Panthers face Bears in NEFC crossover game
|GAME #3:||Bridgewater State University (1-0) at Plymouth State University (2-0)|
|Saturday, Sept. 17, 2011, 1:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H.|
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University football team will host long-time rival Bridgewater State University this Saturday in the New England Football Conference crossover game at Currier Field, as each team in the Boyd Division takes on a counterpart from the Bogan Division.
The Panthers and Bears will kick off Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Currier Field. PSU is off to a 2-0 start to the season and looking to make it three wins in a row, while BSU opened its campaign last Saturday with a victory against rival UMass Dartmouth and is playing its second of three road games to open the year.
PSU, which has seven new starters on offense and nine new starters on defense this season, has used its usual strong running game and solid defense to pull out non-conference victories over Castleton and Mount Ida. The Panthers have gained 541 of their 708 yards of offense and six of their seven touchdowns on the ground, while the defense has allowed only 266 yards and 16.5 points per game. PSU has no doubt surprised some people with a 2-0 start in non-conference games after being picked to finish fifth in the NEFC Boyd Division.
The Bears opened their season in fine fashion with a victory at rival UMass Dartmouth, blanking the Corsairs 27-0 for their first shutout since 2005 and first road shutout since 2004. The Bridgewater defense dominated, limiting the Corsairs to just 91 yards of total offense and returning an interception for a touchdown. The Bears' offense racked up 306 yards, 204 through the air. Bridgewater finished 5-5 last year and was picked to finish third in the NEFC Bogan Division this season.
Saturday will be the 27th career meeting in football between Plymouth State and Bridgewater State, with the Panthers holding a 17-8-1 lead in the series. PSU took last year's game at Bridgewater, 17-0, limiting the Bears to 152 yards of offense and handing the Bears their first shutout defeat since 2002. The Panthers also defeated the Bears 24-21 in the 2007 ECAC North Atlantic Bowl in Plymouth. 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.
Plymouth State plays at home for the third time in four weeks next Saturday, Sept. 24, hosting UMass Dartmouth in the Boyd Division opener. It's divisional play the rest of the season for all NEFC teams.
NEFC HONORS: Senior LB Nicolas Keene was named this week's NEFC Defensive Player of the Week after making 13 tackles and a sack in last Saturday's win over Mount Ida. Panther RB Andrew Foglia made his second straight appearance on the NEFC Weekly Honor Roll; Foglia has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of his first two career starts. Here are the Panthers who have received NEFC weekly honors this season:
|Sept. 5||RB Andrew Foglia, Derek Lussier (NEFC Honor Roll)|
|Sept. 12||LB Nicolas Keene (NEFC Def. Player/Week); RB Andrew Foglia (NEFC Honor Roll)|
PANTHERS AT CURRIER FIELD: PSU is 1-0 at home this season with a win over Castleton in the opener on Sept. 3. The Panthers had a 17-game unbeaten streak at Currier Field from 2006-09, including 6-0 in '09, before stumbling to a 2-3 record at home last season. Plymouth State is 25-6 at home since 2005 and has an all-time home record of 144-57-3 for a .713 winning percentage.
NEFC PRE-SEASON POLL: The Panthers were picked to finish fifth in the Boyd Division in the 2011 NEFC preseason coaches' poll. Defending champion Endicott College was the preseason favorite in both the Boyd Division as well as the NEFC overall. Western New England College was runner-up in the Boyd Division voting, with Salve Regina University third, Curry College fourth, and PSU fifth. Rounding out the divisional poll are UMass Dartmouth, MIT and Nichols. Defending champ Maine Maritime is the favorite to win the Bogan Division, with Framingham State second and Bridgewater State third.
COACHING STAFF: Head coach Paul Castonia (Trinity '86) is in his ninth season in charge of the Panthers, with a PSU coaching record of 42-39. He has four assistants returning from last year – Devin Zeman (Associate Head Coach/Def. Coordinator/Linebackers), Lou Desloges (Running Backs), Tom Pabst (Offensive Line), and Eric McCarthy (Tight Ends). Mike McLaughlin (Associate Head Coach/Def. Backs/Special Teams Coordinator), who was an assistant at PSU from 2003-07, in back after three years at Alfred, and new members of the Panther staff include Tom Bolio (Defensive Line) and Chris Pittman (Receivers).
PSU FOOTBALL HISTORY: PSU enters the 2011 campaign with the 11th-highest career winning percentage (.643) 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.
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