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PSU Football clinches spot in NEFC Championship game

            CAMBRIDGE, Mass. - Senior Jeff Mack (Milford, N.H.) rushed for 221 yards and two touchdowns Saturday afternoon to lead Plymouth State University past MIT, 27-14, in a New England Football Conference Boyd Division affair at Steinbrenner Stadium.

             The Panthers won their seventh straight game, clinched at least a share of the Boyd Division title, and earned a spot in the NEFC Championship game on Nov. 15.  PSU is now 8-1 overall and 6-0 in the Boyd Division, while MIT is 5-4 overall and 3-3 in the division, enjoying its best season since 1999.

            Mack led all rushers after topping 200 yards for the fourth time this season. Sophomore Chris Francher (Weare, N.H./John Stark) added 67 yards and a touchdown as PSU gained 306 yards of its 397 yards of offense on the ground.

            Defensively, the Panthers were led by Zack Brooks (Seabrook, N.H.), who totaled a team-best eight tackles as Plymouth State held MIT to its second-lowest offensive output of the season. Sophomore Dan Kelly (Londonderry, N.H.) added four tackles and two interceptions while sophomore Zach Parsons (Florence, Mass.) had four tackles and two fumble recoveries.

            MIT junior DeRon Brown (Galax, Va.), who entered the tilt as the nation's leading rusher, finished with 165 yards and a touchdown in pacing the Tech attack. Brown had a season-low 35 yards at halftime, but exploded for a 56-yard touchdown run near the end of the fourth quarter to top 100 yards while scoring a rushing touchdown for the ninth straight game.

            The Engineers threw an interception and lost a fumble on their first two possessions while the Panthers converted the second turnover into the first points of the game. Capping an eight-play, 45-yard drive, senior Chris Dopp (Epsom, N.H.) kicked a 25-yard field goal to give PSU a 3-0 lead.

            The Cardinal and Gray responded by taking their only lead of the afternoon on the next possession. Junior signal-caller Rick Mancuso (Dunmore, Pa.) connected with senior wideout Kevin Vogelsang (Versailles, Ky.) from 20-yards out for the initial score while Vogelsang also hauled in the ensuing two-point attempt as MIT grabbed an 8-3 advantage.

            Following another turnover as MIT fumbled attempting to convert a fourth-and-one, Mack moved Plymouth State back in front with an eight-yard rush midway through the second quarter. Mack set-up the score with a 37-yard run down the left side line on the first play of the drive.

            Leading 10-8 at the break, Francher extended the Panthers' lead with a 14-yard scoring run at 7:30 of the third frame. The six-play, 58-yard drive was highlighted by a 42-yard completion from senior John DeMarco (Milford, N.H.) to sophomore J.J. Brooks (Seabrook, N.H.)

            PSU added 10 points in the final stanza off two more MIT turnovers. The lost opportunities for the Engineers' attack yielded two PSU drives that totaled 12 plays, 135 yards and nearly 13 minutes of game time. Mack added his second score of the day with a four-yard run and 2:30 remaining.

            Alex Rubino (Sparta, N.J.) made a game-best nine tackles including a sack to lead the Engineers. In addition to committing a season-high five turnovers, the Engineers were also whistled for a season-high six penalties.  

            Both teams wrap up the regular season next Saturday, PSU hosting Salve Regina University on Senior Day at Currier Field and MIT hosting Endicott. 

(Courtesy of MIT Sports Information) 

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