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PSC travels to non-conference Bentley

GAME #7: Plymouth State College (4-2) at Bentley College (5-2) Sat., Oct. 20, 2001, 2:00 p.m., Bentley Field, Waltham, Mass.

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - It will be a non-conference affair this Saturday when Plymouth State College travels to Waltham, Mass., to face Bentley College in a small college football game.

The Panthers and Falcons will kick off at 2:00 p.m. Saturday, the centerpiece of Homecoming activities at Bentley Field. PSC has won four of its last five games to improve to 4-2 overall and has begun entertaining post-season thoughts. Bentley is having a strong season at 5-2, and is playing its first game outside the Northeast-10 Conference.

Plymouth State picked up its second straight impressive Freedom Conference victory last Saturday, holding off Springfield 9-7 at Currier Field. The Panthers are alone in second place in the FFC at 3-1, a game behind unbeaten Western Connecticut (5-0, 3-0). PSC is also tied for seventh in the ECAC New England Division III poll.

Bentley had a four-game winning streak stopped last Saturday with a dramatic 38-37 overtime loss at Pace University. The Falcons, who played in the Eastern Football Conference the past four years, are now playing in the Northeast-10, a conference that began sponsoring football this season. Bentley is coached by Peter Yetten, a 23-year veteran at the school.

This will be the fourth game in the career series between PSC and Bentley, and strangely, the home team has yet to win. The Panthers won 17-12 at Bentley Field in 1999, and the Falcons won 30-19 in 1998 and 27-23 last year at PSC's Currier Field.

PSC features an offense that is averaging 353 yards a game, balancing the rushing of senior Russ Massahos (Windham, N.H.) and the passing of junior Matt Simpson (Auburn, Maine). Massahos has logged 533 yards (4.3 avg.) and seven touchdowns. Simpson's favorite target is the top tight end in the FFC, senior John Walters (Wells, Maine), who has 31 catches for 440 yards.

The Panther defense is a veteran unit that starts seven seniors. LB Chris Kelliher (Goffstown, N.H.), DB Mike Pelletier (Concord, N.H.) and DB Bobby Maylone (Manchester, N.H.) are the leading tacklers, and LB Brian Chaplain (Hooksett, N.H.) and LB Jim Stacy (Branford, Conn.) have five sacks apiece to help PSC lead the conference in sacks.

FFC PICTURE: Western Connecticut (5-0, 3-0) remains the only unbeaten team in the Freedom Conference, with conference wins over Springfield, Plymouth State and Kings Point. The Colonials, who were picked to finish second in the pre-season poll, are looking for their second FFC title in three years. PSC (3-1), Kings Point (2-1) and WPI (1-1) each has one conference loss, and Coast Guard (1-2), Springfield (1-2) and Norwich (0-4) are all sub-.500.

NEW ENGLAND POLL: Worcester State (7-0) has taken over the top spot in the ECAC New England Division III poll, with eight first-place votes, while Western Connecticut (5-0) received the other four top votes and is ranked second. Unbeatens Westfield State (6-0), Amherst (4-0), Williams (4-0) and Tufts (4-0) take up the next four spots. Plymouth State (4-2) and Curry (6-1) are tied for seventh, followed Nichols (4-2), and UMass Dartmouth (4-2). Also receiving votes was Wesleyan.

MILESTONES: PSC RB Russ Massahos is closing in on the 3,000-yard career rushing milestone, which would make him the 22nd Division III back in New England history to attain the mark. He enters the Bentley game with 2,897 yards, 2nd on PSC's career charts and 25th on the all-time New England Division III list. He trails only Joe Dudek (5,291 yards from 1982-85) on PSC's career list.

FFC LEADERS: Several Panthers are ranked among the FFC statistical leaders. Senior TE John Walters is ranked second in both receptions (5.2/game) and receiving yards (73.3/game), and senior RB Russ Massahos is second in both scoring (7.0 point/game) and rushing (89.3 yards/game). Senior LB Chris Kelliher is the FFC leader in tackles (10.7 per game) and senior LB Brian Chaplain in the sack leader with 5.5. Senior P Bob Maylone is second in the league in punting average (38.2), 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. Mike Pelletier was the Defensive Player of the Week and Bobby Maylone was on the special teams honor roll. Pelletier earned the FFC's top weekly honor for the third time in his career, and Maylone was honored roll for the fourth time. Pelletier was also named ECAC Northeast Defensive Player of the Week.

A LOOK AHEAD: Plymouth State returns to FFC action next Saturday with a match-up against the Coast Guard Academy at Currier Field. It is the final regular season home game for PSC, and the Panther seniors will be honored prior to the game. Plymouth State then wraps up the regular season with road games the first two Saturdays in November at Mount Ida and WPI.