GAME #10: Salve Regina University (4-4, 3-3) at Plymouth State University (8-1, 6-0)
Saturday, Nov. 8, 2008, 1:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H.
PLYMOUTH, N.H. - The Plymouth State University football team wraps up its outstanding regular season this Saturday, hosting Salve Regina University in a New England Football Conference Boyd Division affair.
The Panthers and Seahawks will kick off at 1:00 p.m. Saturday at Currier Field in Plymouth, and both teams have something on the line. Salve comes in with a .500 record and with a victory can post its first winning season since 2000. PSU has already clinched a share of the divisional title and a berth in next Saturday's NEFC Championship game, but can clinch the Boyd Division title outright with a win over the Seahawks.
Plymouth State has won seven in a row to improve to 8-1 overall and remain unbeaten in NEFC play (6-0). The Panthers have climbed to No. 2 in the New England Division III poll and have started to receive votes in a national poll. PSU features the top defense in the league, allowing only 272 yards and less than 16 points per outing. The offense has been very successful running the ball, handing it off almost 90 percent of the time and gaining 291 of its 346 yards per game and scoring 33 of its 37 touchdowns on the ground. The Panthers have been terrific when it counts, leading the NEFC in both red-zone offense (89 percent, scoring on 32 of 36 attempts) and red-zone defense (58 percent, allowing points on 18 of 31 chances).
Salve (4-4, 3-3) is having one of its best seasons in years, the four wins the most in a season since the 2001 team finished 4-4. The Seahawks are coming off a solid road win over Western New England last week, and also own wins over Nichols, Endicott and SUNY Maritime. Salve averages 376 yards and 25 points a game while allowing 351 yards and 24 points an outing, and tops the league in pass defense (117 yards allowed per contest). The Seahawks also share the league lead in turnover margin, collecting 14 fumble recoveries and nine interceptions while giving away six fumble and nine INTs.
PSU has defeated Salve the past two seasons, has won four in a row in the brief career history and owns a 4-1 lead in the all-time series. The Panthers took a 27-7 decision in Plymouth two years ago and a 21-0 victory last year in Rhode Island. The first three games came within a 365-day span a decade ago, including two ECAC Championship games. Salve took the first contest, 36-6, in Newport, R.I. on Nov. 21, 1998, to capture the ECAC Northeast title. The teams met again to open the 1999 season, with PSU winning 16-7, and they made it three contests in less than a year when the Panthers captured a 13-7 win for the ECAC Northeast Championship on Nov. 20, 1999.
SENIOR DAY: Plymouth State University will salute the 12 Panther seniors who are playing their final regular season home game Saturday. The dozen seniors are Michael Brian (Bedford, N.H./West), Brandon Clough (Rochester, N.H./Spaulding), John DeMarco (Milford, N.H./Milford), Chris Dopp (Epsom, N.H./Bow), Joe Duval (Dover, N.H./Dover), Ryan Harrington (Hampton, N.H./Winnacunnet), Justin Jarvis (Surry, N.H./Monadnock), Brian Keenan (Hampstead, N.H./Pinkerton), Mike Lannon (Sharon, Mass./Sharon), Andrew Pixley (Middleton, N.H./Farmington), and co-captains Jeff Mack (Milford, N.H./Milford), and Tim Nicholson (Franklin, Mass./Franklin).
NEFC PICTURE: Plymouth State will be the Boyd Division representative in the 2008 NEFC Championship game, ending Curry College's five-year reign as conference champion. The Bogan Division representative will be either Maine Maritime or Bridgewater State, which are tied for first heading into today's final game. MMA hosts Fitchburg State and BSC entertains Mass Maritime in today's finales, and Maine Maritime owns the tiebreaker over Bridgewater if the teams finish tied. The host of the NEFC title game rotates each year, and 2008 is the Bogan Division winner's turn to host.
PSU AT CURRIER FIELD: The Panthers are 4-0 at home this season, running their Currier Field winning streak to 11, dating back to 2006. PSU was 6-0 at home last season, the first undefeated mark in home games since the Panthers were 4-0 in 1991, and the best undefeated home record since the 1984 team went 6-0. Plymouth State now has an all-time home record of 135-54-3 for a .711 winning percentage. PSU is 17-3 at home since 2005.
MACK ATTACK: The PSU ground game is led by senior Jeff Mack, who ranks third in the nation in rushing with 1,515 yards and 16th in the nation in scoring with 18 touchdowns. He has four 200-yard rushing performances and another 197-yard effort. Mack has moved into second place on PSU's single-season rushing list, trailing only Joe Dudek's senior season of 1,615 yards and 24 TDs in 1985. Mack is second to Dudek in Plymouth State career rushing as well, Mack with 3,680 yards (5.7 avg.) and 41 touchdowns and Dudek with 5,560 yards (7.1 avg.) and 76 scores from 1982-85.
NEFC HONORS: Panther players have been regulars on the weekly list of NEFC honors. Jeff Mack made his seventh appearance last week after rushing for 221 yards and two TDs in the win over MIT. Sophomore WR Dan Kelly (Londonderry, N.H.) made his first appearance after making four tackles and two INTs. Here are the Panthers who have received NEFC weekly honors this season:
Sept. 8 RB Jeff Mack (NEFC Honor Roll), DL Matt MacLean (NEFC Honor Roll)
Sept. 15 None
Sept. 22 RB Jeff Mack (NEFC Honor Roll), DB Kevin Whalen (NEFC Honor Roll)
Sept. 29 RB Jeff Mack (NEFC Honor Roll), DB Zach Parsons (NEFC Honor Roll)
Oct. 6 RB Jeff Mack (NEFC Co-Offensive Player/Week), LB Steve Campbell (NEFC Honor Roll)
Oct. 13 RB Jeff Mack (NEFC Co-Offensive Player/Week)
Oct. 20 RB Jeff Mack (NEFC Honor Roll), DB Kevin Whalen (NEFC Honor Roll)
Oct. 27 WR J.J. Brooks (NEFC Honor Roll), LB Steve Campbell (NEFC Co-Defensive Player/Week)
Nov. 3 RB Jeff Mack (NEFC Honor Roll), DB Dan Kelly (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 12th-highest career winning percentage (.636) among all NCAA Division III football programs.
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