KINGS POINT, N.Y. - The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy generated 393 yards of offense Saturday and handed Plymouth State College its first defeat of the season, 28-13, before a Homecoming crowd of 2,616 at Captain Tomb Field.
Senior Pat Corbett rushed for 95 yards and classmate Brandon Floyd added 92 yards and one TD to pace the Mariners' attack.
The loss drops PSC to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the Freedom Football Conference, while Kings Point, the pre-season favorite, improves to 4-1 overall and 3-1 in FFC games. The road gets no easier for Plymouth State, which plays its third straight FFC game on the road next Saturday at Springfield (5-0, 3-0 FFC).
"You've got to give Kings Point credit," said PSC head coach Mike Kemp. "They did a real nice job running the ball, controlling the clock. Defensively they had a couple of miscues, but were able to adjust and play pretty well. Without a doubt, the better team won today."
The first 15 minutes started out like a good old-fashioned shootout, with each team finding the end zone twice in the opening quarter. Kings Point took the ball on the game's first possession and drove 54 yards on 10 plays, with Vince Murry putting the Mariners up 6-0 on a one-yard run and Matt Warren kicking the PAT.
PSC answered with a TD of its own on its first possession. On the second play from scrimmage, Sam Carey (Hooksett, NH) dropped what would have been a 75-yard touchdown bomb from Zach Matthews (Sanford, ME). No matter to the Panthers, though, as they ran the same play on the next snap, this time successfully as Charlie Schubert (Manchester, NH) beat the Mariners defense and hauled in the 75-yard TD bomb from Matthews.
Kings Point put together another scoring drive on the next possession, going 60 yards on eight plays. A wide-open Mark Bromley caught a 25-yard score from QB Jeff Turpen after a PSC defender had fallen down, giving the Mariners a 14-6 advantage just nine minutes into the game.
The Panthers' next drive stalled and PSC was forced to punt, but Kings Point muffed the punt, and PSC's Jason Marcell (Stoughton, MA) recovered at the Mariners' 29 yard line. Five plays later, Matthews hit Matt Botz (West Islip, NY) out of the backfield into the right corner of the end zone, and after a PAT kick by Todd Waldrop (Greenville, RI), who returned after missing two games with mono, PSC trailed 14-13 at the end of the first quarter.
Plymouth State had golden opportunity to take the lead in the second quarter when Brent Bardellini (Milford,MA) beat the KP secondary deep, but couldn't hold on to what would've been a 62-yard TD pass. Kings Point took advantage, regaining possession and driving 77 yards for a second-quarter score. Brandon Floyd carried it in from two yards out, giving Kings Point a 21-13 lead.
"We didn't seem to be able to stop them," said Kemp. "They gave us a couple of big plays also, but we're young, and they're a little more experienced, and they were able to settle down and do what they had to do, and we weren't. If we catch those long passes for touchdowns, maybe it's different, but we're young and taking baby steps. We had the opportunity and didn't capitalize, and that changed the whole complexion of the game."
Another Kings Point fumble on a punt gave PSC excellent field position at the Mariners' 32 late in the second quarter, but the KP defense held, including a stop on PSC's fourth-and-one at the 23.
"I thought that was a big set of downs," said Kings Point head coach Charlie Pravata. "They (Plymouth State) are very good at capitalizing on turnovers, and we know that. We didn't want to turn the ball over. Up until today, we haven't stopped people after our turnovers, so that was a big stop by us, just before the half."
The Panthers had a chance to score on their first possession of the third quarter, but Waldrop came up short on a 47-yard field goal attempt. Kings Point followed with another long scoring drive (13 plays, 70 yards), with Tori Fredericks going over the top on a one-yard leap for a 28-13 Mariners' lead.
The two teams then traded interceptions. Kings Point stopped a PSC drive by picking off Matthews in Mariner territory, but then gave it back on the next play when Jeff Turpen was intercepted by Robb Benjamin (Gloucester, MA).
Plymouth State tried to take advantage, but again the drive stalled and Waldrop missed a 32-yard field goal try just before the end of the third quarter.
With all the offense in the first three quarters, there apparently was nothing left for the fourth period. Neither team was able to generate anything, and the game ended at 28-13.
PSC tailback Jeff Parker (Norwich, NY) had his string of three straight games with two touchdowns and 100-yards rushing stopped, as he finished with 55 yards on 15 carries. The Panthers were able to produce only 212 yards of offense, compared to the 393 for Kings Point.
After a tough game next Saturday at unbeaten Springfield, PSC returns home to host Bentley College in a non-conference game at Currier Field on Oct. 24th.
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