Panthers climb back to .500 in MASCAC
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Plymouth State University used a balanced offensive attack and survived four turnovers to hold on for a 17-14 win over Massachusetts Maritime Academy in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) football game at Currier Field on Saturday afternoon.
The Panthers got off to a quick start, scoring on their first possession, and junior Jacob Szulc (Concord, N.H.) added a 55-yard catch and run as PSU extended to a 14-0 second quarter lead. Mass. Maritime picked up the defense in the second half, at one point forcing turnovers on three straight possessions, and trimmed the lead to 17-14 with 7:17 remaining in the fourth quarter, but the Panthers were able to survive.
With the win the Panthers move to 4-3 overall and 3-3 in MASCAC play, while Mass. Maritime dips to 1-6 and 0-5 in league action.
Plymouth State 17, Mass. Maritime 14
Plymouth State 4-3, 3-3 MASCAC
Mass. Maritime 1-6, 0-5 MASCAC
How it Happened:
* Plymouth State wasted little time getting on the board. After forcing a three-and-out, the Panthers stormed 63 yards down the field in six plays to take an early lead. The big play came when junior David Hamilton (West Deptford, N.J.) took a pitch 30 yards up field to the Mass. Maritime 9-yard line. One play later Hamilton ran up the gut for the touchdown.
* The Panthers' defense gave up just 18 yards of field position on MMA's second possession and senior Mitch Banuskevich (Milford, N.H.) gave Plymouth State excellent field position with a 45 yard return. Edwards connected with sophomore Terrell Lewis (Nashua, N.H.) for a 17 yard gain to jumpstart the next drive, but the offense stalled at the Buccaneers' 19 yard line and a field goal attempt from sophomore Jeremy Martin (Charlton, Mass.) went short right.
* The teams traded punts over the next three possessions, but PSU doubled its lead early in the second quarter. Facing a second and 20 from his own 45-yard line, Edwards dropped a perfectly thrown ball into Szulc's hands, who caught the ball in stride and raced down the right sideline for a 55-yard TD.
* After a three-and-out by the Mass. Maritime offense, the Panthers looked as though they would add another score. PSU moved the ball 55 yards and Hamilton was about to find the end zone, but junior Hunter Leveille (Easthampton, Mass.) forced the ball out and recovered it for the Buccaneers.
* Neither team was able to move the ball through the remainder of the half.
* The Buccaneers' defense tightened to start the second half as junior Austin Stahmer (Wareham, Mass.) picked off an errant Edwards pass and returned it 21 yards, but MMA was unable to move the ball and was forced to punt again.
* MMA forced another turnover on the ensuing PSU possession, when sophomore Peter Banks (Webster, Mass.) stripped Edwards at the Panthers' 38-yard line. Three plays later the visitors were on the scoreboard, as junior quarterback Ty Ebdon (Gales Ferry, Conn.) connected with classmate Will Bennett (Sandwich, Mass.) in double coverage for a 38-yard touchdown catch.
* Plymouth State went to the ground game on the next possession, with Hamilton rushing five times for 33 yards. The MMA defense came up with a third straight turnover, though, when junior Leveille jumped on another Panthers' fumble. Plymouth's defense came up big, though, preventing the Buccaneers from capitalizing on the takeaway.
* PSU marched downfield on its next possession. Junior Nick Lancia (Bedford, N.Y.) and sophomore Ryan Milliken (Lebanon, N.H.) ripped off runs of 14 and 11 yards, and Edwards hit Szulc for another 15. Two plays later Edwards hit sophomore Max Osgood (Nashua, N.H.) for another 16 yards to the MMA 6-yard line. The Panthers were unable to punch the ball in, however, and were forced to settle for a 16-yard field goal by Martin to extend to a 17-7 lead with 12:58 to play.
* Mass. Maritime answered immediately. Ebdon connected with Bennett for a 17-yard pick-up on a third-and-five, then hit senior Paul Sances (Middleboro, Mass.) for 14 yards to convert a third-and-nine. Junior Matt Long (Weymouth, Mass.) converted another MMA third down on the ground and five plays later Sances made a six-yard TD grab to pull the Buccaneers to within 17-14 with 7:17 to play.
* The Panthers burned 2:29 off the clock with their next possession and Mass. Maritime took over at their own 20 with 4:48 remaining. The Buccaneers picked up two first downs to get to their 43-yard line, but the PSU defense held strong and Banuskevich made a key tackle to stop sophomore Dylan Lindham (Westwood, Mass.) short on fourth-and-nine.
* Lancia put the game away with a first down rush and Edwards kneeled out the clock.
Inside the Numbers:
* PSU churned out 373 yards of offense, nearly split perfectly down the middle (183 passing, 190 rushing), while the Buccaneers totaled 221 yards (136 passing, 85 rushing).
* MMA sophomore kicker George Lampros (Bridgewater, Mass.) got a workout, punting nine times for 338 yards.
* Hamilton finished with 108 yards rushing and one TD to top the century mark for the fifth time this season.
* Szulc finished with three catches for 74 yards for the Panthers, while Bennett had three grabs for 63 yards for MMA.
* Plymouth State has gone 3-3 against the Buccaneers since joining the MASCAC in 2013, winning each of the last three meetings.
Straight from the Coach's Mouth:
"We knew it was going to be a hard fought, close game," said head coach Paul Castonia, "and it sure was. To be minus-four in turnovers and still win a game … you have about the same odds as winning that billion dollar lottery. Obviously we have to take better care of the football. We did some good things at times, but then shot ourselves in the foot at others. But that's a credit to Mass. Maritime, as they forced the mistakes."
* The Panthers are back on the road for the final time in the regular season next Saturday (Oct. 27), when they head to Westfield State for a 2:00 p.m. MASCAC contest.
* Mass. Maritime hosts Worcester State in a league game next Saturday (Oct. 27) with kickoff set for 12:00 p.m.
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