PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Senior Jeff Mack (Milford, N.H./Milford) and junior Brandon Clough (Gonic, N.H./Spaulding) each rushed for over 100 yards Saturday afternoon, as the Plymouth State University football team ran past Mount Ida College, 41-30, in the Panthers' season opener at Currier Field.
Mack carried the ball 26 times for 110 yards and three touchdowns, while Clough rushed 24 times for 113 yards and one score. Junior quarterback John DeMarco (Milford, N.H.) also rushed for 88 yards and a touchdown to help the Panther cause. PSU ran the ball on 70 of its 79 plays from scrimmage, gaining 311 of its 353 total yards on the ground, and all five touchdowns.
The victory was PSU's first in a season opener since winning 24-10 at Rensselaer to begin the 2000 campaign. The 41 points marked the Panthers' highest-scoring output since tallying more than 40 points in the final three games of the 2001 season.
The outcome spoiled a superb performance by Mount Ida sophomore Kyle Watkins (New Haven, Conn.), who finished with 224 all-purpose yards and four touchdowns. He caught five passes for 117 yards and three TDs, and returned a kickoff 88 yards for a score.
Mack opened the scoring midway through the opening quarter with his first touchdown, and senior Chris Dopp (Epsom, N.H.) added a 22-yard field goal to stake the home team to a 10-0 lead. Watkins hauled in a 20-yard reception from senior QB PJ Matthews (Baltimore, Md.) early in the second quarter to put the Mustangs on the board. Clough went in from 20 yards out on PSU's next possession to put the Panthers up 17-6, and it remained that way through the end of the first half.
Watkins' second TD to open the second half scoring pulled the visitors to within five points (17-12), but PSU responded with back-to-back touchdowns to put PSU up, 31-12. Matthews kept the Mustangs alive with a one-yard TD run to make it 31-18 heading into the fourth quarter.
Dopp, who was 5-for-5 on extra point attempts and 2-for-2 on field goal tries, booted a 21-yarder to open the fourth-quarter scoring. But Mount Ida would not go quietly, scoring on its next play from scrimmage with a 67-yard bomb from Matthews to Watkins.
Even after Mack scored his third TD of the day to put the Panthers ahead 41-24 with two minutes remaining, the Mustangs would not quit. Watkins returned the ensuing kickoff 88 yards for his fourth touchdown of the day, but the clock ran out of Mount Ida's comeback attempt.
Junior linebackers Tim Nicholson (Franklin, Mass.) and Brian Keenan (Hampstead, N.H.) led the Panther defense with seven tackles apiece.
Junior Greg Muldrow (Philadelphia, Pa.) paced the Mustangs with 11 tackles, while classmate Nick Ferrante (Patchogue, N.Y.) and sophomore David Green (Homewood, Al.) had 10 tackles each. Freshman Jordan Edinger (Key Largo, Fla.) made seven stops, including three in the Panther backfield.
PSU is home again next Saturday, hosting defending New England Football Conference Bogan Division champion Coast Guard at Currier Field (1:30 p.m.). Mount Ida travels to SUNY Maritime next Saturday for a 1:00 p.m. match-up.
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