DUDLEY, Mass. - Freshman Anthony Pillari (Westwood, N.J.) ran for over 100 yards for the second straight game Saturday afternoon to lead Nichols College to a 19-14 victory over New England Football Conference Boyd Division foe Plymouth State University in front of a packed Homecoming crowd at Vendetti Field.
Pillari rushed for 142 yards and scored two of Nichols' three touchdowns on the day, including a 38-yard run at the end of the third quarter which helped seal the victory. The Bison are now 4-2 overall and 3-1 in the NEFC Boyd Division, which ties them for second place behind undefeated Curry. The Panthers fall to 2-4 overall and 2-2 in the Boyd Division.
The Bison started out strong on both sides of the ball as Plymouth State went four and out on its first possession and senior Bryan Meuse (Billerica, Mass.) forced a Panther fumble on their second drive. Nichols capitalized as Pillari ran in his first touchdown from five yards out with 5:33 left in the first quarter.
A 19-yard rush by PSU senior QB Tye Seastedt (Danville, N.H.) got Plymouth State down to the eight yard line to start the second quarter. He followed with a seven yard run, just shy of the end zone but sophomore John DeMarco (Milford, N.H.) was able to sneak into the end zone on the next play to make it a 7-7 ball game, which stood until halftime.
The Nichols defense was dominant in the second half, allowing Plymouth State just 46 yards while the Bison offense did its job, racking up 182 yards. Senior quarterback Michael Carven (Hanover, Mass.) connected with junior Nicholas Kane (Holyoke, Mass.) on a 12-yard pass to put the Bison up 13-7 with 10:05 left in the third quarter. Pillari then gave Nichols a key 19-7 lead when he broke free for a 37-yard touchdown with 1:07 left in the third quarter.
That score proved to be key as Plymouth State rallied back in the fourth quarter. Seastedt found freshman Shawn Durgin (Concord, N.H.) wide open in the end zone after a fake hand-off to get the Panthers to within five, 19-14, with 8:17 left to play.
Nichols was unable to get into the end zone on the ensuing drive, despite a 32-yard run by Pillari, and freshman Kyle Gilson's (East Waterboro, Maine) 29-yard field goal attempt went wide right.
PSU had two possessions in the final five minutes, but was unable to get out of its own territory.
Pillari finished with 196 all-purpose yards while Carven added 68 yards on the ground, including a long of 26 yards. Meuse led the Nichols defense with 12 tackles, 10 of them solo hits. He also broke up two passes and forced the Panthers fumble in the first quarter.
Junior Jeff Mack (Milford, N.H.) led the Panther offense with 63 yards rushing on nine carries (7.0 avg.) Sophomore Mike Lannon (Sharon, Mass.) anchored the defense with 11 tackles, nine of which were solo efforts.
PSU returns home to host Curry College next Saturday at Currier Field (1:00 p.m.) The Colonels are three-time defending NEFC champions and are ranked No. 1 in New England. With a record of 7-0 this fall, Curry has won 15 of its last 16 games, dating back to last season.
(Courtesy of Nichols Sports Information)
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