GAME #6: Springfield College (1-4, FFC 1-2) at Plymouth State College (3-2, FFC 2-1)
Sat., Oct. 16, 1999, 12:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H. (WMUR-TV)
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Plymouth State College plays its third straight Freedom Football Conference home game this Saturday (Oct. 16), hosting the Pride of Springfield College in the annual Homecoming contest at Currier Field.
The Panthers and Pride will kick off at 12 noon Saturday in a game being televised live on WMUR-TV (Channel 9) in Manchester, N.H. Springfield brings its usual high-powered offensive machine to Plymouth, but the Pride is sub-.500, having allowed more than 40 points a game. PSC still has its sights set on a conference title, sitting a half-game behind FFC co-leaders Western Connecticut and WPI.
Led by first-year head coach Chris Rorke, PSC is in the thick of the FFC race with a 2-1 mark, 3-2 overall. The Panthers have been led all season by a stingy defense that leads the conference and is among the national leaders, allowing just 239 yards and 13.2 points a game, but last week it was the offensive unit that came alive with a 441-yard, 49-point effort to defeat Kings Point, 49-27. It was PSC’s highest scoring performance since a 52-3 victory at UMass Lowell on Sept. 30, 1995.
Freshman QB Matt Simpson (Auburn, Maine) threw for 344 yards and four touchdowns and was named ECAC New England and FFC Rookie of the Week. Simpson completed three TD passes to senior WR Charlie Schubert (Manchester, NH) and one to senior WR Bill Scott (Reading, Mass.). Schubert, the FFC Co-Offensive Player of the Week after making a career-high 10 catches for 206 yards, is second in the conference with 30 catches, 598 yards, and seven touchdowns, including at least one TD reception in all five Panther games.
Led by 16th-year head coach Mike DeLong, Springfield leads the nation in Division III in rushing offense, gaining 364 of its FFC-leading 430 yards of total offense on the ground. Junior QB Kevin Cahill and senior FB Jay Miller rank 1-2 in the FFC in rushing, averaging 140.2 and 118.0 yards per game, respectively. The defense, however, has struggled, surrendering 462 yards and 40.6 points per game. Springfield plays an extremely difficult schedule, with non-conference games against Bridgewater State (currently No. 1 in New England), and perennial powers Ithaca, Cortland State and Union.
THE SERIES: The Panthers and Pride have met four times since Springfield joined the FFC in 1995, and like PSC and last week’s opponent, Kings Point, the home team has captured each contest. In fact, only one of the PSC-Springfield games has been close. PSC won by large margins at Currier Field in 1995 (31-6) and 1997 (36-16), and Springfield thumped the Panthers last season at Benedum Field, 40-7, but had to hold on to win the 1996 battle, 28-23.
PSC AT CURRIER FIELD: Plymouth State has had outstanding success over the years at Currier Field. PSC has an all-time home record of 109-33-3 for a .762 winning percentage. The Panthers are 24-6 at home the last five years, and 36-12-1 in the ‘90s.
WEEKLY HONORS: Plymouth State had another good week in the individual honors department. WR Charlie Schubert (Manchester, NH) was selected FFC Co-Offensive Player of the Week and was on the ECAC Weekly Honor Roll, QB Matt Simpson (Auburn, Maine) was both the FFC and ECAC New England Rookie of the Week, and LB Sans Milbury (Danvers, Mass.) was on the FFC Honor Roll. Simpson has been New England’s top rookie two of the last three weeks.
FFC PICTURE: The conference standings are starting to take shape, but it’s still too early to call. Western Connecticut (2-0) and WPI (2-0) are the only unbeaten teams, Plymouth State (2-1) and Coast Guard (1-1) have one loss, and Springfield (1-2) isn’t out of it yet. This is the first year that the FFC champion receives an automatic bid to the Division III NCAA Football Championship Tournament.
ECAC NEW ENGLAND POLL: Plymouth State is seventh in this week’s ECAC New England Poll, moving up a spot after last Saturday’s win over Kings Point. Bridgewater State (5-0), WCSU (5-0), and Williams (3-0) remain in the top three spots, followed by Mass. Maritime (5-0), WPI (3-2), Tufts (3-0), PSC (3-2), Salve Regina (3-2), Wesleyan (2-1), and Trinity (2-1).
THE GREEN WALL LIVES: The Panthers are led by a veteran defensive unit that has surrendered only two touchdowns in PSC’s first four games. PSC leads the FFC and is among the NCAA Division III national leaders in three team defensive categories – passing efficiency (26th, 84.60 rating), scoring (26th, 13.2 points/game) and total defense (22nd, allowing 239.2 yards per outing). A veteran backfield includes four seniors – co-captain Colt Meredith (Saugus, Mass.), Jason Marcell (Stoughton, Mass.), Jeff Beyer (Bedford, NH) and John McLaughlin (East Bridgewater, Mass.), who have combined for four interceptions and 16 pass break-ups. The linebacking duo of sophomore Chris Kelliher (Goffstown, NH) and senior Sans Milbury (Danvers, Mass.) leads the team in tackles. The D-line is anchored by senior Sean Murphy (Eliot, Maine) and junior Clint Medas (Taunton, Mass.). Murphy and Kelliher share the team lead with five sacks, and sophomore LB Brian Chaplain (Hooksett, NH) has four sacks.
A LOOK AHEAD: After three straight home games, PSC takes a break from the FFC next Saturday in a tough non-league contest at Bentley College. The Panthers play three of their final four on the road, with the only home game remaining an Oct. 30 battle with Coast Guard.