GAME #9: Plymouth State College (0-8, 0-5 FFC) at Southern Connecticut State U. (7-2, 7-2 NE-10)
Saturday, Nov. 9, 2002, 1:00 p.m., Jess Dow Field, New Haven, Conn.
PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State College football team continues one of the toughest schedules in New England this Saturday when the Panthers hit the road for a non-conference encounter at Southern Connecticut State University.
The Panthers and Owls will meet at 1:00 p.m. at Jess Dow Field in New Haven, Conn., the first career meeting between the two schools. Plymouth State (0-8) faces a tough challenge in its attempt to stop an eight-game losing skid, while Southern Conn. (7-2) is looking to rebound after its seven-game winning streak was stopped last week.
PSC, which began the season with the highest all-time winning percentage of any NCAA Division III program, continues through its most difficult season in school history. The Panthers lost 21 seniors from last year's team, and have had to overcome a long list of injuries as well as inexperience in key areas on the team. PSC has played a rugged schedule as well; its opponents have a combined record of 52-29, the non-conference foes 26-9.
The Panthers nearly got into the win column last Saturday against Coast Guard, answering a 14-point deficit with 20 consecutive points and taking a 33-27 lead with less than three minutes left in the game. A blocked extra point proved costly, however, as Coast Guard went on to score a touchdown and convert the extra point in the closing seconds and win 34-33.
Southern Connecticut, a member of the powerful Northeast-10 Conference, brings a 7-2 mark into this week's contest. The only losses for the Owls are at the hands of a pair of undefeated teams, NE-10 co-leaders Bentley (in week three) and Long Island University/C.W. Post (last Saturday). Bentley is the one common opponent for Plymouth State and Southern Connecticut this season, and both schools had the same result; the Falcons knocked off Southern (34-27) on Sept. 20, and defeated PSC (35-7) on Oct. 26.
Two Panthers are coming off career-best performances in last week's game. Senior WR Jay Zinis (Manchester, N.H.) caught five passes against Coast Guard for a career-high 162 yards and two touchdowns. Senior RB/KR Mike Bicchieri (Londonderry, N.H.) rushed 30 times for a career-high 120 yards and one touchdown. Zinis is among the Freedom Football Conference leaders in receptions (20), receiving yards (383) and receiving touchdowns (5), and Bicchieri is one of the FFC leaders in all-purpose yards (752).
Senior LB Tim Boothroyd (Amesbury, Mass.) had another strong week leading the Panther defense. He registered 15 tackles, including two for minus yardage, and he broke up one pass and intercepted another. Boothroyd leads the FFC in tackles with 86.