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PSC drops opener at UMass Dartmouth

DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Junior quarterback John Falcone (Norwood, Mass.) rushed for three touchdowns and passed for another Friday night, leading the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth to a 44-14 victory over Plymouth State College in a non-conference football game at Bishop Stang High School's Carney Stadium.

Falcone completed 17-of-29 passes for 196 yards and one touchdown, while running 18 times for 54 yards and the three TDs. Junior running back Shawn Theriault (Wakefield, Mass.) added 79 yards and one touchdown on 16 carries, helping UMD defeat Plymouth State for the first time in four career meetings.

The Corsairs (2-0) took advantage of PSC mistakes, turning three of the seven Panther turnovers into 17 points on the scoreboard. UMD capitalized on two turnovers and a short punt to take a 17-0 lead early in the first quarter, extended the margin to 29-6 by halftime and put the game away with a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns.

"They were a very good offensive team," said PSC head coach Chris Rorke. "We looked like a team playing in its first game. They were clicking on all cylinders and we were searching for some consistency. I think we have a better team than we showed tonight."

UMass Dartmouth scored on its first five possessions. Theriault and Falcone had TD runs and senior Brian West (Raynham, Mass.) kicked a 39-yard field goal and UMD was up 17-0 just eight minutes into the game. PSC finally got into Corsair territory and into the endzone with a minute remaining in the opening quarter on senior Chris Holton's (Bellows Falls, VT) five-yard TD catch from senior Matt Simpson (Auburn, Maine), capping a 13-play Panther drive.

The hosts tacked on two more touchdowns in the second quarter, a 44-yard run by senior Joe Sabina (Taunton, Mass.) and a six-yard run by Falcone, to take a 29-6 lead into the locker room. UMD also had a 257-114 advantage in total yards in the first 30 minutes.

Plymouth State tried to make a game of it in the third quarter. After stopping UMD on the opening drive, PSC came down and junior quarterback Ryan Diamond (Plymouth, N.H.) finished off a 64-yard drive with a four-yard TD run, giving the Panthers a little momentum and cutting the deficit to 29-14.

"We actually did some good things on offense, moving the ball," said Rorke. "We need to clean up assignment errors and obviously protect the football, but I think we will be all right. We just need some more time to get the younger players on the same page."

Late in the third quarter, UMD took advantage of another PSC fumble in its own territory, and Falcone added his third TD of the day, a one-yarder a minute into the fourth quarter. Junior Eric Gaccione (Westerly, R.I.) put the final nail in the coffin with a 12-yard TD midway through the final quarter.

Senior Jason Bordas (Elmore, Vt.) led the Panther running game with 84 yards on nine carries. Holton was the top PSC receiver with 101 yards on eight catches. Senior Tim Boothroyd (Amesbury, Mass.) led the Plymouth State defense with nine tackles.

PSC had won the first three meetings between these two schools, by scores of 35-0 (1994), 33-0) (1995) and 34-20 (2001).

Plymouth State, 0-1, has another non-conference road game on tap for next Saturday (Sept. 21), in Wayne, N.J., facing William Paterson University (1:00 p.m.). The first home game is the Freedom Football Conference opener in two weeks (Sept. 28) against Norwich University (1:00 p.m.).