PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Senior QB Ted Larkin (Attleboro, Mass.) completed 14 of 20 passes for 187 yards and one touchdown Saturday afternoon to lead Bentley College to a 27-23 victory over Plymouth State College in non-conference football action at Currier Field.
The victory improves Bentley to 3-5 overall, while PSC drops its fourth straight and falls to 2-5.
The Falcons also got rushing touchdowns from three different running backs – sophomore Brian Whalen (Wallingford, Conn.), junior Paul Reed (Roxbury, Mass.) and freshman Andy Breda (Hanover, Mass.).
Plymouth State’s two quarterbacks – sophomore Matt Simpson (Auburn, Maine) and junior Zach Matthews (Sanford, Maine) – combined to complete 24 of 43 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns, but Bentley picked off four passes that stalled PSC scoring drives. Panther tailback Russ Massahos (Windham, NH) rushed for 75 yards and one TD, and he was PSC’s leading receiver for the second straight week with seven catches for 32 yards.
“We came out and made a lot of mistakes in the first half, and that ultimately cost us,” said PSC head coach Chris Rorke. “We had chances to win but came up short. You can’t spot a team three touchdowns and expect to win at this level.”
Simpson tossed second-half touchdown passes to sophomore Phil Pagan (Nashua, NH) and senior Mike Bardellini (Milford, Mass.), while Larkin’s TD pass was a 19-yard strike to senior Rob Haddad (Hicksville, NY) early in the fourth quarter that gave the Falcons a 27-14 lead.
“Our feeling has been that our defense has always been strong here at Plymouth State,” said Rorke, “but lately it’s been a little inconsistent. We need to clean up our errors both mentally and physically. We’re playing hard, but things haven’t gone our way.”
PSC had a chance to pull the game out in the closing moments. A blocked punt by sophomore Justin Falite (Saugus, Mass.), his second of the game, was recovered in the Bentley end zone for a safety with 1:48 remaining, making it 27-23 Bentley. The Panthers took over the ensuing free kick at their own 30-yard line, but Simpson was intercepted on the second play to seal the victory for the Falcons.
Junior LB Chris Kelliher (Goffstown, NH) turned in another strong performance for the Panther defense, making a team-high 12 tackles. Junior CB Bob Maylone (Manchester, NH/Central) added 10 tackles and a pass break-up, and sophomore LB Joe Merrick (Malden, Mass.) contributed a fumble recovery and nine tackles, including four in the Bentley backfield, in his first career start.
“The first half just wasn’t us,” said Kelliher, who is among the conference leaders in total tackles and tackles for loss. “We were flat and that cost us 21 points. We would hold them on the first two downs, but they made several big plays on third-and-long that took the air out of us. In the second half we played more like Plymouth State football, with more intensity.”
The Panthers resume Freedom Football Conference action next Saturday (Oct. 28) at Coast Guard (1 p.m.), while Bentley returns home to host Assumption (1 p.m.).
“We have three games left, and we want to win all of them,” said Kelliher. “There won’t be any quit in this team.”