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PSU Football to visit Framingham State for MASCAC contest

PSU Football to visit Framingham State for MASCAC contest

Panthers face tough challenge against league-leading Rams

GAME #7:    Plymouth State University (1-5, 0-4) at Framingham State University (5-1, 4-0)
  Saturday, Oct. 26, 2013, 1:00 p.m., Bowditch Field, Framingham, Mass.



            PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University football team faces a tough challenge this Saturday when the Panthers travel to league-leading Framingham State University for a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) contest.

            The Panthers and Rams will kick off Saturday at 1:00 p.m. at Bowditch Field in Framingham, Mass. Plymouth State, 1-5 overall, is coming off its fourth straight loss, a 56-28 setback to Bridgewater State University last Saturday at Currier Field, while Framingham State, 5-1 overall, won four in a row before a bye last Saturday and looks to remain unbeaten in MASCAC play.

            PSU showed signs of breaking out of a slump against Bridgewater State, putting 28 points on the board with solid offense and special teams play.  Freshman quarterback Ryan Perron (North Attleboro, Mass.), making just his second start, completed 14 of 24 passes with two touchdowns, while reserve kick returner Chris Smith (Merrimack, N.H.) averaged 46.5 yards on four kickoff returns, including an 80-yard burst for a touchdown. PSU features a ball-control offense that averages 254.7 yards a game and possesses the ball for more than 33 minutes a contest, while the defense has surrendered 464 yards an outing.

            Framingham State, ranked No. 2 in this week's Division III New England poll, has won 12 straight conference games… all eight in the New England Football Conference last year and all four in the MASCAC this season, including a dramatic 17-15 decision over Westfield State two weeks ago. Framingham State is second in the MASCAC in defense, allowing 292 yards and 19 points a game, while the offense is ranked seventh, averaging 345 yards per contest. Senior running back Melikke Van Alstyne was the NEFC and ECAC New England Player of the Year in 2012 and went over the 5,000-yard career rushing mark this season. The Rams won the NEFC Championship last year and dropped a one-point game to Cortland State in the NCAA Tournament

            Saturday will be the first meeting in football between Plymouth State and Framingham State in 22 years, and the 14th meeting overall. The previous 13 games took place between 1973 and 1991 when both were members of the NEFC, and the Panthers hold a 10-3 lead in the series, including a 43-0 decision in the last game in 1991. Framingham's last win over Plymouth State was in 1980, 20-7.

MASCAC HONORS:  Junior Chris Smith (Merrimack, N.H.) was named MASCAC Special Teams Player of the Week after averaging 46.5 yards on four kickoffs against Bridgewater State, including an 80-yarder for a TD. He is the second Panther to earn the top weekly special teams honor.  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)
Oct. 21 DB Chris Smith (MASCAC Special Teams Player/Week)

MASCAC LEADERS:  PSU has a number of individuals who rank among the MASCAC leaders.  Senior DB Jake Matthews (Windham, N.H.) is tied for fourth with 7.5 tackles per game and ranks second with eight passes broken up; Senior RB Andrew Foglia (Montauk, N.Y.) ranks fourth with 104 rushing yards per game; Sophomore Bobby Whelan (Falmouth, Mass.) and senior Zac Iovanella (North Andover, Mass.) are sixth and seventh, respectively, in kick returns (21.6 and 20.7 yds/return); Sophomore DL Zack Wilkins (West Simsbury, Conn.) is tied for sixth with three sacks; and junior K Rob Giles (Derry, N.H.) is third in the league for kickers with 23 points on three field goals and 14-of-15 PAT kicks.

PSU IN NATIONAL RANKINGS:  PSU is one of the least penalized teams in the country, according to the official NCAA Division III national rankings; the Panthers are ranked fourth among 242 teams in fewest penalty yards per game (27.7) and sixth in fewest penalties per game (3.7). The Panthers are 19th in kickoff return coverage (allowing 15.2 yards per return), 17th in fewest tackles for loss allowed (4.1 per game), and 22nd in time of possession (33:25). Senior Jake Matthews is ranked 28th in solo tackles (6.7 per game), 29th in passes defended (1.5 per game) and 40th in punt returns (9.9 yds/return).

NEW ENGLAND POLL:  Trinity (5-0) received 13 of the 19 first-place votes and tops this week's New England Division III football poll. Framingham State (6-1) got four top votes and ranks second. Wesleyan (5-0) has climbed to third while Salve Regina (5-1) is fourth (with two first-place votes) and Amherst (4-1) slides to fifth after suffering its first loss of the season. The bottom half of the poll includes Middlebury (4-1), Endicott (4-2), Western Connecticut (4-2), Westfield State (4-2), and Springfield (3-3).

MASCAC FOOTBALL:  The 2013 season marks the beginning of football in the MASCAC.  The conference includes six core MASCAC institutions (Bridgewater, Framingham, Fitchburg, Mass. Maritime, Westfield, Worcester) along with Plymouth State, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and Western Connecticut State University.  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.

A LOOK AHEAD:  The Panthers will return home next Saturday for the final game of the season at Currier Field. It will be Senior Day as the Panthers host Worcester State University in a MASCAC contest.  The final two games of the season will be on the road, at Massachusetts Maritime and Fitchburg State.

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