Hennessy, Morgan post strong performances for Panthers
BUZZARDS BAY, Mass. – Senior quarterback Mike Stanton (Quincy, Mass.) amassed 260 yards of total offense and accounted for five touchdowns Saturday afternoon, including a school-record tying four through the air, to lead Massachusetts Maritime to a 46-44 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference football victory over Plymouth State University at Clean Harbors Stadium.
The game also featured outstanding performances from PSU junior Mark Hennessy (Westford, Mass.) and senior Josh Morgan (Foster, R.I.). Hennessy rushed for 151 yards on 26 carries (5.8 avg.) and four touchdowns, while Morgan carried the ball six times for 139 yards and two scores. Morgan also starts at linebacker for the Panthers and led the team with 11 tackles, including eight solo stops.
A game that featured nine lead changes, 1,047 yards of offense and 90 points saw the host Buccaneers (5-4, 3-4 MASCAC) jump out to a 6-0 lead midway through the opening quarter when Stanton connected with junior Bobby Rosano (North Reading, Mass.) on a 28-yard scoring strike, but the visiting Panthers (2-7, 1-6 MASCAC) answered back with a 14-play, 89-yard drive that was capped by the first of Hennessy's four touchdowns, as his two-yard plunge with three seconds remaining in the first frame gave Plymouth State a 7-6 advantage.
The two teams combined for three scores in the final 4:59 of the half, as Stanton found senior Keith Caruso (Hingham, Mass.) on a 12-yard touchdown pass to cap a 10-play, 78-yard drive for a 12-7 Massachusetts Maritime edge, but the Panthers responded on the ensuing possession when Morgan rumbled in from 65 yards out off a wildcat formation that gave the visitors a 14-12 lead. The Buccaneers responded with a wildcat strike of their own on their next possession, as junior Brad Skeffington (Salem, Mass.) scampered in from 38 yards out to give the hosts an 18-14 advantage at the break.
The see-saw affair continued in a third quarter that saw the teams combine for 31 points, as Hennessy's 37-yard run on the opening possession after intermission gave Plymouth State the lead back at 21-18, but Stanton struck back with his third touchdown pass of the day just 2:14 later when he found junior E.J. Bennett (East Wareham, Mass.) on a 44-yard connection and a 25-21 Massachusetts Maritime edge. Morgan struck again off the wildcat for the Panthers just over a minute later, as his 61 yard touchdown run provided the visitors with their final lead of the day at 28-25, but Skeffington answered with his second score of the day from two yards out to cap a 10-play, 75-yard drive and give the Buccaneers the lead for good at 32-28. Junior Rob Giles (Derry, N.H.) connected on a 23-yard field goal with 1:49 remaining in the third stanza to cut Plymouth State's deficit to one at 32-31, but Stanton answered again with his fourth scoring strike of the day, an 18-yard connection with sophomore Drew Girouard (Sagamore Beach, Mass.) 33 seconds into the fourth quarter, and a 39-31 advantage for the hosts.
Hennessy's third visit to the end zone on the next Panther possession, a three-yard run with 11:09 to play, cut the visitors' deficit to a pair, but he was stopped short on a two-point conversion rushing attempt. Massachusetts Maritime took advantage of a short field to increase its lead to nine when Stanton scampered in from two yards out less than two minutes later, but Plymouth State again crept back to within two on Hennessy's fourth touchdown of the contest (from three yards out) with 2:31 remaining that capped another long drive (13 plays, 75 yards) and took nearly seven minutes off the clock.
Giles attempted an onside kick that went out of bounds, but the Panthers forced a 4th-and-3 at their own 36 yard line with 2:15 to play with a chance to get the ball back when Stanton rushed for four yards around the left side to for a first down that enabled the Buccaneers to run out the clock.
Stanton completed 15-of-24 pass attempts for 203 yards to go with his four scores for Massachusetts Maritime, as he extended his school career mark with his 50th touchdown pass while tying the school single-game mark last set by Joe DeFrank against Worcester State on September 23, 2006. Senior Stefan Gustafson (Plymouth, Mass.) went over the 1,000 yard mark for the season with 171 yards on 33 carries, as he stands 229 yards shy of the school single-season rushing record of 1,339 set by Kevin Piecewicz in 1992. Skeffington (82) and Stanton (57) combined for 139 rushing yards from the quarterback spot for the Buccaneers, as Caruso hauled in nine receptions for 97 yards on the day for the hosts, who amassed 529 yards of total offense, including 326 on the ground.
Freshman quarterback Ryan Perron (North Attleboro, Mass.) completed 10-of-17 pass attempts for 143 yards for the Panthers, who also received six catches for 85 yards from senior Zac Iovanella (North Andover, Mass.). The visitors amassed 518 yards of total offense (368 rushing) and held the ball for nearly 38 minutes on the day, including 12:49 in the first quarter alone.
Plymouth State also received eight solo stops from freshman RJ Ramsden (Florence, Mass.). The contest marked the first meeting between the two schools since September 14, 1991 and was the Buccaneers' fifth in the 16-game series with the Panthers.
Both teams wrap up the season next Saturday as Massachusetts Maritime hosts Bridgewater State at Clean Harbors Stadium, while Plymouth State heads to Fitchburg, Mass. to take on Fitchburg State.
(Courtesy of Mass. Maritime Sports Information)
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