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September 19, 2012

PSU Football on the road to visit UMass Dartmouth

Panthers open Boyd Division play against Corsairs

GAME #4:   Plymouth State University (1-2, 0-0) at University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (0-3, 0-0)
  Saturday, Sept. 22, 2012, 4:00 p.m., Cressy Field, North Dartmouth, Mass.

                        

            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The New England Football Conference begins divisional play this weekend, including Plymouth State University visiting the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth for a Boyd Division encounter.

            The Panthers and Corsairs will kick off Saturday at 4:00 p.m. in the home opener at Cressy Field in North Dartmouth, Mass. PSU is looking to build on a 13-7 triumph over Maine Maritime Academy last Saturday in the NEFC crossover game, its first victory of the season, while UMD is seeking its first win of the year after opening with three straight road games against three of the top teams in New England.

            Plymouth State used a strong defensive stand to preserve the victory against Maine Maritime, stopping the Mariners on fourth-and-goal from the one in the closing seconds of the game.  Defenses tightened in the second half as all of the scoring came in the first 30 minutes, including rushing touchdowns by both PSU starting running backs, graduate student Dustin Matthews (Eliot, Maine) and senior Andrew Foglia (Montauk, N.Y./East Hampton).  PSU has gained 217 of its 277 yards per game on the ground, ranking fourth among the 16 teams in the NEFC in rushing, while the defense has surrendered 343 yards per contest.

            UMass Dartmouth, which finished 5-5 last year, has dropped its three road games to Bridgewater State (ranked first in the current New England Division III poll), Framingham State (ranked ninth) and Mount Ida (also received votes).  Mount Ida needed a 47-yard field goal with less than two minutes remaining in the season opener to knock off the Corsairs, but Bridgewater State (31-6) and Framingham State (30-0) have posted decisive victories the past two weeks.  UMD has averaged 213 yards of offense this season, 145 through the air.

            Saturday will be the 14th career meeting on the gridiron between PSU and UMD, with the Panthers holding a 9-4 lead in the all-time series. UMD snapped a six-game losing skid to the Panthers last year with a 16-0 victory at Currier Field in Plymouth.  PSU took the most recent game at UMD's Cressy Field, 33-9, in 2010. The Panthers won the first three games of the series in 1994, 1995 and 2001, but UMD came back with three straight wins from 2002-04 prior to six consecutive PSU verdicts from 2005-10. 

NEFC LEADERS:  Senior co-captains Matt Fiore (Merrimac, Mass.), Wyatt Huston (North Scituate, R.I.) and Ray Boulay (Keene, N.H.) are among the NEFC defensive leaders for the Panthers.  Fiore tops the conference with 3.5 sacks and ranks second among defensive linemen with 7.0 tackles per game; Huston is ranked ninth with two sacks and has forced an NEFC-high two fumbles; and Boulay is tied for third with five passes defended (4 breakups, 1 INT).  Senior RB Andrew Foglia (Montauk, N.Y.) is ranked third in the NEFC in rushing, averaging 104 yards per game. 

NEFC HONORS:  Senior DB Ray Boulay (Keene, N.H.) made his first career appearance on the NEFC Honor Roll last week.  Boulay made a team high 11 tackles, including 10 solo stops, in the win over Maine Maritime, while also collecting a pass breakup and an interception. Here are the Panthers to receive NEFC weekly honors this season:             

Sept. 10   DL Matt Fiore (NEFC Honor Roll); RB Andrew Foglia (NEFC Honor Roll)
Sept. 17   DB Ray Boulay (NEFC Honor Roll)

NEW ENGLAND POLL:  Bridgewater State (3-0) received 12 of the 20 first-place votes and topped the first New England Division III football poll of the season.  Salve Regina and Norwich, both also 3-0, were ranked second and third, with Salve receiving four first-place votes and Norwich one.  Amherst College, which has yet to play this season, is ranked fourth with two top votes, and Endicott (2-1) took the last spot in the top half of the poll.  Trinity College (0-0) also got a top vote and ranked sixth in the poll, with Western New England (2-1), Springfield (2-1), Framingham State (2-1) and Williams (0-0) rounding out the top 10.  Worcester State and Mount Ida also received votes. 

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 day 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:  After playing three of its first four games on the road, PSU returns home to Currier Field next Saturday, Sept. 29, to host Nichols College in the Homecoming contest.  Plymouth State will be recognizing the 30th anniversary of the 1982 Panther football team, which went undefeated (10-0) and captured the Lambert Trophy as the top Division III team in the East.

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