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Plymouth State Football travels to MIT

Panthers looking to extend winning streak vs. Engineers

GAME #6:   Plymouth State University (4-1, 2-0) at MIT (1-3, 0-2)
  Saturday, Oct. 9, 2010, 2:00 p.m., Roberts Field/Steinbrenner Stadium, Cambridge, Mass.

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Riding a three-game winning streak, the Plymouth State University football teams boards the bus and travels down I-93 to Boston this Saturday for a New England Football Conference Boyd Division match-up at MIT.

            The Panthers and Engineers will kick off at 2:00 p.m. Saturday at Roberts Field at Steinbrenner Stadium in Cambridge. PSU is looking to extend its winning streak and remain undefeated in Boyd Division play, while MIT will be out to stop a three-game skid and post its first divisional victory of the season.

            Plymouth State, 4-1 overall, 2-0 in the division and tied for seventh in this week’s New England Division III poll, notched its second shutout in the last three weeks with a 17-0 whitewash of Nichols last Saturday.  The Panther defense, led by senior linebacker Brian Castellucci (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton), has allowed a total of nine points over the three-game stretch, surrendering only 150 yards per contest. 

PSU now leads the 16-team NEFC in total defense, giving up just 225 yards per game for the season, while the offense is ranked sixth, averaging 288 yards an outing.

            MIT (1-3, 0-2) is looking to rebound from consecutive losses to Massachusetts Maritime, Curry College and UMass Dartmouth since its season opening win over Becker College.  Home field advantage hasn’t helped, as three of those four games were at home.  The Engineers are right in the middle of the pack in the NEFC on both sides of the ball, ranking eighth in total offense with 276 yards per game and ninth in total defense at 283 yards a contest.  MIT finished 5-5 in 2008, its best season in a decade, but has gone just 2-11 since then.

            Saturday will be just the fifth career meeting in football between Plymouth State and MIT, since the Panthers were out of the NEFC before MIT was admitted in 1997.  The first four games have all gone in favor of the Panthers. PSU posted lopsided victories the first two years, 35-3 in 2006 and 27-0 in 2007, and the Panthers pulled away to a 27-14 victory in 2008 in Cambridge.  PSU led 21-0 at the half last year in Plymouth en route to a 24-7 triumph.

NEW ENGLAND POLL:  Amherst College (2-0) and Springfield College (4-1) shared the top spot in this week’s New England Division III poll, with Amherst receiving 11 of the 20 first-place votes and Springfield getting eight.  Williams got the other top vote and is ranked third, with Endicott (4-1) and Framingham State (4-1) fourth and fifth, respectively.  The bottom half of the poll includes Curry (3-2), Maine Maritime (3-1) Plymouth State (4-1), Trinity (1-1) and Norwich (4-1). 

NEFC HONORS:  Senior LB Brian Castellucci (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton) made his third appearance of the season on the NEFC Honor Roll last week, making a team-high 11 tackles in PSU’s shutout victory over Nichols.  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)

            Oct. 4          LB Brian Castellucci (NEFC Honor Roll) 

NEFC LEADERS:  Several Panthers are among the NEFC statistical leaders. Sophomore RB Ty Long (Dover, N.H.) is ranked eighth in rushing (84.4 yds/gm) and seventh in all-purpose yards (105.4 per game); Senior WR John Creamer (Hanover, Mass.) is ranked eighth in receiving yards per game (50.6); senior LB Brian Castellucci (Derry, N.H.) is eighth in tackles (8.8/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.) the fourth-leading punter in the NEFC with a 39.0 punting average; and junior Christian Mulcahy (Norwich, Conn.) is the third-leading kick returner (25.9 avg.) and ranks eighth in kick scoring (3-of-4 on field goals, 9-of-11 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. 

PSU FOOTBALL HISTORY:  PSU Football celebrated its 40th anniversary on Oct. 2, 2010, with a victory over Nichols.  Plymouth State began its football program on Oct. 3, 1970 with a loss to Nichols.  The Panthers were members of the NEFC from 1971-91, winning or sharing nine titles in those 21 seasons, including eight straight NEFC championships from 1981-88.  PSU was a member of the now-defunct Freedom Football Conference from 1992-2003, winning championships in 1994, 1995 and 2001.  PSU entered the 2010 season with the 12th-highest career winning percentage (.644) among all NCAA Division III football programs.

A LOOK AHEAD:  After playing four of its first six games on the road, PSU will be home for three of the final four, including the next two Saturdays against Endicott and Western New England.   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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