Lancers escape with win in wild affair
PLYMOUTH, N.H. - Worcester State University's Noah Hwang (Brooklyn, N.Y.) kicked a 23-yard field goal on the first possession in overtime Saturday and the Lancers held off Plymouth State University to gain a thrilling 30-27 win in Massachusetts State College Athletic Conference football action at Currier Field.
The Panthers chance to win the game was thwarted by WSU when Bennett Morgan (Springfield, Mass.) intercepted Panther quarterback Connor DiCesare (Hampton, N.H.) at the one-yard line to preserve the victory. With the win Worcester State improves to 3-5 overall and 3-3 in the MASCAC. Plymouth State falls to 2-6 and 1-5.
Plymouth State struck first in this contest when Zach Ziemba (Manchester, N.H.) blocked a punt on WSU's first possession of the game then he recovered the ball and trotted 15 yards into the end zone. A missed PAT resulted in a 6-0 Panther advantage.
It then looked as though the Lancers might run away with this contest. WSU used just three plays to score 20 unanswered second quarter points and taking command of the game.
Kemani Jones (Milton, Mass.) started things off for the visitors when he powered in from five yards on the first play of the second quarter. That play was set up when Jones caught a 24-yard pass from Trevor Vasey (Cumberland, R.I.) that put the ball on the Panther five-yard line. On its very next possession, Lancer running back Dana Valentine (Roxbury, Mass.) exploded for a 54-yard touchdown run and after stopping the Panthers in four plays struck again when Vasey heaved a 75-yard scoring strike to wide receiver Matt Thall (Marlborough, Mass.). Hwang was 2 for 3 on extra tries during that scoring run.
The Panthers made a game of it before the intermission when Tyler Mahoney (Dracut, Mass.) finished a 5-play, 69-yard drive with a one-yard plunge into the end zone. PSU went to its bag of tricks to set up that score when wide out Brandonn Drumgole (Mt. Sinai, N.Y.) threw a flee flicker 59-yards to RJ Kasper (Killingworth, Conn.) that gave PSU the ball on the Lancer 10-yard line.
PSU continued its pressure the first possession after the break, putting together a workman-like 13-play drive that used up almost nine minutes and concluded when DiCesare found Mitch Banuskevich (Milford, N.H.) from nine yards out. A missed PAT left the Panthers down 20-19.
Plymouth State surged ahead midway through the fourth quarter when Banuskevich found pay dirt from 10-yards out. DiCesare connected with Chris Kelly (Belmont, Mass.) on a two-point conversion and a brief 27-20 advantage.
Undaunted, the Lancers came right back on the ensuing possession by getting the equalizer after Jones rushed for a one-yard touchdown with just over three minutes to play.
PSU tried to end the game in regulation but the Lancers defense stopped the Panther on fourth and two from the 32-yard line.
Jones led the winners with 151 yards rushing to go along with two scores. He also hauled in eight passes for 71 yards. Vasey had a nice afternoon, completing 24 of 39 passes for 274 yards and a touchdown while Valentine (rushed for 72 yards on just five carries.
Ziemba was all over the field for the Panthers, swiping two Vasey passes for 24 yards to go along with the blocked kick, touchdown and eight tackles. Sam Bellamy (Keyport, N.J.) had a good day on defense, recording 11 tackles. DiCesare completed 12 of 19 passes for 140 yards while Banuskevich led the Panthers in rushing yardage (49 yds./7 att.) and receptions (6 for 74 yards).
Plymouth State hits the road next week for a conference game at Mass Maritime. Worcester State looks for its fourth win in-a-row when it hosts Westfield State.
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