Panthers face tough challenge against Gulls
|GAME #7:||Plymouth State University (4-2, 2-1) at Endicott College (6-0, 3-0)|
|Saturday, Oct. 15, 2011, 1:00 p.m., Endicott Multi-Purpose Field, Beverly, Mass.|
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University football team faces a tough challenge this Saturday when the Panthers make a visit to defending New England Football Conference champion and currently the No. 1 ranked team in Division III New England, Endicott College.
The Panthers and Gulls will kick off Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at the Endicott Multi-Purpose Field in Beverly, Mass. The Panthers are coming off back-to-back NEFC victories over Nichols College and MIT to remain in the thick of the Boyd Division hunt. Endicott has won all six games this season, sits tied with Western New England University atop the Boyd Division standings (3-0), and received 16 of the 18 top votes in this week's New England poll.
Plymouth State, ranked 10th in the New England poll, has used a strong ground game, steady and consistent defense and spectacular plays on special teams to run up a 4-2 overall record, 2-1 in the Boyd Division. PSU held off upset-minded MIT last Saturday at Currier Field, 30-27, with special teams playing a big factor. The Panthers needed a 42-yard fourth quarter field goal to seal the win, which was set up by a big kickoff return. PSU is ranked fourth in the 16-team NEFC in total defense, allowing 253 yards per game, while the Panther offense is ranked 13th, gaining 246.5 yards an outing. Due to injuries, PSU has used three different starting quarterbacks in six games, all making their first career starts.
Endicott has powered through its six opponents this season, scoring at least 45 points four times, including a 55-7 victory at Curry College two weeks ago and a 51-14 triumph at Nichols last Saturday. The Gulls lead the NEFC in both total offense (478 yards per game) and total defense (217 yards per game). This season's performance has come on the heels of last year's success, which included the Boyd Division title, a victory at Maine Maritime in the NEFC Championship game, and a 49-35 setback at Cortland State in the NCAA play-offs.
PSU handed Endicott it's only Boyd Division loss last year, and the Panthers now hold a 5-1 lead in the career series between the two schools. The Gulls took the series debut in 2006, 24-7 in Beverly, while the Panthers have won the last four -- a 28-17 triumph in 2007 in Plymouth; a 36-14 verdict in 2008 in Beverly; a 31-28 come-from-behind win in 2009 in Plymouth, and 10-3 victory last year in Plymouth. PSU scored the go-ahead touchdown last year midway through the fourth quarter, set up by a big punt return, and sealed the win with a 36-yard field goal in the final minute. Endicott led PSU 28-10 late in the third quarter in 2009 before the Panthers rallied for the three-point victory.
SPECIAL TEAMER: The main source of PSU's big plays the last two weeks has been senior safety and special teams stalwart Christian Mulcahy (Norwich, Conn.), who has been both the NEFC Defensive Player (Oct. 2) and Special Teams Player of the Week (Oct. 9). His performance in wins over Nichols and MIT includes four interceptions, six tackles, and four pass break-ups on defense; seven punts averaging 39.7 yards, including three inside the opponent 20-yard line and a career-long 62 yarder than pinned MIT inside its five-yard line; 6-for-8 in PAT kick attempts; a 90-yard kick-off return for a touchdown at Nichols and a 57-yard kick-off return that set up the game-winning score against MIT; and a career-long 42-yard field goal in the fourth quarter that lifted PSU over MIT.
|vs. Nichols:||2 INT, 4 pass br.-ups, 2 tack.; 90-yard KO ret. for TD; 3-for-4 PAT kicks; 4 punts, 35.8 avg.|
|vs. MIT:||2 INT, 4 tack.; 57-yard KO ret. to set up TD; 3-for-4 PAT kicks; 3 punts, 45.0 avg., 2 inside 20; career-long 62-yard punt; game-clinching, career-long 42-yard FG in fourth quarter.|
NEFC LEADERS: Mulcahy's outburst the last two weeks has elevated him in the NCAA Division III and NEFC rankings. He leads the 16-team NEFC and ranks fifth in NCAA Division III in kickoff return average (34.6 yards/return), and ranks third the NEFC in punting (37.3 yards/punt). He is also tied for second in the NEFC and tied for 23rd nationally in interceptions (4) and tied for fifth in the NEFC in passes defended (1.33 per game). Senior RB Andrew Foglia is ranked ninth in the NEFC in rushing, averaging 95.0 yards per game.
NEFC HONORS: Mulcahy is not the only Panther who has received recognition this fall. Junior RB Andrew Foglia was named to the NEFC Honor Roll last Saturday, after rushing for 118 yards and catching a touchdown pass, and junior DT Peter LaBreck was honored after making 10 tackles and two sacks. Foglia has been on the Honor Roll four times this season. 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)|
|Oct. 10||DB Christian Mulcahy (NEFC Spec.Teams Player/Week); RB Andrew Foglia (NEFC Honor Roll); DT Peter LaBreck (NEFC Honor Roll)|
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 another tough road game next Saturday (Oct. 22) at Western New England University followed by a home game against Salve Regina on Oct. 29, and the regular season finale at Curry on Nov. 5.
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