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PSU Football to host Nichols for Homecoming

Panthers meet Bison in 40th Anniversary game

GAME #5:   Nichols College (0-4, 0-1) at Plymouth State University (3-1, 1-0)
  Saturday, Oct. 2, 2010, 2:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H.

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Plymouth State University celebrates 40 years of football this Saturday, hosting Nichols College on Homecoming and Family Weekend in the re-creation of the first varsity football game in Plymouth back on October 3, 1970.

            The Panthers and Bison will kick off at 2:00 p.m. Saturday at Currier Field in Plymouth. This year’s version of the Panther-Bison rivalry features two teams meeting in a New England Football Conference Boyd Division match-up, PSU coming off a dominating victory over UMass Dartmouth and Nichols looking for its first victory of the season.

            Plymouth State, 3-1 overall, 1-0 in the division and ranked 10th in this week’s New England Division III poll, scored touchdowns on its first five possessions last Saturday, rolling to a 33-0 lead en route to a 33-9 victory over UMass Dartmouth.  Senior QB J.J. Brooks (Seabrook, N.H.) ran for two touchdowns and threw for another, a 65-yard strike to senior WR John Creamer (Hanover, Mass.), who finished with three catches for 128 yards.  The Panther defense held UMD to a field goal and less than 100 total yards until a 75-yard Corsair TD with a minute remaining in the game.  PSU ranks third in total defense among the 16 teams in the NEFC, allowing 250 yards per game, while the offense is ranked ninth, gaining 292 yards per outing.

            Nichols (0-4, 0-1) suffered a 28-10 setback to Western New England College in its Boyd Division debut last Saturday after two non-divisional games when they had opportunities to pull out a win.  The Bison scored two fourth-quarter touchdowns in week two to take the lead against Framingham State before the Rams rallied for a 20-19 victory, and two weeks ago Nichols had a potential game-tying field goal against Worcester State blocked with five seconds remaining.  The Bison are ranked fifth in the NEFC in total offense (304 yards/game) and 13th in total defense (331 yards/game). Nichols is 6-18 since the start of the 2008 season after back-to-back winning seasons in ’06 and ’07.

            Saturday will be the 27th meeting in the all-time series between the two schools, and the Panthers lead the series, 16-9-1. Plymouth State won 12 in a row from 1980-91, and the teams did not play each other from 1992-2005.  When the series resumed in 2006, Nichols won the first game, 19-14, at Vendettti Field in Dudley, Mass., and PSU has taken the last three – 30-0 in Plymouth in 2007, 36-9 in 2008 at Nichols, and 48-30 last year at Currier Field.

PSU AT CURRIER FIELD: The Panthers had their 17-game home winning streak snapped last month with a loss to Mount Ida College in this season’s home opener. PSU was undefeated at home the past three seasons (5-0 the last two years and a 6-0 mark in 2007).  Prior to the Mount Ida defeat, PSU’s last loss at Currier Field was to Curry (40-26) on Oct. 21, 2006.  Plymouth State is 22-4 at home since 2005 and has an all-time home record of 141-55-3 for a .716 winning percentage.

NEW ENGLAND POLL:  Amherst College (1-0) topped this week’s New England Division III poll, receiving 12 of the 22 first-place votes.  Springfield College (3-1) received five top votes and is ranked second, and Curry College (3-1) is third with four top votes.  Trinity College (1-0) and Williams College (1-0) and fourth and fifth, respectively, and the bottom half of the poll includes WPI (3-1), Framingham State (3-1), Endicott (3-1), Maine Maritime (2-1), and Plymouth State (3-1).

NEFC HONORS:  After six appearances on the NEFC Honor Roll last year, senior QB J.J. Brooks (Seabrook, N.H.) made his first appearance this season last week, throwing for one touchdown and rushing for two in PSU’s win over UMass Dartmouth.  Here are the Panthers who have received NEFC weekly honors this season:                                                       

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

            Sept. 13      RB Ty Long (NEFC Honor Roll)

            Sept. 20      LB Brian Castellucci (NEFC Honor Roll)

            Sept. 27      QB J.J. Brooks (NEFC Honor Roll) 

NEFC LEADERS:  Several Panthers are among the NEFC statistical leaders. Senior WR John Creamer (Hanover, Mass.) is ranked seventh in receiving yards per game (58.0); sophomore RB Ty Long (Dover, N.H.) is ranked ninth in rushing (93.2 yds/gm); senior LB Brian Castellucci (Derry, N.H.) is tied for 11th in tackles (8.2/gm); and senior DB Zach Parsons (Florence, Mass.) shares the league lead with two forced fumbles.  On special teams, sophomore Nick Provost (Stratham, N.H.) the second-leading punter in the NEFC with a 42.3 punting average; and junior Christian Mulcahy (Norwich, Conn.) is the leading kick returner (26.9 avg.) and ranks eighth in kick scoring (2-of-3 on field goals, 7-of-9 on PATs).

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 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.

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.), linebackers Brian Castellucci (Derry, N.H.) and Harry Fallon (Hampton Falls, N.H.), and defensive backs Zach Parsons (Florence, Mass.) and Kevin Whalen (Wallingford, Conn.).

PSU FOOTBALL HISTORY:  Plymouth State began its football program in 1970 and 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 entered the 2010 season with the 12th-highest career winning percentage (.644) among all NCAA Division III football programs.

A LOOK AHEAD:  Plymouth State will travel to MIT next weekend and then play three of its final four games at home, beginning in two weeks, Oct. 16, against Endicott.  PSU still has defending champion Curry College to play, hosting the Colonels at Currier Field on the final day of the regular season, Nov. 6.

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