GAME #5: U.S. Merchant Marine Academy (2-2, 2-0 FFC) at Plymouth State College (2-1, 1-0 FFC) Sat., Oct. 6, 2001, 12:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H.
PLYMOUTH, N.H. - After two consecutive road games, the Plymouth State College football team returns to Currier Field this Saturday for a Freedom Football Conference encounter against the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, from Kings Point, N.Y.
The Panthers and Mariners will kick off at 12 noon at Currier Field. PSC is looking to rebound from a tough loss last Saturday at Western Connecticut, while Kings Point, which is playing on the road for only the second time in five games, is atop the FFC standings at 2-0. The game, which matches teams picked third (PSC) and fifth (KP) in the FFC pre-season poll, is crucial for both schools as they challenge for the 2001 conference championship.
Plymouth State leads the FFC in total offense with more than 372 yards per game, but turnovers have cost PSC, leaving the Panthers at the .500 mark after four games. Ranked eighth in the ECAC New England Division III poll, the Panthers won their FFC opener at Norwich two weeks ago with a solid 21-0 whitewash of the Cadets, but dropped a 33-17 decision last Saturday at Western Connecticut, the No. 1 ranked team in New England. PSC registered a pair of second-half touchdowns to pull to within five points of WCSU, but the Colonials hit paydirt on the next play on a 73-yard pass play to take the wind out of the Panther sails.
Kings Point is also at the .500 mark after four games, but the Mariners have won both of their Freedom Conference games and are the only school at 2-0 in the FFC. They shut out Norwich in their FFC opener, 37-0, and after a non-conference loss to The College of New Jersey, the Mariners overcame a 21-0 deficit last Saturday to pull out a 35-31 triumph over WPI.
This will be the seventh meeting between Plymouth State and Kings Point, with the series tied at three games apiece. PSC won the first encounter in 1994 in the memorable NCAA Tournament play-off game at Currier Field, and the schools have alternated home victories since they began facing each other in the regular season in 1996. The Mariners took last year's game in New York, 25-19, and PSC won the last time they played in Plymouth, 49-27 in 1999.
NEW ENGLAND POLL: Western Connecticut (3-0) continues to hold down the top spot in this week's ECAC New England Division III poll, although this week they share the No. 1 position with Worcester State (5-0), with the two schools splitting the 12 first-place votes. Unbeatens Amherst (2-0), Westfield State (4-0), and Williams (2-0) round out the top five. UMass Dartmouth (3-1) is sixth, followed by Tufts (2-0), Plymouth State (2-2), Curry (4-1), Salve Regina (3-1) and Springfield (1-2). Also receiving votes were Nichols and Colby.
FFC LEADERS: Several Panthers are ranked among the FFC statistical leaders. Senior TE John Walters is ranked second in both receptions (6.50/game) and receiving yards (89.5/game), and senior RB Russ Massahos is third in rushing (78.0 yards/game). Senior LB Chris Kelliher is tied for second with two interceptions and eighth with 8.2 tackles per game. Senior P Bob Maylone is third in the league in punting average (38.7), and graduate student Mike Bardellini is third in punt return average (13.9).
WEEKLY FFC HONORS: PSC had one player honored this week by the FFC. Senior safety Mike Pelletier was on the FFC Defensive Honor Roll after being a part of 19 tackles at Western Conn. He made eight solo tackles and assisted on 11 others, including one for minus yardage, and he broke up three passes.
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)
Oct. 1 DB Mike Pelletier (FFC Honor Roll)
MILESTONES: PSC running back Russ Massahos (Windham, N.H.) has moved into second place on the PSC career rushing list, and continues to move up on the New England Division III career rushing chart. Massahos, who is second in rushing among active Division III players in New England, enters the Kings Point game with 2,676 yards, 30th on the all-time list. There are 21 players in Division III New England history that have rushed for 3,000 yards in their careers.
PSC AT CURRIER FIELD: PSC has had plenty of success over the years at Currier Field, capturing more than three-quarters of the contests. Plymouth State now has an all-time home record of 115-37-3 for a .752 winning percentage. The Panthers are 33-11 (.750) at home the last nine years, and they were 38-13-1 (.740) in the ‘90s.
A LOOK AHEAD: Plymouth State remains at Currier Field next Saturday for its Homecoming contest against tough FFC foe Springfield College. The Pride are defending NCAA quarterfinalists and pre-season FFC favorites. Kings Point plays a non-conference contest at Case Western Reserve in Ohio next Saturday, but has a home game against Western Connecticut and a visit to Springfield the following two weeks.