DANBURY, Conn. - Defending Freedom Football Conference champion Western Connecticut State University made up for many years of frustration Saturday by handing Plymouth State College the worst loss in its 31-year history, 56-7, at Midtown Campus Field.
The Colonials, who won their 17th consecutive regular season game, improve to 5-0 overall and 1-0 in the FFC. The Panthers drop to the .500 mark at 2-2 and 1-1.
Western Connecticut needed a field goal on the final play of the game in 1999 to defeat PSC and snap a 16-game losing skid to the Panthers. This year, the Colonials took the lead midway through the first quarter and never looked back, capturing their second straight over PSC and just the third victory in 24 career meetings.
The 49-point loss was the largest margin of defeat ever for PSC, worse than the 40-7 setback at Springfield in 1998. The 56 points surrendered with the most ever, eclipsing the 51 allowed at home to Springfield last year.
"Western is a very, very good team, and they showed that today," said PSC head coach Chris Rorke about a Western team that is ranked 12th in the nation in Division III. "It basically came down to physical match-ups, and their defensive front outplayed us. Because of injuries, we were down to one normal starting offensive lineman, and we made mistakes because we had to go with younger players."
Plymouth State actually led 7-0 less than two minutes into the contest, scoring on the opening possession of the game. Sophomore QB Matt Simpson (Auburn, Maine) hit classmate Phil Pagan (Nashua, NH) on a 29-yard pass play down the left sideline.
It was all WCSU the rest of the way, and Colonials scored three touchdowns in the opening stanza to take a 21-7 advantage. Freshman Damion Sumpter (East Norwalk, Conn.) recovered a blocked punt in the end zone to tie the game at 7-7, senior Corey Enman (Manchester, NH) scored on a 12 yard reception and Aaron Russell (Altmonte Springs, FL) was on the receiving end of a 12-yard TD play.
"The blocked punt didn't help us," said Rorke, "and it turned the momentum around in a hurry."
WCSU quarterback Matt LeFever (Ocean City, NJ) tossed his third TD pass in the third quarter to Chris Bennett (Norwalk, Conn.) from 42 yards out to make it 28-7. The Warriors added two more rushing touchdowns in both the third and fourth quarters, one each by Ben LaBelle (Killingly, Conn.), Chris McPhail (Brooklyn, NY), Cecil Snowden (Tolland, Conn.) and Ray Estwick (Bronx, N.Y.).
"Basically we're playing like a young team," said Rorke, "because we are a young team due to injuries. The game went from a decent game to a rout, because our defense tried to make plays, and got beat."
Plymouth State makes another road trip next Saturday, facing the Merchant Marine Academy in Kings Point, N.Y., in an FFC battle at 2 p.m.