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October 17, 2007

PSU Football visits Curry in battle of unbeatens

GAME #7:       Plymouth State University (6-0, 4-0) at Curry College (7-0, 4-0)
                        Saturday, Oct. 20, 2007, 12:00 p.m., Walter M. Katz Field, Milton, Mass.

             PLYMOUTH, N.H. - First place in the Boyd Division of the New England Football Conference will be on the line this Saturday when Plymouth State University visits Curry College for a key divisional contest in Milton, Mass.

            The Panthers and Colonels will kick off at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday at Curry's Walter M. Katz Field.  Both teams are unbeaten this season, Curry at 7-0 and PSU at 6-0, and they share first place in the Boyd Division with 4-0 marks.  The winner of Saturday's game will be in the driver's seat in the division, owning sole possession of first place with two weeks to go in the regular season.

            PSU, ranked third in this week's New England Division III poll, has won eight games in a row, dating back to last season's loss to Curry.  The latest Panther victim was Nichols College, who came to Currier Field last Saturday with a 4-1 record but went home with a 30-0 loss.  PSU jumped out to a 14-0 first-quarter lead and never let the Bison back into the game. Plymouth State is off to its best start since posting back-to-back 9-0 regular seasons in 1994 and 1995 while a member of the Freedom Football Conference.

            The Panthers feature a high-scoring, run-oriented offense, averaging more than 36 points a game and gaining an average of 276 of their 408 yards of total offense on the ground.  Running backs Jeff Mack (Milford, N.H./Milford) (712 yards, 7 TDs) and Brandon Clough (Gonic, N.H./Spaulding) (471 yards, 6 TDs) and QB John DeMarco (Milford, N.H./Milford) (366 yards, 9 TD) give the Panthers a triple rushing threat, while DeMarco (38-66, 790 yards, 7 TD, 3 INT) leads the league in passing efficiency (184.3). The PSU defense recorded its first shutout victory since a 21-0 whitewash of Norwich in 2001.  Junior DB Mike Lannon (Sharon, Mass.) shares the NEFC lead with four interceptions.

            PSU continues to have a solid kicking game, as senior Brad Largy (Litchfield, N.H.) is second in the conference in punting average (38.4 yards per boot) and senior Chris Dopp (Epsom, N.H.) is one of the leading kickers in the NEFC, converting 29-of-30 extra point attempts and all four field goal tries.

            The four-time defending NEFC champion Colonels, ranked #1 in New England, feature the highest-scoring (43.3 pts/gm) and most productive (456 yds/gm) in the league.  Curry also has the toughest rushing defense in the NEFC, allowing less than 63 yards per game, which could present problems for PSU's running game.

              CAREER SERIES:  This will be the 24th career meeting between PSU and Curry, dating back to Plymouth State's first year in the NEFC, 1971, and the Panthers hold a 16-7 career advantage.  Curry dominated the series in the 1970s, winning six of the first seven games between the two schools.  Plymouth State then had a dominating run, taking 14 in a row from 1978-1991, before departing the NEFC.  The Panthers added another win in 1997, the only non-conference game between the two schools.  By the time the series resumed last year, Curry was the powerhouse of the NEFC and knocked off Plymouth State, 40-26, at Currier Field. 

            PANTHER BACKS CLIMBING UP:  PSU's backfield combination of senior Jeff Mack (Milford, N.H./Milford) and juniors John DeMarco (Milford, N.H./Milford) and Brandon Clough (Gonic, N.H./Spaulding) are all climbing up on the Panther career rushing list.  All three have gone over the 1,000-yard mark for their careers this season, the 10th, 11th and 12th players in school history to reach the milestone. Mack has moved up to sixth on the career rushing list with 1,524 yards (on 319 carries, 4.8 average, 16 TDs), while DeMarco is seventh with 1,169 yards (on 306 carries, 3.8 average, 21 TDs), and Clough is 12th with 1,033 yards (on 192 carries, 5.4 average, 11 TDs).

              NEFC HONORS:  Plymouth State QB John DeMarco (Milford, N.H.) was honored for the fourth straight week with a spot on the NEFC Weekly Honor Roll after his strong performance in last Saturday's win over Nichols. Here is the list of Panthers who have received NEFC weekly honors this season:
            Sept. 10      RB Jeff Mack (NEFC Honor Roll)
            Sept. 17      RB Jeff Mack (NEFC Honor Roll), DB Mike Lannon (NEFC Honor Roll)
            Sept. 24      QB John DeMarco (NEFC Honor Roll)
            Oct. 1          QB John DeMarco (NEFC Co-Offensive Player of the Week)
            Oct. 8          QB John DeMarco (NEFC Honor Roll)
            Oct. 15        QB John DeMarco (NEFC Honor Roll)

              PSU FOOTBALL HISTORY:  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 has the 15th-highest career winning percentage (.628) among all NCAA Division III football programs.

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