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PSU Football hosts UMass Dartmouth Saturday in home opener

GAME #3: University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (1-1, 0-0) at Plymouth State University (0-2, 0-0)
                 Saturday, Sept. 23, 2006, 1:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H.

PLYMOUTH, N.H. - It will be Plymouth State University's first official New England Football Conference game in 15 years this Saturday when the Panthers host the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in an NEFC Boyd Division game.

The Panthers and Corsairs will kick off at 1:00 p.m. Saturday in the home opener at Currier Field. After 21 years in the NEFC from 1971-91, Plymouth State spent 12 years (1992-2003) in the Freedom Football Conference and the past two seasons as an independent before rejoining the NEFC this year, while UMass Dartmouth has been in the NEFC since 1988. PSU and UMD face each other in most other sports as members of the Little East Conference.

The PSU Football Program welcomes the public to participate in the "Take a Kid to the Game" program. Adults will receive free admission when accompanied by a boy or girl who is dressed in their football or cheerleading uniform, or who is dressed in Panther Green. The players in the Youth Football program will receive a free game program and media guide, and will be meeting Panther players and getting autographs after the game.

PSU is looking for its first victory of the season after disappointing losses at Mount Ida (19-14) and Coast Guard (35-7). Plymouth State has averaged 311 yards of offense in its first two games, including 195 yards on the ground, and has a ball-possession advantage over its opponents by more than 13 minutes per game.

UMD has split its first two games this season, edging Bridgewater State in the opener, 15-7, and losing to Fitchburg State in overtime last Saturday, 33-26. The Corsairs overcame a 19-0 deficit to force overtime against the Falcons, but came up short in the extra session. The Corsairs are coming off a crazy season a year ago, when they recovered from a 0-5 start with five straight wins to finish at the .500 mark, and 4-2 in the NEFC Boyd Division. UMD recorded a 27-7 overall mark the previous three seasons with three post-seasons berths (NCAA in 2002 and ECAC in 2003 and 2004).

PSU and UMD have played two close non-conference games the past two seasons, with each team winning on its home field. The Corsairs pulled out a 12-10 victory two years ago, and the Panthers took last year's encounter, 14-7. Plymouth State holds a 4-3 lead in the career series between the two schools. The Panthers dominated the first two meetings in 1994 and 1995 (35-0 and 33-0), and won again in the 2001 campaign, 34-20. The Corsairs came back to win three in a row, 44-14 in 2002, 29-0 in 2003 and 12-10 in 2004 before PSU stopped the streak last year.

PRESEASON ALL-AMERICA: Senior SS Dan Fallon (Manchester, N.H./Central), the team's leading tackler the past three years, earned Football Gazette Pre-Season All-America honors in 2006. The 2003 Freedom Football Conference Rookie of the Year after a 72-tackle season, Fallon has recorded back-to-back 77-tackle seasons, collecting four interceptions and five fumble recoveries along the way.

NEFC: The NEFC has 16 teams in two divisions in 2006. The regular season includes one game against each member of its own division and one contest against a team in the other division. PSU and Coast Guard play each other in the cross over game in 2006 and 2007. The NEFC concludes the regular season with a championship game between the first-place teams from each division, this year on Nov. 11, with the winner receiving an automatic berth in the NCAA Division III Championship Tournament.

PSU IN THE NEFC: After beginning its football program in 1970, Plymouth State was a member of the NEFC from 1971-91, winning or sharing nine titles in those 21 seasons. The Panthers won or shared eight straight NEFC championships from 1981-88. PSU entered the 2006 season with the 11th-highest career winning percentage (.633) among all NCAA Division III programs.

CO-CAPTAINS: The Panthers have four co-captains this season -- senior LB John DiPasquale (Wilmington, Mass.), junior DL Jeff Ethier (North Attleboro, Mass./Bishop Feehan), senior DB Dan Fallon (Manchester, N.H./Central), and senior OL Joe Fellini (Walpole, Mass.) DiPasquale, Fallon and Fellini were also captains last season.

COACHING STAFF: PSU head coach Paul Castonia is in his fourth season in charge of the Panthers, and he has five veteran assistants returning - Lou Desloges (defensive line), Mike McLaughlin (Def. Coordinator/Def. Backs), Tom Pabst (Offensive Line), Jeremy Roberts (Running Backs) and Devin Zeman (Linebackers/Special Teams). The new members of the staff include Paul Hickey (Defensive Line Assst.) and Jason McDermott (Receivers).

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