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PSU Football to host Mount Ida in home opener

Panthers looking to build on win over Castleton

GAME #2:  Mount Ida College (0-1) at Plymouth State University (1-0)
  Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010, 1:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H.

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The first home game of the season for the Plymouth State University football team is this Saturday as the Panthers host Mount Ida College in a non-conference affair.

            The Panthers and Mustangs will kick off at 1:00 p.m. at Currier Field. Plymouth State is looking for its second straight victory after defeating Castleton State College last Saturday, 16-14, in the season debut.  Mount Ida is seeking its first victory after suffering a 35-24 loss to Bridgewater State in its opener last weekend.  The game features the Panthers of the New England Football Conference (Boyd Division) against the Mustangs of the Eastern Collegiate Football Conference.

            PSU used a 25-yard field goal by sophomore Christian Mulcahy (Norwich, Conn.) with six minutes remaining and a pair of late defensive stands to pull out the win over Castleton last Saturday. Sophomore Ty Long (Dover, N.H.) rushed for 107 yards and seniors Steve Campbell (Northborough, Mass.) and Chris Francher (Weare, N.H.) each ran for touchdowns.  The Panther defense allowed 361 yards but only 14 points and forced a key Spartan turnover deep in PSU territory late in the game.  PSU has most of its skill players on offense back from last year but is replacing three starters on the offensive line, while the defense has eight returning starters, including four linebackers.

            Mount Ida gave Bridgewater a tough battle last Saturday before the Bears held on for the win.  The Mustangs gained 324 yards of offense, including a strong passing performance by sophomore Scott Drosendahl (17-of-23, 3 TDs).  Preseason All-America running back Johrone Bunch scored a touchdown with 11 minutes to go in the game to pull Mount Ida to within two points (21-19), but the Mustangs missed a two-point conversion and BSU tacked on a pair of fourth-quarter scores to seal the win.  Mount Ida finished with a 4-7 overall record last year and is looking for its first winning season since 2006.

            Saturday will be the ninth career meeting between PSU and Mount Ida, and the Panthers have a 5-3 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 six years. Mount Ida won in the even-numbered years (28-14 in 2004, 19-14 in 2006 and 24-7 in 2008), and PSU won in the odd-numbered years (31-20 in 2005, 41-30 in 2007, and 34-16 last year in Plymouth).

PSU AT CURRIER FIELD: The Panthers bring a 17-game home winning streak into today’s contest, including 5-0 home records the last two years and a 6-0 mark in 2007.  PSU’s last loss at Currier Field was to Curry (40-26) on Oct. 21, 2006.  Plymouth State is 22-3 at home since 2005 and has an all-time home record of 141-54-3 for a .720 winning percentage. PSU has won its last five home openers and has an overall record of 26-12-2 in home debuts.

40th ANNIVERSARY:  Plymouth State will mark the 40th anniversary of its football program on Saturday, Oct. 2, with the home game against Nichols College.  The first varsity football game in Panther history was in Plymouth against Nichols College on Saturday, Oct. 3, 1970.  The Panthers returned the opening kickoff back for a touchdown, but Nichols won the game, 41-13.

NEFC HONORS:  Two players represented PSU on this week’s NEFC Weekly Honor Roll, senior LB Brian Castellucci (Derry, N.H.) and sophomore RB Ty Long (Dover, N.H.).  Castellucci made 11 tackles and an interception and Long rushed for 107 yards.

PANTHER CAPTAINS:  After having only one captain last year, the Panthers have five co-captains this season, all seniors.  They are quarterback J.J. Brooks (Seabrook, N.H./Winnacunnet), linebackers Brian Castellucci (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton Academy) and Harry Fallon (Hampton Falls, N.H./Winnacunnet), and defensive backs Zach Parsons (Florence, Mass./Northampton) and Kevin Whalen (Wallingford, Conn./Sheehan).

RETURNING ALL-STARS:  PSU has several returnees who previously received post-season honors.  Senior DB Zach Parsons and senior LB Brian Castellucci were First Team All-NEFC selections last year, and senior LB Harry Fallon was a Second Team pick.  Senior DB Kevin Whalen was also a First Team honoree in 2008.  On the offense, QB JJ Brooks was a Second Team selection last season and RB Ty Long was the NEFC Boyd Division Rookie of the Year.  PSU was also represented on special teams, as sophomore punter Nick Provost was voted to the First Team and junior Christian Mulcahy was a Second Team pick as a return specialist.

NEFC PRE-SEASON POLL:  The Panthers were picked to finish second in the Boyd Division in the 2010 NEFC preseason coaches’ poll.  Curry topped the poll with six first-place votes, while PSU was second with one top vote.  Endicott got the other top vote and was ranked third, followed by Western New England, Nichols, Salve Regina, MIT and UMass Dartmouth. Defending NEFC champion Maine Maritime received five first place votes to lead the Bogan Division polling, with Bridgewater State runner-up with the other three top votes.  Curry was picked to win the overall NEFC title with 11 of the 16 votes, with PSU and Maine Maritime getting two votes and Bridgewater one.

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 (.644) among all NCAA Division III football programs.

A LOOK AHEAD:  Plymouth State will be on the road for its next two games, traveling to Bridgewater State next Saturday for the NEFC crossover game and visiting UMass Dartmouth on Sept. 25 in the first Boyd Division encounter.  The next home game is the Oct. 2 meeting with Nichols.

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