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Football to visit Maine Maritime in NEFC crossover game

Panthers looking to get on track against Mariners

GAME #3     Plymouth State University (0-2) at Maine Maritime Academy (0-1)
  Saturday, Sept. 15, 2012, 12 noon, Ritchie Field, Castine, Maine



            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – It's crossover week in the New England Football Conference as the eight schools in the Boyd Division face their counterparts in the Bogan Division, including Plymouth State University visiting the Maine Maritime Academy.

            The Panthers and Mariners will kick off Saturday at 12 noon at Ritchie Field in Castine, Maine. PSU is looking to get on track after a pair of season-opening non-conference losses to Castleton State College and Mount Ida College, while Maine Maritime is playing its second game of the year and its home opener after dropping a 34-14 decision last Saturday in its season debut at Anna Maria College.  Saturday will be the first game between the two schools since the NEFC Championship game at MMA in 2008, when the Boyd Division champion Panthers defeated Bogan Division champion Mariners, 46-16.

            The statistics indicate that both teams will try to run the football on Saturday, as the game includes two of the top four rushing teams in the 16-team NEFC.  MMA is tied for second with 248 rushing yards per game while PSU is fourth with 231 rushing yards per contest.  The Panthers have a veteran defensive line and are ranked fourth in the NEFC in stopping the run (77 yards per game) while the Mariners allowed 260 yards rushing to Anna Maria in its only game so far.

            Plymouth State used a strong running game to build a 12-7 halftime lead against Mount Ida, but couldn't put any points on the board in the second half.  Senior RB Andrew Foglia (Montauk, N.Y./East Hampton) led the Panther offense, running for 118 yards on 16 carries (7.4 avg), his sixth career 100-yard rushing game.  Senior DL Matt Fiore (Merrimac, Mass./Pentucket), a returning All-NEFC lineman, led the defense with 13 tackles, including two sacks; he tops the NEFC with 3.5 sacks this season.

            Maine Maritime, which finished 4-5 last year after six straight winning seasons, including the 2009 NEFC Championship, was picked to finish fifth this year in the Bogan Division.  The Mariners return three All-Conference players on defense – linebackers Joel Chadbourne and Brock Lawrence and lineman John Regis. Junior running back Billy Weatherbee rushed for 110 yards in the season opener.

            This Saturday will mark the 29th career meeting between Plymouth State and Maine Maritime, with PSU holding a 21-7 lead in the series.  The NEFC title game in 2008 was the first meeting between the two schools since 1998, when the Panthers won for the fourth time in a row by lopsided scores.  MMA also won three straight from 1991-93.  The Mariners won the first meeting, 14-6, back in 1971. 

NEFC LEADERS:  Senior co-captains Matt Fiore (Merrimac, Mass.) and Wyatt Huston (North Scituate, R.I.) are among the NEFC leaders for the Panthers.  Fiore tops the conference with 3.5 sacks and ranks second among defensive linemen with 17 tackles while Huston has two sacks and is has forced an NEFC-high two fumbles.  Senior RB Andrew Foglia (Montauk, N.Y.) is ranked fifth in the NEFC in rushing, averaging 107 yards per game, and junior Jake Matthews (Windham, N.H.) is third in the conference in punt returns (7.2 yards per return). 

NEFC HONORS:  Senior DE Matt Fiore (Merrimac, Mass.) and RB Andrew Foglia (Montauk, N.Y.) were PSU's representatives on the NEFC Honor Roll last week.  Fiore made 13 tackles, including two sacks, while Foglia rushed for 118 yards with a 7.4 yard average per carry. They are the first Panthers to receive NEFC weekly honors this season:

            Sept. 10     DL Matt Fiore (NEFC Honor Roll); RB Andrew Foglia (NEFC Honor Roll)

CO-CAPTAINS:  PSU has four co-captains who will lead the team this season – DB Ray Boulay (Keene, N.H.), DL Matt Fiore (Merrimac, Mass.), DL Wyatt Huston (North Scituate, R.I.) and graduate student Dustin Matthews (Elliot, Maine/Marshwood). 

COACHING STAFF:  Head coach Paul Castonia (Trinity '86) is in his 10th season in charge of the Panthers, with a PSU coaching record of 46-45.  He has five assistants returning from last year – Devin Zeman (Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator/Linebackers), Lou Desloges (Running Backs), Tom Pabst (Offensive Line), Eric McCarthy (Receivers), and Tom Bolio (Tight Ends), and new members of the staff include Zach Parsons (Defensive Backs) and Bob Johnson (Defensive Line). 

PSU FOOTBALL HISTORY:  PSU entered the 2012 campaign with the 14th-highest career winning percentage (.637) 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. PSU is playing its final season in the NEFC and will join the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) for football in 2013.

A LOOK AHEAD:  It will be Boyd Division games the rest of the way for PSU, beginning next Saturday at 4:00 p.m. at UMass Dartmouth.  The next home game is in two weeks, Sept. 29, against Nichols College.

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