PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Junior quarterback J.J. Brooks (Seabrook, N.H./Winnacunnet) completed all nine of his passes Saturday afternoon for 225 yards and two touchdowns, leading Plymouth State University to a 48-30 victory over Nichols College in a New England Football Conference Boyd Division contest at Currier Field.
PSU's top two receivers each caught a TD pass from Brooks, who also ran for 49 yards. Senior Alex Smith (Walpole, Mass.) caught two passes for 103 yards and a score, and junior John Creamer (Hanover, Mass.) hauled in three receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown.
The outcome gave PSU its sixth consecutive victory as the Panthers improved to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the NEFC Boyd Division, while Nichols dropped to 3-4 overall and 2-2 in the division. The Panthers have also won 13 straight Boyd Division games, dating back to 2007, and have captured 16 consecutive home wins dating back to 2006.
Nichols had a big day in the passing department as sophomore Sean Smith-Vaughn (Cumberland, Maine) completed 24-of-43 for 362 yards and three touchdowns. Senior Anthony Pillari (Lumberton, N.J.) caught 13 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns and classmate Mike Seiger (Pittsfield, Mass.) made six receptions for 108 yards and one TD.
Saturday's result sets up a showdown next Saturday when PSU travels to Curry College. Plymouth State and Curry are tied atop the Boyd Division with 4-0 records. PSU won the NEFC last year after Curry had captured the previous five championships.
PSU had to go only 22 yards for its first touchdown after blocking a Nichols punt. Freshman Ty Long (Dover, N.H.) went in from five yards out and PSU had a 7-0 lead four minutes into the game. Nichols recovered a botch PSU punt return to set up its first score, and Smith-Vaughn capped an 11-play drive with a one-yard plunge. The extra point attempt failed, leaving the score at 7-6.
Nichols got the ball back after PSU went three-and-out, but junior Dan Kelly (Londonderry, N.H.) intercepted Smith-Vaughn on the first play and ran it back 31 yards for a touchdown and a 14-6 Panther lead at the end of the first quarter. Brooks connected with Creamer on a 21-yard scoring play early in the second quarter to put the Panthers up, 21-6.
Each team tacked on another touchdown before halftime. Smith-Vaughn hit Pillari on a six-yarder for Nichols and junior Chris Francher (Weare, N.H./John Stark) rumbled in from two yards out with less than a minute remaining for PSU, and the Panthers took a 27-12 lead into the intermission.
Plymouth State scored on its first possession of the third quarter when 6'4", 364-pound right tackle Zac Duval (Dover, N.H.) lined up in the quarterback position at the Nichols' three yard-line, took the snap and barreled into the end zone. The Panthers extended the lead on their next possession when Brooks connected with Smith on a 69-yard TD pass, putting PSU ahead, 41-12.
Nichols scored its only touchdown of the third quarter on a 48-yard pass from Smith-Vaughn to Seiger. Plymouth State went 90 yards on 14 plays on the ensuing possession, taking almost nine minutes off the clock and capping the drive with a 25-yard TD run by reserve running back James Dionne (Danville, N.H./Timberlane) early in the fourth quarter.
Senior Lawrence Scott (Oxford, Mass.) returned the ensuing PSU kickoff 82 yards for a touchdown. The Bison rounded out the scoring with less than four minutes to play when Smith-Vaughn hit Pillari on an eight-yard TD pass.
After next Saturday's showdown at Curry, PSU returns home to host MIT on Oct. 31st on Senior Day at Currier Field. Nichols is on the road again next Saturday at UMass Dartmouth.
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