Late touchdown lifts Panthers to first win of season
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Senior Mark Hennessy (Westford, Mass.) scored his second touchdown of the day with 23 seconds remaining Saturday afternoon, breaking a 24-all tie and giving Plymouth State University a dramatic 30-24 victory over Mount Ida College in non-conference college football action at Currier Field.
Hennessy's touchdown was set up by the Panther special teams, which forced a Mustang fumble on a punt deep in Mount Ida territory with 54 second remaining. Senior Sean Kunkel (Haskell, N.J.) stripped the Mustang punt returner and junior RJ Kasper (Killingworth, Conn.) recovered at the five yard line. Hennessy scored the game-winner three plays later.
Plymouth State picked up its first win of the seasons (1-1), while Mount Ida drops to 0-2.
The outcome spoiled an outstanding comeback attempt by Mount Ida. Trailing 24-10 with 10 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter, the Mustangs rallied on a pair of touchdown passes by senior QB Jawad Yatim (Shrewsbury, Mass.) to pull even with 3:30 to play. Yatim led the team on an 11-play, 73 yard drive, capped by a six-yard scoring pass to freshman Jaleel Battle (Buffalo, N.Y.) to make it 24-17 with 6:43 to play, and needed just three plays to go 60 yards for the tying scoring, a 50-yard strike to sophomore Matt Greenman (Portsmouth, R.I.) to 3:30 remaining.
Mount Ida held PSU to just one first down on the ensuing possession, giving the Mustangs the momentum, but the turnover on the punt set up the winning score.
PSU took a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a two-yard run by sophomore quarterback Ryan Perron (North Attletboro, Mass.). The Panthers pushed the lead to 10-0 on a 20-yard field goal by senior Rob Giles (Derry, N.H.) with 4:37 to play in the second quarter.
Mount Ida got on the scoreboard two minutes later on a 27-yard field goal by sophomore Tyler Rodgers (Bridgewater, Mass.), making it a 10-3 PSU lead at halftime.
Hennessy scored his first touchdown of the day early in the third quarter on a 16-yard run, and PSU took a 17-3 lead into the fourth quarter.
The teams traded scores in the first five minutes of the final frame. Yatim scored on a one-yard run on the first play of the quarter, which he set up on the last play of the third quarter, a 41-yard completion to sophomore DJ Williams (Newark, N.J.). PSU answered with a 14-yard TD run by junior Andrew Vollaro (Higganum, Conn.), which gave PSU the 24-10 advantage.
Hennessy finished with 89 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while Vollaro wound up with 67 yards and one score. Perron completed 8-of-13 passes for 95 yards.
Yatim finished 19-of-28 for 217 yards and two touchdowns for Mount Ida. Greenman and Williams caught five passes each for 87 and 69 yards, respectively.
Senior Kyle Wilson (Dover, N.H.) led the PSU defensive effort with eight unassisted tackles, including two sacks and one other for minus yardage. Sophomore Will Perotti (East Canaan, Conn.) also made eight tackles and sophomore Joe Walsh (Taunton, Mass.) made seven tackles and recovered a fumble.
Senior Kalyn Smithson (Vilseck, Germany) and sophomores Mamour Samb (Pawtucket, R.I.) and Johnny Quinones (Hyde Park, Mass.) led Mount Ida with nine tackles each.
PSU opens Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) play next Saturday with a visit to Western Connecticut State University (3:00 p.m.). Mount Ida travels to Springfield next Saturday for a non-conference encounter (1:00 p.m.)
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