Panthers looking for bounce-back game vs. Golden Bears
|GAME #8:||Plymouth State University (4-3, 2-2) at Western New England University (6-1, 4-0)|
|Saturday, Oct. 22, 2011, 1:00 p.m., Golden Bear Stadium, Springfield, Mass.|
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – It will be another tough challenge for the Plymouth State University football team this Saturday when the Panthers travel to Western New England University for a New England Football Conference Boyd Division clash.
The Panthers and Golden Bears will kick off Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Golden Bear Stadium in Springfield, Mass. The Panthers (4-3 overall, 2-2 NEFC Boyd) are looking to bounce back from a tough49-0 loss last Saturday to Endicott College, the top-ranked Division III team in New England. Western New England (6-1 overall, 4-0 NEFC Boyd) has won five games in a row and shares first place in the Boyd Division with Endicott.
PSU is looking to get back on track after stalling last Saturday at Endicott. The Panther offense, which was averaging nearly 250 yards per game, was held to 125 yards, while the defense, which had kept its previous six opponents to less than 300 yards, gave up more than 500 to the Gulls. The Panthers enter this week's game ranked fifth in the NEFC in total defense (289 yards allowed per game) while the offense is 14th, gaining229 yards an outing. Due to injuries, PSU has used three different starting quarterbacks, all making their first career starts, and thus, the Panthers have run the ball 332 times on 364 plays from scrimmage.
Western New England, ranked fourth in New England, posted its first shutout since 2006 last Saturday with a 31-0 whitewash of MIT. The Golden Bears put up their best offensive showing of the year with 429 yards, including 301 on the ground, while giving up just 149 yard. WNE is ranked eighth in the NEFC in total offense (315 yards per game) while the defense is third, allowing only 244 yards an outing. The Golden Bears have made an impact on New England small college football in the last few years; WNE had losing seasons eight times in 10 years from 1999-08 before going 6-4 in 2009 and a program-best 9-2 last year, including a 66-41 victory at Maine Maritime in the ECAC North Central Bowl.
Plymouth State leads the career series against WNE 12-1, with the Golden Bears posting their first win last season, 14-6, in Plymouth. The Panthers easily won all eight games in the 1980s, scoring at least 20 points and keeping WNEC to single-digit scoring in all eight. When the series resumed in 2006, the Panthers pulled out a 19-18 fourth-quarter win, and PSU won by at least 17 point the next three years before WNE broke through last season.
SPECIAL TEAMER: PSU has one of the top special teams players in Christian Mulcahy, who has been both the NEFC Defensive Player (Oct. 2) and Special Teams Player of the Week (Oct. 9). The senior defensive back is leading the NCAA Division III in kick-off return average (34.6 yards/return) and ranks 10th in the NEFC in punting (35.6 yard avg.). He exploded in back-to-back victories over Nichols and MIT the first two weeks in October.
|vs. Nichols:||2 INT, 4 pass br.-ups, 2 tack.; 90-yd KO ret. for TD; 3-for-4 PAT kicks; 4 punts, 35.8 avg.|
|vs. MIT:||2 INT, 4 tack.; 57-yd KO ret. to set up TD; 3-for-4 PAT kicks; 3 punts, 45.0 avg., 2 inside 20; career-long 62-yd punt; game-clinching, career-long 42-yd FG in fourth qtr.|
NEFC LEADERS: Mulcahy's name appears in several places in the NEFC statistical rankings. In addition to leading the league in kick-off returns, he shares the conference lead and is tied for 10th nationally with five interceptions, all five coming in the past three weeks, and he is tied for third in passes defended (1.29 per game). Junior RB Andrew Foglia is ranked 10th in the NEFC in rushing, averaging 84.3 yards per game, and junior Ray Boulay is ranked seventh in the conference in kick returns (21.2 yard per return).
NEFC HONORS: 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)|
NEW ENGLAND POLL: Endicott College (7-0) is in the top spot in the New England Division III football poll, receiving 18 of the 20 first-place votes. Trinity (4-0) is ranked second, with the other two top votes, while Amherst (4-0), Western New England (6-1) and Springfield College (4-2) round out the top five. The bottom half of the poll includes Framingham State (5-2), Wesleyan (3-1), Worcester State (5-2), Maine Maritime (4-2), and Bridgewater State (4-2).
PSU FOOTBALL HISTORY: PSU entered 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 final home game of the season next Saturday (Oct. 29) against Boyd Division foe Salve Regina (currently 4-3 overall, 2-2 NEFC). The Panthers then wrap up the regular season with a road game at Curry College (3-4 overall, 1-3 NEFC) on Nov. 5.
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