GAME #6: Springfield College (1-3, 1-1 FFC) at Plymouth State College (3-2, 2-1 FFC) Sat., Oct. 13, 2001, 12:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H.
PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Both schools will need a victory to stay in the Freedom Football Conference race when Plymouth State College hosts Springfield College Saturday in the Homecoming affair at Currier Field.
The Panthers and Pride will kick off at 12 noon in an important FFC contest, as both schools have one conference loss. PSC, 3-2 overall, is 2-1 in conference play after last Saturday's 21-14 victory at home over Kings Point. Springfield is 1-3 overall and fell to 1-1 in the conference last Saturday with a 13-7 setback at Western Connecticut.
PSC goes into the game ranked seventh in the ECAC New England Division III poll, and continues to lead the FFC in total offense with 365 yards per game. Senior RB Russ Massahos (Windham, N.H.) rushed for three touchdowns against Kings Point and gained 189 all-purpose yards, 145 on the ground and 44 through the air. Senior LB Chris Kelliher (Goffstown, N.H.), with 13 tackles, and senior DB Bobby Maylone (Manchester, NH/Central), with 10 tackles, two pass break-ups, and two fumble recoveries, led the Panther defensive effort. PSC added three sacks to improve its FFC-leading total to 19.
The Pride advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals last season after winning the FFC championship and finishing unbeaten in the regular season, but has only one win so far this season. The pre-season FFC favorite, SC lost non-conference games to UMass Dartmouth and Ithaca, and split its FFC games against Coast Guard and Western Connecticut. Springfield suffered its first FFC loss in two years last Saturday with the setback at Western Conn. The Pride led the nation in rushing last season with 427.5 yards/game, but has used four different starting quarterbacks and is averaging just 214.3 yards this year.
This is the seventh meeting in football between Plymouth State and Springfield, with the Pride holding a 4-2 series lead. PSC won two of the first three (1995, 1997), but Springfield has countered with victories in the last three meetings by a combined score of 133-66. The Pride captured last year's contest in Springfield, 42-26, as well as the last game in Plymouth, 51-33 in 1999.
GOLD HELMET: For the second time in his career, Panther RB Russ Massahos won the weekly Gold Helmet Award, given out Wednesday at a luncheon in Boston by the New England Football Writers. Massahos won the award after piling up 189 all-purpose yards and three TDs against Kings Point. He rushed for 145 yards and all three scores, and was PSC's leading receiver with three catches for 44 yards. Massahos won the award in 1999 after scoring six touchdowns against Coast Guard.
FFC PICTURE: It's still early, but Western Connecticut (4-0, 2-0) appears in the driver's seat in the Freedom Conference race after beating both Springfield and Plymouth State. The Colonials, who were picked to finish second in the pre-season poll, are the only unbeaten team left in the conference, while five other schools have only one loss.
NEW ENGLAND POLL: Worcester State (6-0) has taken over the top spot in the ECAC New England Division III poll, with six first-place votes, while Western Connecticut (4-0) received the other four top votes and is ranked second. Unbeatens Amherst (3-0), Westfield State (5-0), Williams (3-0) and Tufts (3-0) take up the next four spots. Plymouth State (3-2) is seventh, followed by Curry (5-1), Nichols (3-2), and Salve Regina (3-1). Also receiving votes were Springfield and Wesleyan.
FFC LEADERS: Several Panthers are ranked among the FFC statistical leaders. Senior TE John Walters is ranked second in both receptions (5.6/game) and receiving yards (78.6/game), and senior RB Russ Massahos is the leader in scoring (7 TDs) and second in rushing (91.4 yards/game). Senior LB Chris Kelliher is tied for third with 9.2 tackles per game. Senior P Bob Maylone is third in the league in punting average (37.3), and graduate student Mike Bardellini is third in punt return average (10.6).
WEEKLY FFC HONORS: PSC had two players honored this week by the FFC. Russ Massahos was the Offensive Player of the Week and Bobby Maylone was on the defensive honor roll. Massahos was also on the ECAC Division III Northeast honor roll.
MILESTONES: Russ Massahos 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 among active Division III players in New England, enters the Springfield game with 2,821 yards, 26th 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 116-37-3 for a .753 winning percentage. The Panthers are 34-11 (.756) at home the last nine years, and they were 38-13-1 (.740) in the ‘90s.
A LOOK AHEAD: Plymouth State takes a break from the FFC next week with a non-conference encounter at Bentley College. The Panther return home in two weeks for the home finale against Coast Guard before wrapping up the regular season with road games at Mount Ida and WPI. Springfield opens a three-game homestand next week, hosting WPI, Kings Point and Norwich on the next three Saturdays before closing the regular season at Union.