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PSU Football opens Boyd Division play vs. UMD

Panthers at home for third time in four games

GAME #4:    University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (1-2, 0-0) at Plymouth State University (2-1, 0-0)

Saturday, Sept. 24, 2011, 1:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H.



            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Divisional play begins across the New England Football Conference this Saturday, including at Currier Field where Plymouth State University hosts the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in a Boyd Division clash.

            The Panthers and Corsairs will kick off Saturday at 1:00 p.m. in Plymouth.  Both teams are looking to rebound from a home loss in the NEFC crossover game last Saturday, the Panthers falling to Bridgewater State and the Corsairs suffering defeat at the hands of Maine Maritime.  Saturday's Homecoming game includes teams that were picked fifth (PSU) and sixth (UMD) in the NEFC Boyd Division preseason poll.

            PSU, which received votes in this week's first Division III New England poll, averaged 354 yards of offense in winning its first two games, including 270 yards per game on the ground.  The Panther offense stalled last Saturday against Bridgewater State, gaining only 84 on the ground and 134 yards overall, its lowest total since a 112-yard performance against Buffalo State in 2004. The defense held BSU to 238 yards and 10 points, and ranks sixth in the NEFC allowing 257 yards per game.  PSU leads all 16 teams in the NEFC on third down, converting 50 percent (19-of-38).

            The Corsairs, who have played all three games this season on home turf, got off to a good start with a win over Mount Ida.  The last two weeks have not been as friendly as UMD fell to local rival Bridgewater State and Maine Maritime in the crossover game. The Corsairs are 10th in the NEFC in total defense, allowing 338 yards per game, while the offense averages just 195 yards per game, 15th in the league.  UMD went 3-7 last year after finishing 0-10 in 2009.

            Saturday will be the 13th career meeting on the gridiron between PSU and UMD, with the Panthers holding a 9-3 lead in the all-time series. Plymouth State has won six straight over the Corsairs, including a 33-9 victory last year at UMD's Cressy Field.  The Panthers won the first three encounters in 1994, 1995 and 2001, but UMD came back with three straight wins from 2002-04 to even the series prior to the current PSU win streak.

PANTHERS AT CURRIER FIELD:  PSU is 1-1 at home this season with a win over Castleton in the opener on Sept. 3 and last Saturday's loss to Bridgewater State.  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 25-7 at home since 2005 and has an all-time home record of 144-58-3 for a .710 winning percentage. 

NEFC HONORS:  Plymouth State players earned NEFC Weekly honors after the first two games this season, including senior LB Nicolas Keene (Auburn, Maine), who was named NEFC Defensive Player of the Week on Sept. 12. 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)

SPECIAL TEAMER:  PSU has one of the top special teams' players in the NEFC in senior Christian Mulcahy.  The versatile Mulcahy is ranked second in the league in kickoff return average (27.3 yards per return) and third in punting average (36.6 yards per punt); he kicks off, and he has made 6-of-7 extra-point kicks.  Mulcahy is starting in the defensive backfield this season, as he did as a sophomore, and he moved to wide receiver as a junior to help the team. 

NEW ENGLAND POLL:  Springfield College (2-0) received 14 of the 20 first-place votes and topped the first New England Division III football poll of the season.  Endicott (3-0) and Williams (0-0) each received three first-place votes and rank second and third, respectively.  Maine Maritime (2-0) is ranked fourth, and Trinity (0-0) and Worcester State (3-0) are tied for fifth.  Rounding out the poll are Amherst (0-0), Bridgewater State (2-0), Mass. Maritime (2-0) and Curry (2-1).  Three teams also received votes:  Salve Regina, Western New England and Plymouth State. 

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. 

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.

 A LOOK AHEAD:  After playing at home three times in its first four games, PSU will be on the road for three of its next four, beginning next Saturday at Nichols College.  UMD returns home to host MIT next Saturday before a stretch of three-out-of-four on the road. 

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