Panthers face tough challenge against Seahawks
|GAME #9:||Salve Regina University (5-3, 3-2) at Plymouth State University (4-4, 2-3)|
|Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011, 12:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H.|
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The New England Football Conference title is out of reach, but both Plymouth State University and Salve Regina University have plenty to play for this Saturday when the Panthers host the Seahawks in a Boyd Division clash.
The Panthers and Seahawks will kick off Saturday at noon on Senior Day at Currier Field in Plymouth. PSU is looking to regroup after a pair of tough losses to the elite of the division, Endicott and Western New England, and needs a strong showing to get back on track for a fifth consecutive winning season. Salve has won three in a row since its losses to Endicott and WNE, and could be in the hunt for an ECAC Bowl game with victories in its final two games.
PSU was 4-2 and ranked 10th in New England before running into the buzz saws the last two weeks known at Endicott and Western New England. The Panther defense, which had been ranked fourth in the NEFC, giving up 253 yards per game, surrendered more than 500 yards against Endicott and 440 vs. WNE, while the Panther offense managed fewer than 200 yards in the two games combined. PSU continues to run the ball often on offense, handing off on 372 of 456 plays from scrimmage. Due to injuries, PSU has used three different starting quarterbacks, all making their first career starts. Special Teams have provided a number of highlights, including a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a 62-yard punt to set up a score, and a game-winning 42-yard field goal.
Salve has moved into the 10th spot in the Division III New England poll, thanks to three straight decisive wins over UMass Dartmouth, Curry and MIT. The Seahawks have outscored their last three opponents, 105-26. Freshman quarterback Bradley Skeffington has sparked the offense while the defense has allowed less than nine points per game during the win streak. Salve is looking to improve on last season's 6-4 record.
Plymouth State is proud to host Senior Day on Saturday, recognizing 10 members of the Panther football team who are playing in the final home game of their careers. This year's 10 seniors are running backs Chris Corey and Chad Croteau, wide receivers Joel Mignault and Josh Duford, tight ends Justin Kane and James Liddel, linebacker Nicolas Keene, defensive backs Bobby Lombardo and Derek Lussier, and defensive back and special teams standout Christian Mulcahy.
CAREER SERIES: Saturday will be the ninth career meeting in football between PSU and Salve, with the Panthers leading the series, 6-2. The Seahawks won last year's game, 30-14, snapping a six-game losing skid to the Panthers. Since rejoining the NEFC, the Panthers won four straight from 2006-09. The first three games of the PSU-Salve series came within a 365-day span in the late 1990s, including two ECAC Championship games. Salve took the first contest, 36-6, in Newport, R.I. on Nov. 21, 1998, for the ECAC Northeast title. The teams met again to open the 1999 season, with PSU winning 16-7, and they made it three contests in less than a year when the Panthers captured a 13-7 win for the ECAC Northeast Championship on Nov. 20, 1999.
PANTHERS AT CURRIER FIELD: PSU is 2-2 at home this season with wins over Castleton and MIT 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 26-8 at home since 2005 and has an all-time home record of 145-59-3 for a .708 winning percentage.
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 NEFC and ranks seventh in the NCAA Division III in kick-off return average (30.6 yards/return) and ranks in the top 20 in the NCAA in interceptions (5). He exploded in back-to-back victories over Nichols and MIT the first two weeks in October, combining for four interceptions, a 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, a 62-yard punt to set up a score, and a game-winning 42-yard field goal. Mulcahy received the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston Gold Helmet Award on Oct. 12 from the New England Football Writers.
WEEKLY 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 (Gold Helmet Award, NEFC Spec.Teams Player/Week);|
|RB Andrew Foglia (NEFC Honor Roll); DT Peter LaBreck (NEFC Honor Roll)|
NEW ENGLAND POLL: The top four teams in the New England Division III football poll have not changed the past couple weeks, with Endicott College (8-0) in the top spot with 20 of the 22 first-place votes, followed by Trinity (5-0), with the other two top votes, Amherst (5-0), and Western New England (7-1). Framingham State (6-2) has moved up to fifth, and the bottom half of the poll includes Springfield (4-3), Worcester State (6-2), Mass Maritime (5-2), Bridgewater State (5-2), and Salve Regina (5-3).
A LOOK AHEAD: PSU wraps up the regular season on the road next Saturday with a visit to Curry College. Salve is also on the road for its final game next week at Nichols. The NEFC Championship game is set for Saturday, Nov. 12, with the Boyd Division champion hosting the Bogan Division winner for the conference championship and berth in the NCAA Division III Football Championship Tournament.
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