PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Plymouth State University will make its first football post-season appearance since 1999 this Saturday when the Panthers host Bridgewater State College in the Eastern College Athletic Conference North Atlantic Bowl.
The Panthers and Bears will kick off at 12:00 p.m. on Saturday at Currier Field (admission is free). PSU, 8-1, is making its record 12th appearance in the ECAC football playoffs, while BSC, 6-3, is playing an ECAC post-season game for the third straight season. The Bears are the defending ECAC North Atlantic champions, having defeated Coast Guard in last year's title game, 41-22. PSU and BSC are the only New England teams to earn ECAC football post-season bids this year.
Plymouth State and Bridgewater State, who did not face each other this season, both earned ECAC berths after finishing second in their respective divisions of the New England Football Conference. PSU went 6-1 in the Boyd Division and finished runner-up behind Curry College, and BSC finished 5-2 in the Bogan Division and placed second behind Coast Guard.
PSU, tied for third in this week's New England Division III poll, won eight games this season, the most since the 1999 team finished 7-3 in the regular season and won an ECAC post-season game to finish 8-3. The Panthers were arguably the second-best team in the 16-team NEFC this fall, placing second in the Boyd Division and defeating Coast Guard, the champion of the Bogan Division, in the conference crossover game back in September.
BSC, ranked eighth in the New England Division III poll, is a perennial NEFC powerhouse which has a 23-6 record over the past three years. The Bears suffered divisional losses to Coast Guard and Westfield State this season as well as the crossover game to Salve Regina, but also won five division games as well as a cross-division contest against UMass Dartmouth.
Plymouth State is making its unprecedented 12th ECAC post-season appearance in football, along with three NCAA Tournament bids (1984, 1994, 1995). The Panthers have a 3-8 mark in the previous 11 ECAC games. Plymouth State defeated Mass. Maritime, 35-24, in the first ECAC New England championship in 1983; upset Ithaca College in the snow in the 1987 ECAC North Championship, 13-12; and defeated Salve Regina, 13-7, in the 1999 ECAC Northeast Bowl.
The Panthers have come up short in their other eight ECAC games - 33-21 to Albany in 1985, 30-3 to Alfred in 1986, 31-14 to Coast Guard in 1988, 33-19 to Union in 1990, 21-6 to Cortland in 1991, 13-0 to RPI in 1993, 21-17 to Buffalo State in 1997, and 36-6 to Salve Regina in 1998.
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