Banuskevich runs wild in MASCAC win
WORCESTER, Mass. – Junior running back Mitch Banuskevich (Milford, N.H.) ran for 157 yards and the defense came away with four interceptions to lead Plymouth State University to a 16-6 win over Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) opponent Worcester State University at Coughlin Field on Saturday afternoon.
Plymouth State improves to 4-1 (2-1 MASCAC) while Worcester State falls to 3-2 (2-1 MASCAC).
The Lancers had an opportunity to get on the board first, but were unable to connect on a 35-yard field goal attempt. PSU responded on the next drive, with Banuskevich breaking free for a 70-yard touchdown run to put the Panthers on the board. A missed extra point attempt left the visitors leading 6-0 with four minutes to play in the opening quarter.
Junior Brady LaFrance (West Paris, Maine) came up with the defense's second interception of Lancer quarterback Noah Brum (Honolulu, Hawaii) on the ensuing possession, returning it 41 yards to midfield. Plymouth's offense stalled out, though, and the Panthers went into a field position battle.
Although neither offense was able to gain much ground, Plymouth State freshman kicker Jeremy Martin (Charlton, Mass.) was able to pin the Lancer's on their own one-yard line after PSU's second possession in the second quarter. PSU would continue to win the field position battle and junior quarterback Zack Edwards (Brookfield, Mass.) led a six-play, 36-yard drive which ended with Martin splitting the uprights from 26-yards out to push the Panthers' lead to 9-0.
The PSU defense came up with interceptions on each of the Lancers' next two drives, first by sophomore Matt Shea (Windham, N.H.), and then again by graduate student Zach Ziemba (Manchester, N.H.) as the half came to a close.
The Lancers opened the third quarter with a nine-play, 38-yard drive but were unable to put any points on the board when junior Noah Hwang (Brooklyn, N.Y.) missed a 42-yard field goal attempt. The Panthers answered with another sustained drive, going 75 yards over eight plays. Edwards found sophomore receiver Jacob Szulc (Concord, N.H.) for a 29-yard touchdown and the point after gave the Panthers a 16-0 lead.
After scoreless drives from both teams, WSU's Eric Nunez (Milford, Mass.) forced an Edwards fumble and the Lancers recovered at the PSU 39-yard line. Worcester State moved the ball down to the six-yard line, but the PSU defense held and senior Blair Zentek (Simsbury, Conn.) was able to get around the edge to block the field goal try. Sophomore Prince Gbaley (Manchester, N.H.) stopped the next WSU drive with the defense's fourth interception of the day.
Worcester State got on the board with less than ten minutes remaining in the fourth quarter when junior Dexter Andrews (Boston, Mass.) capped a 53-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown run. The two-point conversion was no good.
From there the defenses both held and PSU was able to run out the clock to earn the MASCAC win.
Banuskevich's 157 yards on the ground were the second highest rushing total of his career, and the first 100-yard game of the season for the Panthers. Edwards finished 11-of-21 for 140 yards with one touchdown and one interception, while Szulc caught four balls for 67 yards and his 11th touchdown of the year.
Gbaley and Shea led the defense with 10 tackles each and senior Joe Esposito (Hackettstown, N.J.) had PSU's lone sack.
Plymouth State returns home next Saturday as the Panthers welcome Bridgewater State to Currier Field for a 1:00 p.m. MASCAC game on Scouts Day. Local Boy Scouts, Cub Scouts and Girl Scouts in uniform will be admitted to the game for free and are invited to participate in numerous pre- and postgame activities.
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