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PSU Football to host Western Connecticut in conference opener

PSU Football to host Western Connecticut in conference opener

Panthers and Colonials set for inaugural MASCAC encounter

GAME #3:    Western Connecticut State University (1-0, 0-0) at Plymouth State University (1-1, 0-0)
  Saturday, Sept. 21, 2013, 1:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H.



             PLYMOUTH, N.H. – A new era begins for the Plymouth State University and Western Connecticut State University football teams this Saturday when the two squads square off in the inaugural Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) contest.

            The Panthers and Colonials will kick off Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Currier Field in Plymouth in the MASCAC debut. PSU, 1-1, is looking to ride the momentum of its first win of the season last Saturday, a 37-26 victory over Mount Ida. Western Connecticut, 1-0, rolled up 474 yards of offense in its 44-7 victory over Nichols College last Friday evening in its season opener.

            The MASCAC football conference includes six core institutions (Bridgewater, Framingham, Fitchburg, Mass. Maritime, Westfield, Worcester) along with Plymouth State, UMass Dartmouth, and Western Connecticut.  The teams will play a round-robin schedule, and after the mandatory three-year wait, the champion will receive an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III championship tournament. Plymouth State was in the New England Football Conference from 2006-12 while Western Connecticut has been a football member of the New Jersey Athletic Conference.  PSU and WCSU were both members of the now-defunct Freedom Football Conference from 1992-2003.

            The Panther offense has averaged 374 yards and 34 points in the first two games this season, with an average of 265 yards coming on the ground.  Senior RB Andrew Foglia (Montauk, N.Y.) has rushed for 371 yards and five touchdowns to lead the MASCAC in both departments.  The Panther defense, which has eight new starters this season, has allowed 423 yards an outing.  Junior K Rob Giles (Derry, N.H.) is 8-of-9 on PAT kicks and 2-of-2 on field goal attempts, converting attempts from 30 and 42 yards.

            The Colonials broke their game open against Nichols with a 27-point second quarter.  The Bison scored a touchdown on their first play from scrimmage on an 88-yard pass play, but the Colonials shut them down the rest of the way, allowing just 165 yards of total offense.  Western is looking to make a splash in the MASCAC after going 1-28 the past three seasons in the powerful NJAC. The Colonials haven't had a .500 season since joining the NJAC in 2006 but was once one of the dominant teams in the Freedom Football Conference, going 28-4 from 1999-2001 with two FFC titles.

            Saturday will be the 30th career meeting in football between Plymouth State and Western Connecticut, and the first since 2005.  The Panthers own a 21-8 lead in the all-time series, but the Colonials won the last seven meetings from 1999-05.  Plymouth State won the first five games in the series from 1971-75 and swept 16 in a row from the Colonials from 1977-98; Western Conn. won the next seven between the two schools before the break-up of the FFC and the teams went separate ways. 

MASCAC HONORS:  Two Panthers received weekly honors from the MASCAC after their performances against Mount Ida, and both were repeat selections. Senior RB Andrew Foglia (Montauk, N.Y.) was named Offensive Player of the Week after gaining 220 yards and scoring four touchdowns, and junior K Rob Giles (Derry, N.H./Pinkerton was on the Weekly Honor Roll after booting a 42-yard fourth-quarter field goal. Here are the Panthers to receive weekly honors in 2013:

Sept. 9 K Rob Giles (MASCAC Special Teams Player/Week); DB Zach Ziemba (MASCAC
  Rookie/Week); RB Andrew Foglia (MASCAC Honor Roll)
Sept. 16   RB Andrew Foglia (MASCAC Off. Player/Week); K Rob Giles (MASCAC Honor Roll)

PANTHERS AT CURRIER FIELD:  PSU has posted an uncharacteristic 5-11 record on home turf over the last three-plus years, including a setback to Castleton State College in this season's opener. The Panthers had a 17-game unbeaten streak at Currier Field from 2006-09, including 6-0 in '09, but went 2-3 at home in 2010 and 2011 and 1-4 last season.  Plymouth State is 27-14 at home since 2005 and has an all-time home record of 146-65-3 for a .689 winning percentage. 

PSU FRIENDS TO CELEBRATE 1983 PANTHERS:  The Plymouth State Friends of Football are celebrating the 30th Anniversary of the 1983 Football Panthers, who captured the first ever Eastern Collegiate Athletic Conference (ECAC) Division III title.  The celebration is planned for Homecoming Saturday, Oct. 5, 2013, as PSU hosts Westfield State with several events throughout the day.  More information is available on the PSU Friends of Football Facebook page or by emailing psu-friends-of-football@plymouth.edu.  

PSU FOOTBALL HISTORY:  PSU entered the 2013 campaign with the 18th-highest career winning percentage (.627) 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 before departing for the MASCAC after last season. 

A LOOK AHEAD:  The Panthers will play MASCAC contests the rest of the way, including next week's visit to UMass Dartmouth.  PSU will host Westfield State for the Homecoming game on Oct. 5, followed by a bye week on Oct. 12.  Western Connecticut plays its home opener next Saturday against the 2012 NEFC Champion and 2013 MASCAC preseason favorite Framingham State. 

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