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October 27, 2010

PSU Football travels to Salve Regina

Panthers looking to regroup after loss to WNEC

GAME #9:   Plymouth State University (6-2, 4-1) at Salve Regina University (4-4, 3-2)
  Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010, 12:00 p.m., Gaudet Field, Middletown, R.I.

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University football team will be looking to bounce back from a tough loss last weekend when it travels to Salve Regina University in Rhode Island this Saturday for a New England Football Conference Boyd Division contest.

            The Panthers and Seahawks will kick off at 12 noon Saturday at Gaudet Field in Middletown, R.I. in a game that features the top two defenses in the NEFC.  PSU still has Boyd Division title hopes despite last Saturday’s 14-6 setback to Western New England College that snapped a six-game winning streak, while Salve has won three in a row to get back to the .500 mark and could move into a tie for second place in the division by the end of the week.

            Plymouth State (6-2, 4-1), ranked ninth in this week’s New England Division III poll, gave division-leading WNEC all it could handle last Saturday as the Golden Bears didn’t clinch the victory until intercepting a pass in the end zone on the final play of the game.  PSU fell behind 14-0 in the first half, surrendering only the second and third touchdowns allowed by the starting defense in the past six games.  Look for Plymouth State to use defense and a strong running game against Salve, as the Panthers are ranked first in the 16-team NEFC in both scoring and total defense, allowing just 11 points and 229 yards per game, seventh in total offense and third in rushing offense, gaining 209 of their 290 yards per game on the ground.  PSU has won 20 of its last 22 Boyd Division games dating back to 2007, and 25 of 28 dating back to 2006.

            Salve Regina (4-4, 3-2) has posted consecutive victories over UMass Dartmouth, Curry and MIT to even its record. The Seahawks defense has allowed only 20 points in the three-game streak, and now ranks second behind PSU in the NEFC in both scoring defense (12 points/game) and total defense (241 yards/game). The Seahawks have made a league-leading 31 sacks.  Salve is in the middle of the pack on the other side of the ball, ranking ninth in total offense with 265 yards per outing.  The Seahawks are looking for their first winning season since finishing 7-3 in 2000. 

CAREER SERIES: PSU has defeated Salve the past four seasons and owns a 6-1 lead in the all-time series. Since rejoining the NEFC, the Panthers took a 27-7 decision in Plymouth in 2006, a 21-0 victory at Salve in 2007, a 34-7 verdict in 2008 in Plymouth, and a 33-7 decision last year in R.I.  The first three games came within a 365-day span in the late 1990s, including two ECAC Championship games. Salve took the first contest, 36-6, in Newport, R.I. on Nov. 21, 1998, for the ECAC Northeast title. The teams met again to open the 1999 season, with PSU winning 16-7, and they made it three contests in less than a year when the Panthers captured a 13-7 win for the ECAC Northeast Championship on Nov. 20, 1999.

NEW ENGLAND POLL:  Amherst College (5-0) owns the top spot in this week’s New England Division III poll, receiving 20 of the 24 first-place votes. The only other unbeaten team, Williams (5-0), got three top votes and is ranked second, and Maine Maritime (6-1) is third with the remaining first-place vote.  Springfield (5-2) and Western New England (7-1) round out the top five spots, with the bottom five including Trinity (4-1), Norwich (7-1), Endicott (6-2), Plymouth State (6-2) and Framingham State (6-2).

NEFC PICTURE:  There is still plenty to be decided in both divisions of the NEFC.  Western New England (5-0 in the Boyd) can clinch at least a share of the Boyd Division title and a berth in the NEFC Championship game with a victory Saturday at Endicott (4-1 Boyd), but an Endicott victory over WNEC could set up a three-way tie for first place in the division.  Maine Maritime and Framingham State are tied atop the Bogan Division, and both teams face tough challenges in the final two weeks. Maine Maritime owns the potential tiebreaker over Framingham. 

NEFC HONORS:  Sophomore RB Ty Long (Dover, N.H.) made his third appearance of the season on the NEFC Honor Roll last week, rushing for 127 yards against WNEC last Saturday on a career-high 32 carries.  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)
  Oct. 11 DL Peter LaBreck (NEFC Honor Roll)
  Oct. 18 LB Steve Campbell (NEFC Honor Roll)
  Oct. 25 RB Ty Long (NEFC Honor Roll) 

NEFC LEADERS:  A handful of Panthers are among the NEFC statistical leaders, which includes all 16 teams. Sophomore RB Ty Long (Dover, N.H.) is ranked sixth in rushing (86.8 yds/gm) and eighth in all-purpose yards (109.2 per game); Senior LB Brian Castellucci (Derry, N.H.) is 15th in tackles (7.9/gm); and senior DB Zach Parsons (Florence, Mass.) is tied for fourth with two forced fumbles and tied for sixth with three interceptions.  On special teams, sophomore Nick Provost (Stratham, N.H.) the fourth-leading punter with a 38.0 average; and junior Christian Mulcahy (Norwich, Conn.) ranks eighth in kick scoring (4-of-6 on field goals, 13-of-16 on PATs). 

PANTHER ALL-STARS:  PSU has several players with previous 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.  On special teams, as sophomore punter Nick Provost was voted to the First Team and junior Christian Mulcahy was Second Team as a kick returner.

PSU FOOTBALL HISTORY:  PSU entered the 2010 campaign with the 12th-highest career winning percentage (.644) among NCAA Division III football programs. 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, led by former Heisman Trophy candidate and Sports Illustrated cover man Joe Dudek.  PSU was also a member of the now-defunct Freedom Football Conference from 1992-2003, winning FFC Championships in 1994, 1995 and 2001. PSU rejoined the NEFC in 2006 and won its 10th NEFC title in 2008.

A LOOK AHEAD:  Plymouth State will wrap up the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 6, at home against Curry.  The Colonels are having their most disappointing season in a decade but will be formidable foes for the Panthers.  Salve plays its final game at home against winless Nichols. The Bogan Division winner will host the Boyd Division champion for the NEFC Championship on Saturday, Nov. 13.

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