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PSU Football travels to Bridgewater State

Panthers face Bears in NEFC crossover game

GAME #3:  Plymouth State University (1-1) at Bridgewater State University (2-0)
  Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010, 1:00 p.m., Bridgewater-Raynham H.S., Bridgewater, Mass.

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – It’s crossover week in the New England Football Conference, with each Boyd Division team matching up against a Bogan Division school, including Plymouth State University traveling to Bridgewater State University for a Saturday afternoon affair.

            The Panthers and Bears will kick off at 1:00 p.m. at Bridgewater-Raynham High School in Bridgewater, due to construction at BSU’s home field.  PSU is looking to regroup after dropping a 41-16 decision to Mount Ida College last Saturday in the home opener at Currier Field, while the unbeaten Bears are aiming to become the only 3-0 team in the NEFC.

            Plymouth State, 1-1, got a second consecutive 100-yard rushing performance from sophomore Ty Long (Dover, N.H.) against Mount Ida but the Panther offense turned the ball over four times and special teams surrendered a touchdown on a blocked punt.  The Panthers scored touchdowns on their first possessions of the first and second quarters but didn’t score again until getting a safety in the final minute of the game.  PSU is ranked sixth among 16 teams in the NEFC in total offense with 311.5 yards per game while the defense is ranked 13th, allowing 337 yards per contest.

            Bridgewater State is off to a 2-0 start to the season with wins over Mount Ida (34-25) and UMass Dartmouth (10-7).  Junior Dave Leombruno (Lakeville, Mass.) booted a 37-yard field goal with six seconds remaining in the game last Saturday to lift the Bears to the dramatic victory over UMD. Senior Justin Fuller (Berkley, Mass.) rushed for 124 yards and also scored on a two-yard run to tie the game at 7-7 with 10:33 left in the fourth quarter. BSU is ranked ninth in the NEFC in total offense with 303 yards an outing while the defense is ranked sixth, giving up 254 yards per game.

            Saturday’s game will be the first meeting between PSU and BSU since the Panthers defeated the Bears 24-21 in the 2007 ECAC North Atlantic Bowl in Plymouth.  The Panthers lead the all-time series against the Bears, 16-8-1.  The two schools faced each other almost every year from 1974 to 1997, including a 26-7 Panther win in the 1990 NEFC championship game, but the 2007 ECAC Bowl game has been the only encounter between the two schools since 1997.

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:  Sophomore RB Ty Long (Dover, N.H.) was a repeat selection on the NEFC Weekly Honor Roll the first two weeks of the season after a pair of 100-yard rushing performances, 107 against Castleton and 128 vs. Mount Ida. Here are the Panthers who have received NEFC weekly honors this season:

            Sept. 6        RB Ty Long, Brian Castellucci (NEFC Honor Roll)

            Sept. 13      RB Ty Long (NEFC Honor Roll)

NEFC LEADERS:  Several Panthers are among the NEFC statistical leaders. Sophomore RB Ty Long (Dover, N.H.) is ranked fifth in rushing (117.5 yds/gm), and senior RBs Chris Francher (Weare, N.H.) and Steve Campbell (Northborough, Mass.) are tied for sixth with two touchdowns apiece.  Senior LB Brian Castellucci (Derry, N.H.) is ranked fourth in tackles (11.0/gm) and senior DB Zach Parsons (Florence, Mass.) is tied for second with two forced fumbles.  On special teams, sophomore Nick Provost (Stratham, N.H.) is leading the NEFC with a 44.5 punting average, and junior Christian Mulcahy (Norwich, Conn.) ranks second in kick returns (25.0 avg.) and tied for fifth in field goals (1-of-1).

NEFC PRE-SEASON POLL:  The Panthers were picked to finish second in the Boyd Division in the 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 WNEC, Nichols, Salve Regina, MIT and UMass Dartmouth. Defending NEFC champion Maine Maritime led the Bogan Division polling, with Bridgewater State runner-up.  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 opens Boyd Division play next Saturday, traveling back to southeastern Massachusetts to face UMass Dartmouth.  The next home game is Oct. 2, when the Panthers will celebrate the 40th anniversary of varsity football.

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