Saturday, Sept. 27, 2003, 1:30 p.m., Sabine Field, Northfield, Vt.
PLYMOUTH, N.H. - After two non-conference road games to open the season, the Plymouth State University football team hits the road this Saturday for its Freedom Football Conference debut at Norwich University.
The Panthers and Cadets will kick off at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Sabine Field, with both teams seeking their first victory of the season. PSU dropped its first two home outings to UMass Dartmouth and William Paterson, while Norwich has limped out of the gate with consecutive setbacks to the College of New Jersey, Kings Point, and St. John Fisher. Norwich was picked fifth and PSU seventh in the Freedom Conference pre-season poll.
Plymouth State has been in the game at halftime in both contests so far, trailing UMD 7-0 at the break and leading WPU 7-3 at intermission. But youth and lack of experience has hindered the Panthers, as well as some injuries and adjusting to a new system, adding up to a pair of setbacks. PSU has had a balanced offense, averaging 122 rushing yards per game and 113 through the air. The defense has allowed 357 yards per game, including an average of 221.5 on the ground.
Norwich has also been competitive in its three games this fall. The Cadets were tied 7-7 with TCNJ at the half (before losing 28-17), led Kings Point 10-0 in the second quarter (before falling 24-13), and trailed Saint John Fisher only 3-0 late in the third quarter last week in a 31-6 setback.
This will be the 19th career meeting between Plymouth State and Norwich, with the Panthers holding a 13-5 lead in the series. The Cadets won last year's game in Plymouth, 14-0, their first win over PSU since the two teams joined the FFC and breaking an 11-game losing streak to the Panthers. The last two games have been shutouts on enemy turf, as Plymouth State registered a 21-0 whitewash two years ago at Norwich. Plymouth State is 5-3 overall at Sabine Field, with five straight victories.
The Panthers will look to freshman QB Mike Griggs (Hudson, N.H.) to guide the offense. He has thrown for 209 yards and one TD since taking over as starter. His favorite target has been senior WR Matt Coddaire (Chelmsford, Mass.), who has caught six passes for 124 yards. Senior Jason Bordas (Elmore, Vt.) and freshman Dan Fortier (Salem, N.H.) have combined to rush for 151 yards.
Key players on the Panther defense include senior DB Erik Stanley (Jay, Maine), senior DL Eric Lawless (Plymouth, Mass.), senior LB Tim Boothroyd (Amesbury, Mass.) and freshman DB Dan Fallon (Manchester, N.H./Central).
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