GAME #4: Western Conn. State University (3-0, FFC 0-0) at Plymouth State College (2-1, FFC 1-0)
Sat., Oct. 2, 1999, 12:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H.
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – In what has shaped into a key early-season Freedom Football Conference encounter, Plymouth State College will entertain Western Connecticut State University this Saturday at noon at Currier Field.
PSC has dominated the career series against Western Connecticut, winning 16 in a row and 21 of the 22 career meetings. But the Colonials are 3-0 for the first time in school history, are ranked higher (2nd) in the ECAC New England Division III poll than Plymouth State (4th), and are perhaps bringing their best team ever to central New Hampshire.
Plymouth State, 2-1 overall under first-year head coach Chris Rorke, is coming off a 17-7 triumph at Norwich University last Saturday in the FFC opener. PSC has three tough FFC battles the next three Saturdays against the meat of the conference (Western Conn., Kings Point and Springfield), but all three are at Currier Field.
In the first three games, the Panthers have displayed a dominating veteran defense, leading the FFC in all four team defensive categories (rushing, passing, scoring, total). PSC’s Green Wall unit has allowed only 28 first downs and just two touchdowns (both passing) in three games. The offense and special teams have been opportunistic, converting three pass plays of more than 50 yards, blocking a punt that was returned for a TD, and kicking a school-record 50-yard field goal.
A potent WCSU attack has racked up 369 yards of offense per game, including an FFC-leading 225 through the air, while leading the conference in scoring (41.7 points/game). The Colonials scored 97 points in its two home wins, and has won its three games (over UMass Dartmouth, New Jersey City Univ. and William Paterson) by an average of 31 points.
Adding to the drama of the game is the return of Brent Bardellini. The senior All-Conference wide receiver/kick returner transferred to WCSU last summer after a record-setting three-year career at PSC (1995, 1997-98). He currently leads the FFC in receptions, receiving yards, and all-purpose yards, and ranks second in scoring.
THE SERIES: The Panthers have won 21 of the 22 career meetings between these two schools, with the only WCSU triumph a 17-7 decision in 1976. PSC has won all seven decisions since the two schools joined the FFC, including a 19-9 verdict last season in Danbury….The last three meetings have been decided by 10 points or less……The Colonials are 0-11 in Plymouth.
PSC AT CURRIER FIELD: Plymouth State has had tremendous success over the years at Currier Field. PSC has an all-time home record of 108-32-3 for a .766 winning percentage. The Panthers are 26-6 at home the last five years, and 35-11-1 in the ‘90s.
WIDE-OPEN FFC: It’s the first weekend in October, and the FFC race, along with the first automatic bid to the Division III Tournament, appears wide open. Pre-season favorite Springfield and runner-up Kings Point have both suffered one conference loss, and Coast Guard, picked last in the pre-season poll, upset defending champion Springfield last weekend. PSC was picked third and Western Connecticut fourth in the poll, and one will suffer its first conference loss this week.
WEEKLY FFC HONORS: Saturday’s game will feature last week’s FFC Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week. PSC’s LB Chris Kelliher (Goffstown, NH) took home the defensive honor, and WCSU’s Brent Bardellini the offensive. Kelliher led PSC in tackles (13) for the second straight week at Norwich, including three sacks and six tackles in the Norwich backfield. Bardellini caught eight passes for a school-record 216 yards and two touchdowns against Williams Paterson. PSC sophomore RB Russ Massahos (Windham, NH) and freshman QB Matt Simpson (Auburn, Maine) were named to the FFC Honor Roll. Massahos rushed a career-high 40 times for 148 yards, his third career 100-yard effort, and Simpson came off the bench to complete 3-of-5 passes for 114 yards and an 83-yard touchdown pass to senior WR Charlie Schubert (Manchester, NH), who caught a TD pass for the third straight game. In addition, Simpson was named ECAC New England Rookie of the Week and Kelliher was selected to the ECAC Weekly Honor Roll.
1999 PSC WEEKLY HONORS:
Sept. 12 QB Justin Connors (FFC Rookie/Week)
Sept. 19 PK Jesse Elderkin (FFC Rookie/Week), LB Chris Kelliher (FFC Honor Roll),
WR Charlie Schubert (FFC Honor Roll)
Sept. 26 LB Chris Kelliher (FFC Def. Player/Week, ECAC Honor Roll), QB Matt Simpson
(ECAC Rookie/Week, FFC Honor Roll), RB Russ Massahos (FFC Honor Roll)
A LOOK AHEAD: PSC remains at home the next two weeks for a pair of FFC battles, hosting Kings Point next Saturday and Springfield in two weeks on Homecoming Weekend. The Springfield game will be televised live on WMUR-TV in Manchester, NH.