Late rally lift Panthers to first MASCAC win
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Plymouth State University scored on the first possession of overtime Saturday and then watched the potential game-tying extra point by Westfield State University go wide right, finishing an exciting 20-19 win over the Owls in Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference football action at Currier Field.
With the victory PSU improves to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in the MASCAC. Westfield State drops to 1-3 and 0-2. It is PSU's first MASCAC win since defeating Worcester State University on Nov. 2, 2013.
The Panthers, who were down 13-0 after three quarters, evened the score with just 49 seconds remaining in regulation. Freshman quarterback Zack Edwards (Brookfield, Mass.) connected with classmate Mitch Banuskevich (Milford, N.H.) with a 15-yard scoring strike to complete the comeback. The score was set up after a botched field goal attempt by WSU turned into a 52-yard fumble recovery and return by senior Mike Leonard (Merrimack, N.H.), who was able to run the ball all the way down to the Owl 12-yard line.
PSU had the ball first in the extra session and finished the five-play drive when sophomore Jonathan Young (Londonderry, N.H.) powered in from two yards out. The extra point by freshman Jeff Madden (Wolfeboro, N.H.) proved to be the game-deciding score.
Westfield controlled most of the first half of play. The Owls struck first late in the opening quarter when they put together a 10-play 41-yard drive that ended with an Erik Washburn (Lisbon, Conn.) 20-yard touchdown pass to Travon Holder (Hartford, Conn.). The PAT by Michael Orellana (Springfield, Mass.) made it 7-0.
The Owls struck again early in the second frame after Bryan Waruhiu (Dracut, Mass.) rumbled in from 16 yards out. Waruhiu's touchdown was set up after teammate Jordan Brown (Lynn, Mass.) recovered a punt by Westfield that had touched a Plymouth State player.
Plymouth State finally got on the board when Young scored his first touchdown of the day, a one-yard plunge early in the fourth quarter. A failed PAT still had the Owls clinging to a 13-6 lead, but PSU was able to capitalize on Westfield's mistake on the field goal attempt.
Edwards had an outstanding afternoon for PSU, completing 21 of 28 passes for 221 yards and a touchdown. Freshman Brandonn Drumgole (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) was a favorite target for Edwards, hauling in seven passes for 92 yards while Banuskevich, sophomore Jake Becker (Portsmouth, N.H.) and senior RJ Kasper (Killingworth, Conn.) each caught three passes to aid in the winning cause.
Senior Zack Wilkins (West Simsbury, Conn.) and sophomore Blair Zentek (Simsbury, Conn.) led the Panther defense, registering nine and eight tackles respectively. Sophomore Joe Esposito (Hackettstown, N.J.) added six tackles and a sack.
Westfield workhorse Waruhiu gained 121 ground yards on 27 carries (4.5 avg.). Signal caller Washburn completed 21 of 31 attempts for 180 yards and two scores.
Following a bye week, Plymouth State will return to action on October 17 when they host MASCAC rival Bridgewater State. Westfield is back in action next Saturday when it hosts Framingham State.
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