GAME #4: Plymouth State College (2-1, 1-0) at Western Connecticut State University (2-0, 0-0) Sat., Sept. 29, 2001, 1:00 p.m., Midtown Campus Field, Danbury, Conn.
PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Both teams will be looking to make a statement in the Freedom Football Conference race Saturday when Plymouth State College visits Western Connecticut State University in Danbury, Conn.
The Panthers and Colonials will kick off at 1:00 p.m. at Midtown Campus Field in a battle of the teams picked second (WCSU) and third (PSC) in the FFC pre-season poll. Western Conn., which will be playing its conference opener, is off to a 2-0 start and is ranked No. 1 in the ECAC New England Division III poll, while PSC is 2-1 overall, 1-0 conference play, and ranked fifth in New England.
Plymouth State posted its second straight victory last Saturday in its FFC opener, blanking Norwich University, 21-0, on the road. The Panthers limited Norwich to 171 yards of total offense in posting their first shutout of the season.
Western Connecticut, which finished 10-1 overall last year and registered a dominating victory in the ECAC Northeast Championship game, has won its first two non-conference games over Mount Ida (43-0) and William Patterson (22-10).
The Colonials have won two straight over the Panthers after a streak of 16 consecutive PSC victories. In fact, Plymouth State won 21 of the first 22 meetings through 1998. Western broke the streak in 1999 en route to the FFC title with a 12-9 victory in Plymouth on a last-second field goal, then pounded PSC last season in Danbury, 56-7.
The Panthers are playing at WCSU for the second year in a row to balance the schedule, and avoid continuing to play three straight FFC home games one year and three consecutive FFC road games the following year. The two schools agreed to switch this year's game, and next year's contest will be in Plymouth.
Plymouth State has displayed the conference's leading offensive unit, averaging 391 yards per game, including a league-leading 240 yards through the air. The Panther defense has been strong with veteran leadership, and the special teams have made key scoring plays in both PSC victories this season.
WEEKLY FFC HONORS: PSC had two individuals honored by the FFC and the ECAC for their performances at Norwich. Bobby Maylone was the FFC Special Teams Player of the Week and ECAC Defensive Player of the Week. He recovered a blocked punt for a touchdown, and averaged 41 yards on seven punts, including three boots inside the Norwich 20 yard line. He also made seven tackles on defense. Chris Kelliher was on the FFC Honor Roll after a 7-tackle, 1-pass breakup and 1-interception performance.
2001 PSC WEEKLY HONORS:
Sept. 10 TE John Walters (FFC Off. Co-Player/Week)
Sept. 17 RB Russ Massahos (FFC Off. Player/Week, ECAC Honor Roll), PR Mike Bardellini (FFC Special Teams Player/Week, ECAC Honor Roll), LB Brian Chaplain (FFC Honor Roll)
Sept. 24 P/DB Bobby Maylone (FFC Special Teams Player/Week, ECAC Def. Player/Week) LB Chris Kelliher (FFC Honor Roll)
MILESTONES: PSC running back Russ Massahos (Windham, N.H.) has moved into second place on the PSC career rushing list. After reaching third place in the UMD game, Massahos passed Shawn Redburn (2,583 yards from 1994-96) for the No. 2 position against Norwich, and he enters the WCSU game with 2,603 yards. Massahos has virtually no chance of catching all-time PSC leading rusher Joe Dudek, who finished with 5,291 rushing yards from 1982-85.
NEW ENGLAND POLL: FFC member Western Connecticut (2-0) holds down the top spot in this week's ECAC New England Division III poll. Worcester State (4-0), Amherst (1-0), and Curry (4-0) are in the 2-3-4 positions, same as last week. PSC (2-1) is now fifth, ahead of Salve Regina (3-0), Westfield State (3-0), UMass Dartmouth (2-1), Williams (1-0) and Middlebury (1-0). Also receiving votes were Springfield, Tufts and Trinity.
RECORD-SETTER: Senior tight end John Walters (Wells, Maine) set a Panther single-game record against RPI with 12 receptions, amassing 180 yards. That performance broke the old mark off 11, set by Scott Anson in 1982 against Massachusetts Maritime.
FFC PRE-SEASON POLL: Springfield, the defending conference champion, was picked to repeat its title in the annual FFC pre-season coaches poll, receiving four of seven first-place votes. Western Connecticut got the other three top votes and was picked second, followed by PSC in third, Norwich in fourth, Kings Point fifth, WPI sixth, and Coast Guard seventh.
ALL-TIME SUCCESS: The Panthers entered the 2001 season as the winningest Division III football program in the NCAA with at least 25 years on the gridiron. PSC has an all-time winning percentage of .696 with an overall record of 206-88-7, just ahead of Wisconsin-Lacrosse, which has a .695 winning percentage in 76 years of football (470-195-40).
A LOOK AHEAD: After playing its first two conference games on the road, PSC returns to Currier Field the next two Saturdays, hosting FFC contenders Kings Point on Oct. 6th and Springfield on Oct. 13th.