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PSU Football to host Mount Ida in home opener

GAME #2:        Mount Ida College (0-1) at Plymouth State University (0-1)

                        Saturday, Sept. 12, 2009, 1:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H. 

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Both teams will be looking for their first win of the season this Saturday when the Plymouth State University football team hosts Mount Ida College in a non-conference battle.

            The Panthers and Mustangs will kick off at 1:00 p.m. at Currier Field in Plymouth. PSU is looking to avoid last year's outcome, when the Mustangs upset the Panthers in Newton, Mass., 24-7, handing Plymouth State its only regular season loss.  Both squads suffered setbacks in their 2009 season openers last Saturday, Mount Ida falling at Bridgewater State, 40-29, and PSU dropping a dramatic 41-35 decision in five overtimes at Saint Anselm.

            Plymouth State is working to overcome the graduation losses of five starters on both offense and defense from last year's team, which captured the New England Football Conference title and advanced to the NCAA play-offs.  The Panthers took a 14-0 lead against Saint Anselm in last Saturday's opener before the Hawks rallied with a touchdown in the final minute of regulation to force the first overtime in Panther history.  PSU scored TDs in the first and third extra sessions but were matched by the Hawks both times, and Saint Anselm won it with a touchdown in the fifth OT.  The Panther offense gained 344 yards, 262 on the ground, while the defense surrendered 473 yards.

            Mount Ida held a 29-26 fourth-quarter lead over Bridgewater State last Saturday before the Bears scored a pair of touchdowns to pull out a 40-29 victory.  The Mustang offense gained 338 yards but committed four turnovers and the defense gave up 533 yards.  Mount Ida is in its first season in the new East Coast Football Conference, along with SUNY-Maritime, Husson, Becker, Gallaudet, Norwich, and new programs Castleton and Anna Maria.

            Saturday will be the eighth career meeting between PSU and Mount Ida, and the Panthers have a 4-3 lead in the all-time series.  Plymouth State coasted to easy victories the first two games, 47-8 in 2000 and 43-13 in 2001, and after a two-year hiatus, the teams have alternated victories over the last five years, with the home team winning each time. Mount Ida won in the even-numbered years in Newton, Mass. (28-14 in 2004, 19-14 in 2006 and 24-7 in 2008), and PSU won in the odd-numbered years in Plymouth (31-20 in 2005 and 41-30 in 2007).

PSU AT CURRIER FIELD: The Panthers bring a 12-game home winning streak into Saturday's game, dating back to the 2006 season.  PSU was 5-0 at home last year and 6-0 in 2007, the eighth and ninth unbeaten home records in school history.  Plymouth State has an all-time home record of 136-54-3 for a .712 winning percentage.  PSU is 17-3 at home since 2005.

NEFC HONORS:  Sophomore DB Christian Mulcahy (Norwich, Conn./St. Bernards.) took a top NEFC Honor after last week's game as he was named Defensive Player of the Week.  He made 11 tackles against the Hawks, including a team-high eight solo stops, and he forced a fumble, recovered a fumble (30-yard return), and grabbed one interception (19-yard return).  Mulcahy was active on special teams, averaging 30 yards on his three punts, returning two kickoffs for 34 yards, and converting three of six field goal attempts to tie the school record for field goals in a game.

PANTHER CAPTAIN:  The Panthers have only one captain this season - senior defensive tackle Alex Battaglino from Avon, Conn.

RETURNING ALL-STARS:  PSU has several returnees who received post-season honors in 2008.  Senior OL Zac, Duval, DL Jim Sestito, and junior DB Kevin Whalen were All-NEFC First Team selections, and junior DB Zach Parsons was an All-NEFC Second Team choice.  Sestito was All-East Region First Team by d3football.com, and Sestito and Whalen were selected ECAC Northeast All-Stars.

NEFC PRE-SEASON POLL:  The Panthers were picked to finish second in the Boyd Division in the inaugural NEFC preseason coaches' poll.  Curry topped the poll with six first-place votes, while PSU was second with two top votes.  Salve Regina was third, followed by Endicott, UMass Dartmouth, MIT, Nichols and Western New England.  Bridgewater State edged Maine Maritime for the top spot in the Bogan Division coaches' poll, and Curry was the overall favorite to capture the NEFC title.

A LOOK AHEAD:  The NEFC cross-over games are next week, with each Boyd Division team facing a Bogan Division team.  PSU will host Coast Guard next Saturday and then it will be Boyd Division games the rest of the way, beginning Sept . 26 at UMass Dartmouth.  Mount Ida plays its first East Coast Football Conference game in its home opener against Gallaudet.

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