DUDLEY, Mass. - The Plymouth State University football team scored 27 second-quarter points Saturday afternoon en route to a 36-9 New England Football Conference Boyd Division victory over Nichols College at Vendetti Field.
Nichols scored on the opening play of the game, but the Panthers took over from there. Senior quarterback John DeMarco (Milford, N.H.) rushed for a pair of touchdowns and threw for another, and senior running back Jeff Mack (Milford, N.H.) added a pair of TDs as the Panthers won their fifth straight game. PSU improved to 6-1 overall and remain atop the Boyd Division standings with Curry College with a 4-0 mark. Nichols drops to 2-5 overall and 0-4 in the Boyd Division.
The outcome, combined with Curry's 46-27 victory over Endicott, sets up a showdown next Saturday at PSU's Currier Field between Plymouth State and five-time defending NEFC champion Curry. The winner of that game between the two Boyd Division unbeatens will likely end up as the division champion.
Nichols sophomore quarterback Charlie Samples (Deming, N.M.) opened the game with a 68-yard touchdown pass to Anthony Pillari (Lamberton, N.J.) on the Bison's first play from scrimmage. The two-point conversion attempt was incomplete, but the Bison had an early 6-0 lead on the Division co-leaders just 18 seconds into the game.
The Panthers capped a 12-play, 5:56 minute drive on their first possession with a 32-yard field goal from Chris Dopp (Epsom, N.H.) to cut the Bison's lead to three. PSU put together an 11-play, 76-yard drive, capped by a DeMarco one-yard sneak, and took the lead for good early in the second quarter, 10-6.
After the Panthers blocked a Nichols punt, DeMarco hit sophomore Luke Denio (Hampton, N.H.) for a 45-yard completion to set up the quarterback for a one-yard rush for the score. Dopp's kick was good, giving Plymouth State a 17-6 advantage.
Senior tailback Robert Morris (Melbourne, Fla.) started Nichols' next drive with a 35-yard carry. A trio of pass interference calls brought the Bison as close as first-and-goal at the two-yard line, but the Plymouth defense pushed the drive back out to the 13-yard line, where Jacob Najas (Seekonk, Mass.) nailed a 30-yard field goal.
DeMarco capped the Panthers' next drive with a 31-yard scoring pass to sophomore J.J. Brooks (Seabrook, N.H.), and a missed conversion attempt gave the Panthers a 23-9 lead with 2:58 left in the half. Sophomore Kevin Whalen (Wallingford, Conn.) picked off Samples and returned it 19 yards to the Nichols 38 to set up Mack for an eight-yard scoring rush to close out the half with a 30-9 lead.
The Panthers tacked on another score in the third quarter as Mack capped a 14-play, 65-yard drive with a five-yard TD carry. Nichols freshman defensive back Jason Vega (Methuen, Mass.) blocked the PAT attempt.
Mack finished with two touchdowns and 113 yards rushing, his fifth consecutive 100-yard performance. He also moved into second place on PSU's career rushing list with 3,343 yards and 37 touchdowns, passing Russ Massahos, who rushed for 3,276 yards and 36 TDs from 1998-01.
(Courtesy of Nichols Sports Information)
-- 30 --