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Plymouth State Football to host Endicott

GAME #6:     Endicott College (3-2, 1-1) at Plymouth State University (4-1, 2-0)

                       Saturday, Oct. 10, 2009, 1:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H. 

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. - After a pair of road games, the Plymouth State University football team returns home to Currier Field this Saturday for a New England Football Conference Boyd Division game against Endicott College.

            The Panthers and Gulls will kick off at 1:00 p.m. Saturday at Currier Field.  PSU is looking to keep the momentum going, bringing a four-game winning streak into the contest, while the Gulls are above .500 but have their hands full with two straight road games at Plymouth State and Curry.  The 2009 Boyd Division title is still up for grabs and both teams will be looking to keep their hopes alive.

            Now up to third in this week's New England Division III poll, PSU (4-1, 2-0) continues to use a power running game and an opportunistic passing attack.  PSU has run the ball on 265 out of 316 plays from scrimmage, averaging nearly five yards a carry and scoring 12 touchdowns.  The passing game has thrown only 51 passes but just one was intercepted and 10 of the 29 completions have gone for six points.  The Panther defense had been solid and ranks third in the NEFC in rushing defense (130 yds/gm), scoring defense (19 pts/gm) and total defense (303 yds.gm). PSU is also strong in several areas on special teams, leading the NEFC in kick-off returns and punting.

            Endicott (3-2, 1-1) has alternated wins and losses this season and will be out to win consecutive games for the first time.  The Gulls' three wins this fall match their win total each of the past two seasons. Endicott surrendered only 55 yards of total offense in last week's 41-7 win over Nichols.  The Gulls are in the middle of the pack in the NEFC rankings in offense, while they are second in the conference in both rushing defense (99.4 yds/gm) and total defense (302 yds/gm).  Endicott, which started varsity football in 2003, posted three straight winning seasons from 2004-06, but slumped to 3-6 and 3-7 the past two years.

            This Saturday will be just the fourth career meeting between PSU and Endicott, and Plymouth State holds a 2-1 lead in the series. The Gulls took the series debut, 24-7 in 2006 in Beverly, while the Panthers captured a 28-17 triumph in 2007 in Plymouth and a 36-14 verdict last year in Beverly.

STREAKS ALIVE:  Plymouth State will put several winning streaks on the line Saturday. The Panthers have won four in a row this season since its dramatic 5-OT loss on opening day at Saint Anselm. PSU has won both Boyd Division games this year, extending its regular season divisional winning streak to 11 straight, dating back to 2007.  The Panthers have also captured 14 consecutive victories at Currier Field, dating back to 2006. 

PSU AT CURRIER FIELD: The Panthers bring a 14-game home winning streak into today's game.  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 138-54-3 for a .715 winning percentage.  PSU is 19-3 at home since 2005. 

SPECIAL ON SPECIAL TEAMS:  Two players have stood out for PSU on special teams this year.  Sophomore Christian Mulcahy (Norwich, Conn.) is averaging 31.0 yards per kickoff return with one touchdown, and freshman Nick Provost (Stratham, N.H.) is averaging 49.0 yards a boot.  Both would be leading the NEFC but neither has enough attempts to meet the NEFC minimums.  Mulcahy is also leading the NEFC in kick scoring, converting 19-of-21 on extra point kicks and 4-for-7 on field goal tries.

NEW ENGLAND POLL:  Trinity maintained the top spot in this week's New England Division III poll, receiving 15 of the 17 first-place votes.  Springfield is second (with one first-place vote) and Plymouth State third, with the final top vote.  Amherst and WPI round out the top five, while the bottom half of the poll includes Curry, Framingham State, Williams, Bowdoin, and Maine Maritime.                                                                                                                        

NEFC HONORS:  Juniors J.J. Brooks and Mike Bruning were on the receiving end of NEFC weekly honors this week, Brooks for throwing three TD passes and running for another and Bruning for a key fumble return and one-and-a-half sacks. Here are the Panthers who have received weekly honors this season:                                                       

        Sept. 7        DB Christian Mulcahy (NEFC Defensive Player/Week)

        Sept. 14      QB J.J. Brooks (NEFC Honor Roll)

        Sept. 21      QB J.J. Brooks (NEFC Offensive Player/Week, ECAC Northeast Co-Player/Week)

        Sept. 28      QB J.J. Brooks (NEFC Honor Roll), DE Jim Sestito (NEFC Honor Roll)

        Oct. 5          QB J.J. Brooks (NEFC Honor Roll), LB Mike Bruning (NEFC Honor Roll) 

PANTHER CAPTAIN:  The Panthers have only one captain this season - senior defensive tackle Alex Battaglino from Avon, Conn.  Battaglino has made the most of his senior season, as he is tied for the NEFC lead with four sacks and ranks eighth with seven tackles for lost yardage.                                                                                           

WORKING OVERTIME:  Plymouth State went into overtime in its season opener at Saint Anselm, the first overtime game in school history.  PSU and Saint Anselm played five extra periods on Sept. 5, which is tied for the second longest game in NCAA history, and the Hawks pulled it out in the fifth OT. 

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. 

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.

A LOOK AHEAD:  PSU will be home again next Saturday, hosting Nichols College in the Homecoming and Family Week game.  The Panthers will have to avoid looking ahead to a visit to Curry on Oct. 24.  Endicott will have no relief after today with a visit to Curry next Saturday, but finishes the season with two of its last three at home.

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