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Plymouth State Football travels to Nichols

Panthers looking to get back on track vs. Bison

GAME #5:     Plymouth State University (2-2, 0-1) at Nichols College (0-4, 0-1)
  Saturday, Oct. 1, 2011, 1:00 p.m., Vendetti Field, Dudley, Mass.



            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – After playing three of its first four games this season at home, the Plymouth State University football team will be on the road for three of its next four, beginning this Saturday in a New England Football Conference Boyd Division contest at Nichols College.

            The Panthers and Bison will kick off Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Vendetti Field in Dudley, Mass.  Both teams will be out to get on the winning track, PSU having dropped two in a row to fall to the .500 mark and Nichols having lost its first four games.  The Panthers are coming off a 16-0 loss to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth in their Boyd Division opener last Saturday, while the Bison were defeated by Western New England University, 38-23.

            The PSU defense has been steady and consistent this season, surrendering less than 300 yards in each game and ranking third in the NEFC in scoring defense (14.8 points per game) and fifth in total defense (256.8 yards per game).  The offense, which averaged 354 yards an outing in winning its first two games (with just two turnovers), has stalled the last two weeks in losses to Bridgewater State and UMass Dartmouth; the Panthers have managed just 250 yards combined the last two weeks and turned the ball over five times.  There have been bright spots on special teams as well, such as PSU leading the NEFC in kickoff returns.

            The Bison are playing at home this Saturday after three straight road games.  Nichols, which lost its first eight games last season en route to a 1-9 finish, have struggled out of the gate again this fall.  The Bison lost a heartbreaker at home to Westfield State in the season opener, 21-20, and has dropped consecutive road games to Framingham State, Worcester State and Western New England.  Nichols is ranked 11th in the NEFC in total defense (356 yards/game) and 14th in total offense (212 yards/game).

            Saturday will be the 28th meeting in the all-time series between the two schools, a series that started with Plymouth State's first varsity game in 1970.  The Panthers have won four in a row and lead the career series, 17-9-1. Plymouth State won 12 in a row from 1980-91, and the teams did not play each other from 1992-2005.  When the series resumed in 2006, Nichols won the first game, 19-14, at Vendettti Field, and PSU has taken the last four, including 17-0 last year at Currier Field. 

SPECIAL TEAMER:  PSU has one of the top special teams' players in the NEFC in senior Christian Mulcahy.  The versatile Mulcahy leads the league in kickoff return average (27.0 yards per return) and ranks eighth in punting average (36.6 yards per punt).  He also kicks off for PSU 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.

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)

NEW ENGLAND POLL:  Endicott College (4-0) has moved into the top spot in the New England Division III football poll, receiving 16 of the 22 first-place votes.  Springfield College (2-1) is ranked second, with one top vote, while Williams College (1-0) received four first-place votes and finished third in the poll.  Maine Maritime (3-0) is ranked fourth, followed by Trinity (1-0), Worcester State (4-0), Amherst (1-0), Curry (3-1), Western New England (3-1), and Wesleyan (1-0). 

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.                                                                          

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:  PSU plays its only home game of the next four next Saturday, Oct. 8, hosting MIT at Currier Field.  Then it will be tough consecutive road games at league leaders Endicott and Western New England heading into late October. 

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