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PSU Football travels to MIT for Boyd Division game

Panthers looking to build on win over Nichols

GAME #6:   Plymouth State University (2-3, 1-1) at Massachusetts Inst. of Technology (2-2, 1-1)
  Saturday, Oct. 6, 2012, 1:00 p.m., Steinbrenner Field, Cambridge, Mass.


            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University football team will be looking to build on its Homecoming victory this Saturday when the Panther travel to MIT for a New England Football Conference Boyd Division match-up.

            The Panthers and Engineers will kick off Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Steinbrenner Field in Cambridge, Mass. PSU (2-3, 1-1) notched its first Boyd Division win last Saturday with a 20-14 victory over Nichols College in the Homecoming game at Currier Field, while MIT (2-2, 1-1) also recorded its first divisional victory of the season last week with a 28-27 comeback triumph over the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.  This is MIT's fourth home game in five weeks, while PSU is on the road for the fourth time in six weeks.

            Plymouth State was outgained by Nichols, 355-164, but the Panthers capitalized on some big plays to secure the victory.  The Panthers broke a 7-7 tie midway through the fourth quarter when sophomore Chris Smith (Nashua, N.H.) blocked a punt in Nichols territory that led to a touchdown, and junior Josh Morgan (Foster, R.I./Ponaganset) intercepted a pass on Nichols' third down of overtime, setting up the winning score.

            MIT rallied past UMD last Saturday on the strength of two fourth-quarter touchdowns.  Down 27-14, sophomore QB Peter Williams (Portland, Ore.) connected with freshman Karson Ota (Katy, Texas) on a fourth-down play for an eight-yard TD pass with 9:39 remaining, and then hit freshman Samuel Inman (Stillwell, Okla.) on a 21-yard scoring strike with 2:32 left to give the Engineers the win.  MIT is ranked fourth in the NEFC in total offense, averaging more than 404 yards per outing.

            Saturday will be just the seventh career meeting in football between Plymouth State and MIT, as the Panthers were out of the NEFC before MIT was admitted in 1997.  The first six games have all gone in favor of the Panthers. PSU posted lopsided victories the first two years, 35-3 in 2006 and 27-0 in 2007, and the Panthers pulled away to a 27-14 victory in 2008.  MIT led 7-0 after one quarter in the last meeting in Cambridge in 2010 but PSU came back with two rushing touchdowns and a fumble return for a TD in a 21-7 victory.  PSU won last year's game in Plymouth after a dazzling performance by Christian Mulcahy (two interceptions, a 62-yard punt, a 57-yard kick-off return to set up the winning score, and a game-clinching 42-yard field goal).

WORKING OVERTIME:  Saturday's 20-14 overtime victory was the third football game in PSU history decided after the regulation four quarters, and the first Panther victory.  The first overtime game was a dramatic 5-OT loss at Saint Anselm College, 41-35, in the 2009 season opener, and the second was a 24-21 loss to Curry College in Plymouth in the 2010 season finale.

NEFC LEADERS:  The Panthers are ranked second in rushing defense (105 yds/gm) and fifth in total defense (313 yds/gm) to highlight PSU's ranking in the 16-team NEFC statistics, while the offense is third in rushing (203 yds/gm) and leads the conference in time of possession (36:12 per game). Senior RB Andrew Foglia (Montauk, N.Y.) is ranked fifth in the NEFC in rushing, averaging 90.4 yards per game. Senior co-captains Matt Fiore (Merrimac, Mass.) and Wyatt Huston (North Scituate, R.I.) are both among the NEFC leaders in sacks and Huston is tied for fourth in fumbled forced; Senior Louis Montegari (N.J.)  is tied for third in fumbles recovered; and senior Ray Boulay (Keene, N.H.) is tied for eighth in passes defended.

NEFC HONORS:  Senior Josh Morgan (Foster, R.I./Ponaganset) was the NEFC Defensive Player of the Week last week after making 12 tackles vs. Nichols, including 11 solo and four tackles for losses totaling seven yards, along with one forced fumble, one pass break-up, and a key interception in OT.  Senior Nick Cavallo (Salem, N.H.) also made the NEFC Honor Roll after averaging 39.1 yards on 10 punts, with two downed inside the Nichols 20-yard line and five of 10 punts at least 40 yards.  Here are the Panthers to receive NEFC weekly honors in 2012:

Sept. 10     DL Matt Fiore (NEFC Honor Roll); RB Andrew Foglia (NEFC Honor Roll)
Sept. 17 DB Ray Boulay (NEFC Honor Roll)
Oct. 1 Josh Morgan (NEFC Def. Player/Week); P Nick Cavallo (NEFC Honor Roll)

NEW ENGLAND POLL:  Salve Regina, the only 5-0 team in New England, received 22 of 24 first-place votes and tops this week's New England Division III football poll.  Amherst College (2-0) got the other two top votes and finished second in the poll. Trinity (2-0) is third, while Framingham State (4-1) and Bridgewater State (4-1) round out the top half.  The bottom half of the poll includes Middlebury (2-0), Worcester State (4-1), Wesleyan (2-0), Norwich (4-1), and Mount Ida (3-1).  Also receiving votes were Endicott (3-2), Williams (1-1), Springfield (3-2), and Western New England (3-2).

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:  PSU plays three of its final four games at Currier Field, beginning with home games the next two Saturdays against Endicott and Western New England, the last two NEFC champions.  The last road game is in late October at division leader Salve Regina, and the home finale is vs. Curry the first Saturday in November.

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