Panthers celebrate 40th Anniversary with NEFC victory
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University football program celebrated its 40th anniversary in style Saturday afternoon at Currier Field, defeating Nichols College, 17-0, in a New England Football Conference Boyd Division match-up.
Senior linebacker Brian Castellucci (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton) made 11 tackles to lead the Panther defense to its second shutout in the last three weeks. PSU scored 10 points in the final three minutes of the first half and added a game-clinching score with two minutes to go in the game. The Panthers captured their third straight victory to improve to 4-1 overall and 2-0 in NEFC divisional play, while winless Nichols dipped to 0-5 and 0-2.
Both teams had two possessions in the first quarter but neither was able to put any points on the board. Plymouth State finally broke the deadlock with 2:45 remaining in the first half on a 28-yard field goal by junior Christian Mulcahy (Norwich, Conn.), giving PSU a 3-0 lead. That capped an 11-play drive which included 34 yards rushing from sophomore Ty Long (Dover, N.H.).
Nichols took the ball into PSU territory in the final two minutes of the first half but was forced to punt with less than a minute remaining. The Panthers got the ball back with 52 seconds on the clock, and sophomore Michael Malia (Waterford, Conn.) rumbled 36 yards into Nichols territory on the first play from scrimmage. After a Panther timeout, senior quarterback J.J. Brooks (Seabrook, N.H.) hit senior WR John Creamer (Hanover, Mass.) for a 21-yard gain, and then connected with Long on a 19-yard screen pass that Long took into the end zone with 27 seconds on the clock. Mulcahy’s extra point gave the home team a 10-0 lead at the break.
The defenses controlled the game in the third quarter as both teams had three possessions but managed just one first down apiece. The trend continued into the fourth quarter until PSU recovered a fumble in Nichols territory, and went 44 yards on six plays to score the clinching touchdown, Malia plowing into the end zone from four yards out with 2:33 remaining.
PSU held Nichols to 127 total yards on 50 plays, while the Panther offense gained 271 yards. The Plymouth State defense also caused two turnovers and sacked Nichols quarterback Justin Martin (Warwick, R.I.) four times.
The game was also a celebration of the first varsity football game at Plymouth State, when the Panthers hosted Nichols College on Oct. 3, 1970. Former members of the 1970 Panther team were recognized at halftime, along with former head coach Walter Murphy and the family of former athletic director and assistant coach Paul Arold.
Plymouth State is on the road next Saturday, visiting MIT for a 2:00 p.m. kick-off. Nichols will seek its first win of the season next Saturday at Endicott College (1:00 p.m.)
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