PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Senior tailback Jeff Mack (Milford, N.H./Milford) rushed 29 times for 182 yards and two touchdowns Saturday afternoon as the Plymouth State University football team defeated Bridgewater State College, 24-21, in the Eastern College Athletic Conference North Atlantic Bowl at Currier Field.
Mack gained 96 yards and scored both TDs in the first half, then wore down the Bears defense in the second half, and was named the game's Most Outstanding Player. Bridgewater State had an outstanding performance by senior wide receiver Chris Joyce (Bridgewater, Mass.), who caught 12 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns.
The Panthers finish the season with a 9-1 overall record, while Bridgewater State completes the campaign at 6-4. PSU won its first ECAC contest since 1999, while BSC had its two-game ECAC winning streak stopped.
Both teams used long drives to score touchdowns on their first possessions. PSU went 53 yards on eight plays, capped off by a five-yard run by Mack, and BSC answered with a 13-play, 59-yard drive, finished off by a three-yard run by freshman Teigan Pina (Braintree, Mass.). Senior Chris Dopp (Epsom, N.H.) converted the extra point kick for PSU, but BSC's kick failed and PSU had a 7-6 lead.
Plymouth State came right back with another score on its next possession. Senior Brent Gallant (Byron, Maine) returned the kick-off 40 yards into BSC territory, and after five running plays, junior quarterback John DeMarco (Milford, N.H.) threw his first pass of the day, a 34-yard completion in the end zone to senior Drew Richardson (Newburgh, Maine). Dopp's extra point made it 14-6 at the end of the first quarter.
Bridgewater State tied the game early in the second quarter on another long drive, going 68 yards on 11 plays. Pina did much of the work, but junior QB Steven Clark (East Falmouth, Mass.) connected with Joyce on a 32-yard scoring strike. Clark, the holder on the extra point attempt, ran a fake kick into the corner of the end zone to tie the game at 14-14.
PSU took the lead again on Mack's second touchdown of the day following an 11-play, 82-yard drive. Key plays in the drive included senior Brad Largy (Litchfield, N.H.) rushing 26 yards for a first down on a fake punt, and DeMarco rushing for 12 yards on a fourth-and-11 at the Bridgewater 36. Two plays later, Mack burst up the middle for a 23-yard TD to make it 21-14 at halftime.
The Bears tied the game at 21-all on the first possession of the second half. Junior QB Tyler D'Ambra (Mansfield, Mass.), in for the injured Clark, drove the team 58 yards on 13 plays, capped by a four-yard toss to Joyce. PSU regained the lead three minutes later on a 25-yard field goal by Dopp in what turned out to be the final scoring of the contest.
The defenses stiffened in the fourth quarter, each team forcing punts by the other. The Bears had three possessions with a chance to tie or take the lead, but could get no further than the Plymouth State 24-yard line.
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