptions and losing four fumbles.
Curry is having problems of its own. The Colonels have struggled through a winless campaign under first- year coach Ron Zangari, going 0-8 overall and 0-4 in the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference. Curry was 3-7 last season and 1-7 in the ECFC. The Colonels were handed a 52-12 home defeat by Salve Regina last Saturday.
"We're competitive, and we love this game, and we'll show up and play hard on Saturday," said Kemp. "We were devastated with the results of last Saturday's game, but we've got to put that behind us. I told the guys we're still a good football team, and we've got to go out and prove it Saturday."
Plymouth State and Curry haven't met since 1991, but faced each other every year from 1971-91 when the two schools were in the New England Football Conference. Curry won six of the first seven games of the series, but PSC dominated the last 14, including consecutive 58-0 verdicts in the last two encounters in '90 and '91.
LAST WEEK: Senior linebacker Rocky Criscone and sophomore wide receiver Charlie Schubert were the highlights for Plymouth State against Coast Guard, and both were named to the FFC Weekly Honor Roll. Criscone and fellow linebacker Dave Gibson anchored a defense that limited the Bears to just 260 yards, as Criscone made 10 tackles (seven unassisted) and one pass break-up. He made three tackles in the Coast Guard backfield, including a big one on fourth-down-and-one at the PSC 19-yard line with CG leading in the second quarter. Schubert reached career highs in both receptions (10) and receiving yards (111), the highest individual totals for PSC this season, and returned a kick-off 23 yards. The Panthers actually had more first downs (18-11) than the Bears, outgained them in total offense (287-260), and had over 100 yards more on kick-off and punt returns (139-20), but were done in by the eight turnovers. Senior running back Jose Raymond had his streak of consecutive games with at least one touchdown stopped at seven games.
TOP NOTCH DEFENSE: The Panther defense leads the FFC in three of the four defensive categories - scoring (12.0 pts/gm), rushing (93.1 yds/gm), and total defense (233.4 yds/gm). In last week's NCAA Division III statistics, PSC was 10th in total defense and scoring defense, 16th in passing efficiency defense, and 29th in rushing defense. Not to be outdone, the offensive unit is second in the conference in total offense (352.1 yds/gm), and last week was 29th in Division III in scoring offense (34.0 ppg).
AMONG THE FFC LEADERS: PSC is prominent among individual leaders of the FFC. CB Marc Turcotte has the conference lead with six interceptions, QB Josh Norse is third in passing (110.8 rating) and first in total offense (195.1 yds/gm), which includes passing and rushing, and TB Jose Raymond is second in the league in rushing (82.8 yds/gm) and fourth in scoring (6.0 pts/gm). PK Paul D'Ascoli (career 23-41 FG, 100-110 PAT) is the FFC's third-highest scoring kicker (4.4 pts/gm), WR/KR Brent Bardellini appears among the FFC leaders in punt returns, kick returns, receiving yards, and all-purpose yards, and WR Charlie Schubert on the list of top FFC receivers in both receptions (3.25/gm) and receiving yards (45.5/gm).
HEAD COACH MIKE KEMP: Plymouth State is in Year Two under head coach Mike Kemp. A 1975 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Kemp joined the PSC staff in '96. It is his first head coaching position after serving as an assistant coach at several schools, most recently Cortland State. Kemp has guided PSC to an 11-6 record in his first two seasons.
PSC'S WEEKLY HONORS: Plymouth State is a regular name when it comes to weekly conference and regional honors. Here is a list of PSC's weekly honorees: Sept. 14 -- Josh Norse, ECAC, FFC Honor Rolls; Brent Bardellini, FB Gazette (National), FFC Special Teams Player of the Week; John McLaughlin, FFC Honor Roll; Sept. 21 -- Dave Gibson, FFC Honor Roll; Jose Raymond, FFC Honor Roll; Sept. 28 -- Josh Norse, ECAC, FFC Honor Roll; Dave Gibson, FFC Honor Roll; Matt Botz, FFC Honor Roll; Oct. 5 -- Paul D'Ascoli, ECAC Honor Roll, FFC Special Teams Player of the Week; Jose Raymond, FFC Rookie of the Week; Rocky Criscone, FFC Honor Roll; Oct. 12 - Dave Gibson, ECAC Honor Roll, FFC Defensive Player of the Week; Jose Raymond, FFC Honor Roll; Oct. 19 - Josh Norse, FFC Offensive Player of the Week; Dave Gibson, Jose Raymond, FFC Honor Roll; Oct. 26 - Kevin Hebert, ECAC/Budget New England Regional Defensive Player of the Week and FFC Co-Defensive Player of the Week; Jose Raymond, FFC Co-Rookie of the Week, ECAC Honor Roll; Nov. 2 - Rocky Criscone, FFC Honor Roll, Charlie Schubert, FFC Honor Roll.
PSC AT CURRIER FIELD: Plymouth State suffered a rare defeat last week at Currier Field, named after former PSC football coach Charles Currier. PSC has an all-time 103-31-3 overall home record for a .763 winning percentage. The Panthers are 4-1 this season at Currier Field, 7-2 under Mike Kemp (.778), 21-5 the last four years (.808), and 30-10-1 in the ‘90s (.753).
PANTHER FB HISTORY: Plymouth State entered 1997, its 28th season as a varsity program, as the winningest Division III college football program in the nation with an all-time winning percentage of .707 (W-179, L-72, T-7). Wisconsin-Lacrosse is second (.698 in 72 years), followed by St. Johns, MN (.678 in 86 years), Ithaca (.647 in 64 years), and Wittenberg (.639 in 103 years).
ON THE AIR: Plymouth State had three games televised this season. WMUR-TV, the ABC affiliate from Manchester, NH, broadcasted the opener against Maine Maritime on Sept. 13th, and the Homecoming match-up against Springfield on Oct. 18th. The Oct. 4th contest at Currier Field against Western Connecticut was the ECAC Game of the Week, and was broadcast tape-delay on the New England Sports Network (NESN).
A LOOK AHEAD: Plymouth State wraps up the regular season at conference foe WPI next Saturday (Nov. 15th) in Worcester, Mass. (1:00 p.m.), still with an outside chance of sharing part of the FFC title. The 16 NCAA Championship bids will be announced Sunday, Nov. 16th, and the four ECAC Championship berths on Monday, Nov. 17th.
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