Panthers geared up to face Engineers
|GAME #6:||MIT (1-3, 0-2) at Plymouth State University (2-2, 0-1)|
|Saturday, Oct. 8, 2011, 1:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H.|
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The second half of the small college football season begins this Saturday as Plymouth State University hosts MIT in a New England Football Conference Boyd Division clash.
The Panthers and Engineers will square off Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Currier Field in Plymouth. The Panthers are 1-1 in the division and looking to build on last Saturday's victory over Nichols and stay in contention in the Boyd Division, while the Engineers are 0-2 in the division and are looking to stop a three-game losing skid and earn their first conference win of the year.
PSU got back on the winning track last Saturday at Nichols. The offense got back on stride, gaining over 300 yards from scrimmage for the third time in five games, as junior Andrew Foglia rushed for more than 100 yards for the third time this season. The defense allowed a pair of second-half touchdown passes, but has been steady and consistent this season, surrendering less than 300 yards in each game. The Panthers rank third among the 16 teams in the NEFC in both rushing and scoring defense, and rank fourth in both passing and total defense. Due to injuries, PSU has used three different starting quarterbacks in five games, all making their first career starts.
MIT gave a valiant attempt at picking up its first conference victory of the season last Saturday, but suffered a heartbreaking 31-29 loss to UMass Dartmouth. The Engineers came from behind to score a touchdown with 1:23 left in the game, adding a two-point conversion to take a one-point lead, only to see UMD boot a game-winning 45-yard field goal with 23 seconds remaining. MIT uses a good blend of rushing and passing to boast the sixth-ranked offense in the NEFC (356 yards/game), while the defense is ranked 15th, allowing 392 yards an outing. MIT has not recorded more than one victory in a season since 2008.
Saturday will be just the sixth career meeting in football between Plymouth State and MIT, since the Panthers were out of the NEFC before MIT was admitted in 1997. The first five games have all gone in favor of the Panthers. PSU posted lopsided victories the first two years, 35-3 in 2006 and 27-0 in 2007, and the Panthers pulled away to a 27-14 victory in 2008 in Cambridge. PSU led 21-0 at the half in 2009 in Plymouth en route to a 24-7 triumph. MIT lead 7-0 after one quarter last year in Cambridge but PSU came back with two rushing touchdowns and a fumble return for a TD in a 21-7 victory.
SPECIAL TEAMER: Already one of the top special teams' players in the NEFC, PSU senior Christian Mulcahy had a monster day last Saturday at Nichols. On defense, he collected two interceptions, four pass break-ups, and two tackles, and on special teams he had a highlight-reel 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. He also averaged more than 35 yards on five punts, and converted 4-of-5 PAT kicks. Mulcahy leads the NEFC with an average of 34.0 yards per kick return, and he ranks seventh in punting average (35.8 yards/punt).
NEFC HONORS: Mulcahy's big day earned him NEFC Defensive Player of the Week honors. Senior RB Andrew Foglia was also named to the NEFC Honor Roll after rushing for 134 yards and a touchdown, his third appearance of the season on the slate of honorees. MIT was represented last week by sophomore QB John Wenzel, who accumulated 286 yards of total offense and two touchdowns, and sophomore LB Jake Laux, who made 16 tackles and broke up a pass. 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)|
|Oct. 3||DB Christian Mulcahy (NEFC Def. Player/Week); RB Andrew Foglia (NEFC Honor Roll)|
PANTHERS AT CURRIER FIELD: PSU is 1-2 at home this season with a win over Castleton and losses to Bridgewater State and UMass Dartmouth. 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 25-8 at home since 2005 and has an all-time home record of 144-59-3 for a .706 winning percentage.
NEW ENGLAND POLL: Endicott College (5-0) is in the top spot in the New England Division III football poll, receiving 17 of the 20 first-place votes. Springfield College (3-1) is ranked second, with two top votes, while Trinity (2-0), Worcester State (5-0), and Amherst (1-0) round out the top five. The bottom half of the poll includes Western New England (4-1), Williams (1-1), Maine Maritime (3-1), Hamilton (2-0), and Framingham State (3-2).
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 has a tough stretch of games ahead, with consecutive road games the next two weeks at the top two teams in the league – Endicott next Saturday and Western New England on Oct. 22. MIT plays three of its final four games at home, beginning next Saturday vs. Western New England.
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