Panthers roll on Senior Day
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Junior quarterback Zack Edwards (Brookfield, Mass.) threw for a pair of touchdowns as Plymouth State University blanked Westfield State University, 17-0, in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) game on Senior Day at Currier Field.
The Panthers improved to 8-1 overall and 6-1 in league play, while Westfield State dropped to 2-7 and 2-5 in MASCAC contests. PSU maintains a half-game edge over Western Connecticut State and Framingham State, who will face each other in a key MASCAC game next Saturday.
Prior to the game Plymouth State recognized seniors Matt Adamik (Lee Center, N.Y.), Joe Ceraldi (Cranston, R.I.), Pat Engdahl (Sutton, Mass.), Joe Esposito (Hackettsville, N.J.), Jack Howarth (Portsmouth, N.H.), Elijah Johnson (Windsor, Conn.), Chris Kelly (Belmont, Mass.), Colin Leddy (Natick, Mass.), Kwaku Owusu (Manchester, N.H.), Andy Reardon (Rockland, Mass.), Andrew Romeo (Salem, Mass.), Jon Young (Londonderry, N.H.), Blair Zentek (Simsbury, Conn.) and graduate student Zach Ziemba (Manchester, N.H.), who all played in their final regular season home contest.
PSU got off to a quick start when Owusu forced a fumble on the opening kickoff and Zentek recovered for the Panthers at the WSU 22-yard line. Five plays later Edwards connected with freshman running back Jordan Suckow (Discovery Bay, Calif.) for a seven-yard touchdown strike.
Westfield State moved the ball in its second possession, getting into Panther territory, but the drive stalled at the PSU 40. Sophomore punter Cody Cleveland (Northampton, Mass.) pinned PSU on its own five-yard line, but the Panthers put together a strong drive.
Plymouth State pushed the ball 67 yards over 15 plays, including converting on two third downs. Edwards connected with Engdahl for 13 yards on the drive, then completed a pass to Leddy for 10 yards on a third-and-six, to move to the WSU 28. The drive stalled there, but freshman kicker Jeremy Martin (Charlton, Mass.) showed off his strong leg by booting a 45-yard field goal to put the hosts up 10-0 less than a minute into the second quarter.
WSU went to a steady diet of running plays for junior Travon Holder (Hartford, Conn.) on its next drive again moving into Plymouth's half of the field. The Owls went for it on a fourth-and-four from the PSU 30, but Esposito broke through the line for a six-yard sack to get the ball back to the PSU offense.
Neither team was able to put together an extended drive as time ran out in the first half.
Plymouth used a long drive to chew up over eight minutes of clock in its opening drive of the second half. The Panther offense moved to the WSU 25, but a holding penalty brought moved them out of field goal range. It looked like PSU might convert a fourth-and-20 when Edwards hit Kelly but the receiver was pulled down after 16 yards.
After short drives from each team, Westfield State relied on Holder again. The 5-9 back ran the ball on seven straight plays picking up 54 yards on the ground, though the Owls were flagged for a holding penalty. Holder picked up six more yards to move the ball to the PSU 24, but a 15-yard penalty turned a fourth-and-four into a four-and-19 and sophomore Jake Cassidy (Lynn, Mass.) pass attempt fell incomplete to turn the ball over.
The Panthers got a big completion to freshman Terrell Lewis (Nashua, N.H.) for 17 yards, then took advantage of a 15-yard face mask penalty to move to the WSU 24. Edwards hit junior Mitch Banuskevich (Milford, N.H.) on a perfectly designed screen pass and the 5-10 back followed his blockers into the end zone to extend the lead to 17-0.
Edwards finished the day 13-of-21 for 131 yards and the two scores, with Banuskevich accounting for 61 yards on the ground and another 39 through the air. Zentek came up two turnovers adding an interception to his early fumble recovery, while sophomore Doug Arnold (New Bern, N.C.) led the PSU defense with seven solo and 11 total tackles. Esposito added 10, including the game's only sack.
Holder alone accounted for roughly half of the Westfield State offense, as the back rushed for 131 yards on 26 carries. The Owls' offense ran 53 plays and had 259 yards of total offense. Cassidy and senior Phil Cohen (Old Lyme, Conn.) split time under center, going a combined 8-of-14 for 97 yards and one interception.
Plymouth State closes out its regular season at Fitchburg State next Saturday (Nov. 4), before enjoying its bye week on Nov. 11. Kick-off is set for noon. The Panthers will also have an eye on next week's WCSU-Framingham State match-up, as a win by the Rams coupled with a Panther victory would give PSU the MASCAC title.
The Owls are off next Saturday before wrapping up their regular season against Western Connecticut on Friday, Nov. 10.
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