SPRINGFIELD, Mass. - Junior quarterback John DeMarco (Milford, N.H.) passed for two touchdowns and ran for two other scores Saturday afternoon to lead undefeated Plymouth State University to a 49-29 victory over host Western New England College in a hard-fought New England Football Conference (NEFC) Boyd Division contest.
Senior back Jeff Mack (Milford, N.H.) added 157 yards rushing on 24 carries and two touchdowns as the Panthers improved their overall record to 4-0 and 2-0 in the division. Plymouth State (484 yards) and Western New England College (357) combined for 841 yards and each team made only one turnover in the entertaining divisional battle.
There were 27 points scored in the opening quarter as Western New England College took the opening kickoff and went 62 yards in 12 plays capped by a two-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Justin Walz (Groton, Conn.) only 4:11 into the game. PSU tied the score on its first possession when DeMarco (on fourth and 11) fired a 34-yard scoring pass to senior receiver Drew Richardson (Newburgh, Maine) at the 7:54 mark.
Richardson had two catches for 92 yards. DeMarco was 6-for-13 passing for 140 yards with one interception.
The Golden Bears (2-3, 0-2 Boyd Division) took their final lead when Walz tossed a five-yard score to sophomore receiver Chris Vaillant (Holliston, Mass.) exactly two minutes later. The Panthers took a 14-13 lead on a 16-yard dash by junior back Brandon Clough (Gonic, N.H.) (17 carries, 96 yards) with 2:44 left in the period.
Mack and DeMarco, who also were teammates at Milford (N.H.) High School, each scored a touchdown on a three and one-yard run, respectively, in the second period to give the Panthers a 28-16 halftime advantage.
WNEC rallied in the third quarter pulling within 28-26 following a 17-yard run by junior back Jordan Capitanio (Torrington, Conn.) (11 carries, 55 yards) and 31-yard field by junior James Farrell (East Longmeadow, Mass.) that was set-up by a 40-yard interception return by sophomore cornerback Justin Gaines (Meriden, Conn.).
Plymouth State, however, came right back on the next possession with DeMarco finishing off an eight-play, 64-yard rive with a one-yard run with 4:29 remaining in the stanza for a 35-26 margin that the Golden Bears couldn't overcome. The Panthers finished with 344 yards on the ground.
Walz completed 23-of-33 passes for 174 yard before leaving the game in the third quarter with a shoulder injury. Sophomore backup Tim Hegarty (Bridgewater, Mass.) was 11-for-17 and 91 yards. Valliant made several outstanding catches in the game and tied the school record with 12 receptions for 105 yards. Farrell also set a new school mark by connecting on three field goals (30, 31, and 29 yards). Sophomore receiver Rob Chiaccio (Groton, Conn.) had eight catches for 65 yards.
Plymouth State senior place-kicker Chris Dopp (Epsom, NH) made all seven point-after-touchdown attempts and is now 22-for-22 for the season.
The Panthers, who have won six in a row dating back to last season, look to extend their string next Saturday with a home game against Endicott (1:30 p.m.)
(Courtesy of Western New England Sports Information)
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