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Panthers to host Norwich in FFC opener

GAME #3: Norwich University (0-3, 0-1 FFC) at Plymouth State College (0-2, 0-0 FFC) Saturday, Sept. 28, 2002, 1:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H.

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Both teams will be looking for their first win of the season this Saturday when Plymouth State College hosts Norwich University in a Freedom Football Conference game at Currier Field.

The Panthers and Cadets will kick off at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, the 33rd season of college football in Plymouth. The Panthers have come up empty in a pair of non-conference road games to start the season, while the Cadets are winless in three tries.

PSC opens defense of its FFC championship with Saturday's 2002 conference debut. The Panthers shared last year's Freedom Conference crown with Western Connecticut, both teams finishing 5-1 in league games. PSC has dropped its first two non-conference games this year at UMass Dartmouth (44-14) and William Paterson (30-20). The offense is averaging over 350 yards a game, but has turned the ball over 11 times.

Norwich has gotten off to a rough start with losses at College of New Jersey and at home to Kings Point and St. John Fisher. The Cadets are leading the conference in passing offense (261.7 yards/game) but have managed a mere 61 yards a game on the ground. Norwich finished 4-6 overall last year, 1-5 in FFC games.

This will be the 18th career meeting between PSC and Norwich, with the Panthers holding a 13-4 advantage in the series. PSC has won all 10 games since the two teams helped form the FFC in 1992. Norwich's last win was a 21-15 verdict in 1984. Plymouth State won last year's contest in Northfield, Vt., 21-0, and took a 14-9 decision the last time the teams met at Currier Field in 2000.

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 118-37-3 for a .756 winning percentage. The Panthers were 4-1 at home last year, and are 36-11 (.766) at Currier Field since 1993.

RECORD KICK: PSC junior Eric Calderwood (Merrimac, Mass.) booted his second field goal of the game last Saturday as time expired in the first half against William Paterson. More significantly, the kick came from 51 yards, breaking the PSC and FFC career records for longest field goal. The previous mark (50 yards) was accomplished by Plymouth State's Jesse Elderkin at Brockport State on Sept. 18, 1999. Both Panther kickers excelled in other sports prior to joining the football team; Elderkin was an all-star striker on the soccer team and Calderwood was a veteran No. 1 player on the tennis team.

FFC POLL: Defending co-champion, Western Connecticut was picked as the pre-season favorite in the FFC pre-season coaches' poll, receiving four first-place votes. Springfield picked up two top votes and finished runner-up, while PSC got one first-place vote and was picked third. Kings Points was selected fourth, followed by WPI, Norwich and Coast Guard.

PANTHER CAPTAINS: Saturday marks the home debut of the 2002 Panther team captains. This year's group includes three seniors: RB Jason Bordas (Elmore, Vt.), LB Shawn Boyle (Bedford, N.H.), and DB Justin Falite (Saugus, Mass.).

ALL-TIME SUCCESS: The Panthers entered the 2002 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 213-91-7, just ahead of Wisconsin-Lacrosse, which has a .691 winning percentage in 77 years of football (474-201-40).

A LOOK AHEAD: Plymouth State is home again next Saturday with a big encounter against Western Connecticut, last year's co-champion. It will be the first home game against Western Connecticut in three years, since PSC traveled to Danbury, Conn. in 2000 and 2001.