MIDDLETOWN, R.I. - Junior quarterback J.J. Brooks (Seabrook, N.H.) rushed for 108 yards and three touchdowns Saturday afternoon to lead Plymouth State University to a 33-7 win over Salve Regina University in the New England Football Conference regular season finale for both schools at Gaudet Field.
Junior Steve Campbell (Northborough, Mass.) and freshman Ty Long (Dover, N.H.) also recorded rushing touchdowns for the Panthers, who outgained the Seahawks 374-135 en route to their sixth-consecutive win over Salve Regina. PSU got 364 of its 374 yards on the ground.
The Panthers complete the regular season at 8-2 overall and in second place in the NEFC Boyd Division at 6-1, while the Seahawks finish their season at 4-6 and 3-4. PSU must now wait nine days until post-season berths are announced on Monday, Nov. 16.
The Seahawks struggled to find their offensive rhythm all after as the Panthers defense bottled up senior QB Jeff St. Onge (Kingston, N.H.) - the conference's leader in both passing yards and total offense. The signal-caller finished the afternoon 6-of-15 for 33 yards and rushed for a team-high 50 yards and the team's only touchdown.
Long finished with a game-high 119 yards for Plymouth State, which attempted only two pass attempts on the afternoon. Senior Jim Sestito (Foxborough, Mass.) led the defensive charge with eight tackles (six solo) - including 3.5 tackles for loss - and a pair of sacks.
The teams traded possessions in the first quarter before an 80-yard punt return by Long set up the Panthers' first touchdown of the afternoon. Salve Regina senior running back Matt Wierzbicki (Wethersfield, Conn.) quick-kicked on fourth-and-14 down to the PSU 14, and Long's return gave the Panthers first-and-goal at the SRU six-yard line. Three plays Later, Brooks rushed in from a yard out to put the visitors on top 7-0.
A 55-yard run by Long on the next Panther possession put them in the red zone for the second time in the quarter. Brooks scampered in from six yards out on the ensuring play to stretch the lead to 13-0. The PAT attempt was blocked by Salve Regina sophomore Anthony DePaolo (Southington, Conn.) - his first of two blocked PAT attempts on the afternoon.
Brooks' third touchdown of the half - a two-yard run with 3:56 left in the second quarter - capped an 11-play, 43-yard drive that ate up 6:29. Plymouth State held a 289-100 edge in total yards and held the Seahawks to just three first downs in the opening stanza.
Salve Regina took the ball to start the second half but again went three-and-out. Following a bad snap on the Seahawk punt attempt that resulted in a 19-yard loss, the Panthers offense went to work. Starting at the SRU 24, the Panthers covered 24 yards in six plays, capped off by a one-yard rush by Campbell to made the score 26-0 (blocked PAT by DePaolo).
St. Onge's 10th rushing touchdown of the year at 7:33 of the third capped a 10-play, 61-yard drive and cut the deficit to 26-7. He accounted for 39 rushing yards on the drive and was aided by a pass interference call on the Plymouth State secondary that put the ball inside the five-yard line. The Panthers answered right back with an 11-play, 59-yard drive of their own that was capped off by a 15-yard scoring run by Long with 52 ticks left on the clock in the third quarter. That ended up as the final points of the game.
Defensively for the Seahawks, senior Nolan McGarrity (Verona, N.J.) tallied a game-high 18 tackles (10 solo) and finishes his career with 265, which ranks second in Salve Regina history. Senior linebacker Brian Bernarducci (Pleasantville, N.Y.) recorded eight tackles (four solo) and finishes his career with 256 tackles, which is fourth all-time.
Sestito was aided on the Panther defense by junior linebacker Harry Fallon (Hampton Falls, N.H./Winnacunnet), who had seven tackles (six solo) , a tackles for loss and a pass break-up, and senior Alex Battaglino (Avon, Conn.), who made five tackles, including one-and-a-half for lost yardage.
(Courtesy of Salve Regina Sports Information)
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