Versatile Panther has two INTs and KO return for TD
DUDLEY, Mass. – Plymouth State University and senior Christian Mulcahy spoiled the Nichols College Homecoming Saturday afternoon with a 27-14 victory over the Bison in New England Football Conference Boyd Division action at Vendetti Field.
Mulcahy filled the stats sheet with two interceptions and four pass breakups; was 4-for-5 in PAT kicking; and had a highlight-reel 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter. Mulcahy also handled the punting and kickoff duties for the Panthers, averaging 35.8 yards per punt and 53 yards per kickoff. Plymouth State improves to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in Boyd Division action. Nichols is still looking for its first win of the season at 0-5 overall and 0-2 in conference play.
The Panthers dominated the first half and scored on two of their first three possessions while eating up almost 20 minutes on the clock. PSU capitalized on a potent running game from Dustin Matthews and Andrew Foglia on its first possession, converting on fourth down at the two-yard line on a Foglia one-yard charge before Matthews completed the 13-play, 49-yard drive by punching in the final yard. The PAT banged off the left goalpost, but the eight-and-a-half minutes off the clock set the tone for the rest of the half.
PSU used a six-and-a-half minute, 60-yard march for its next score. Freshman third-string quarterback Joey Avila, making his first start due to injuries to two other Panther quarterbacks, and Matthews completed most of the groundwork. Avila connected for an 11-yard pass to Matthews before Foglia finished off the drive with a TD burst from two yards out. Mulcahy got the kick through for a 13-0 Panthers lead.
Bison quarterback Jacob Shoup found Mark Parker for a 28-yard catch to send the Bison to the PSU 32-yard line, sending the crowd into a spirited uproar, but the Panthers quieted them down as the next snap was fumbled and picked up by Peter LaBreck. The Panthers then went three-and-out, setting up the Bison at their own 23.
Mulcahy came up big on the Bison's first play of the drive, snatching a long pass attempt by Shoup at the Bison 44. The Panthers took advantage of the momentum as Avila tossed to Josh Duford in the endzone for a 20-0 lead at the break.
Nichols opened the third quarter with renewed energy, using two plays and just 1:16 to get on the scoreboard. Shoup connected on a 15-yarder to John Sindone before tossing to David Gonzalez up the middle for a 37-yard TD.
Again the momentum was short-lived as Mulcahy ran back the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and then kicked the extra point to give back a three-possession lead, 27-7.
Mulcahy thwarted the Bison's efforts on their next possession with his second interception of the game. Nichols made one final march with under five minutes left in the game, driving to the PSU 15-yard line. A pass interference penalty in the endzone kept the Bison's drive alive, setting them up at the Panther's three-yard line for first and goal, but the Plymouth defense made a goal line stand, stranding Nichols one-yard short.
Foglia racked up 134 yards rushing on 29 carries to lead the Panthers, while Matthews finished with 56 yards on 19 carries. Avila was 5-for-11 passing for 102 yards with two interceptions and one TD in his collegiate debut.
Wyatt Huston paced Plymouth with seven tackles including 1.5 for loss of yardage. PSU held possession for 42 minutes of the game, racking up 313 yards of offense to the Bison's 237.
Nichols is back in action next Saturday in a 1 p.m. home NEFC Boyd Division game against defending champion Endicott. Plymouth hosts MIT Saturday at 1 p.m. in a conference matchup.
(Courtesy of Nichols Sports Information)
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