GAME #8: Plymouth State College (2-5, 1-3 FFC) at U.S. Coast Guard Academy (2-5, 0-3 FFC)
Sat., Oct. 28, 2000, 1:00 p.m., Cadet Memorial Field, New London, Conn.
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – A pair of struggling college football teams will both be looking to get back on the winning track Saturday when Plymouth State College travels to the Coast Guard Academy for a Freedom Football Conference encounter.
The Panthers and Bears will kick off at 1 p.m. Saturday at Cadet Memorial Field, matching a pair of 2-5 squads. Plymouth State, playing its final road game of 2000, is hoping for a victory to stop a four-game losing skid, while Coast Guard is still looking for its first conference win this fall.
This will be the 10th career meeting between the two, with PSC winning six of the first nine. The Panthers have won the last two match-ups, a 29-10 decision at Coast Guard in 1998 and a 42-0 whitewash last season in Plymouth. The last Coast Guard victory was the big 19-0 win at Currier Field in 1997 in what was a showdown between the only undefeated teams in the league and the top two ranked teams in New England.
Plymouth State has the FFC’s top passing offense with 230 yards per game, but ranks sixth in both total offense and total defense, ahead of only Coast Guard. The Panthers use two quarterbacks, sophomore starter Matt Simpson (Auburn, Maine), who is 96 of 199 for 1,144 yards, nine touchdowns and 10 interceptions, and junior Zach Matthews (Sanford, Maine), who is 26 of 63 for 466 yards, two TDs and four INTs, off the bench. Junior HB Russ Massahos (Windham, N.H./Pinkerton) leads the offense in rushing (127 carries, 459 yards), receiving (24 catches, 180 yards) and scoring (5 TDs).
The Panther defense is led by junior LB Chris Kelliher (Goffstown, N.H./Trinity) and senior S Mike Pelletier (Concord, N.H.). Kelliher is second in the FFC in tackles (83) and fourth in both tackles for loss (1.29/game) and fumbles (3 recovered, 1 forced), and Pelletier has 63 tackles and shares the team lead in interceptions (3) with CB Jamey Funk (Wayland, Mass.)
Coast Guard features one of the premier special teams players in the East. Senior Mike Benson leads the FFC in both punt returns (22.3 avg.) and kickoff returns (26.6 avg.). He is third in the nation in punt returns and 22nd nationally in kick returns.
MASSAHOS VS. COAST GUARD: Plymouth State RB Russ Massahos has had two of the top performances of his career in the two games against Coast Guard. In last year’s contest, he set PSC, FFC and New England Division III records with six rushing touchdowns. He scored from 22, 50, 4, 57, 2 and 12 yards and finished with 189 yards on 13 carries, playing just over half the game. In 1998 he registered in first career 200-yard game, rushing for 207 yards and two touchdowns.
WEEKLY FFC HONORS: LB Chris Kelliher and RB Russ Massahos were both repeat performers on this week’s list of honorees by the Freedom Football Conference. Massahos has now been on the Honor Roll three times this season, and Kelliher has received FFC honors three straight weeks. Kelliher led PSC in tackles in last Saturday’s 27-23 loss to Bentley, making 12 stops, including two unassisted and one for a one-yard loss. Massahos scored his fifth touchdown of the season and went over 100 yards from scrimmage, rushing for 75 and earning 32 with a team-high seven receptions.
2000 PSC WEEKLY HONORS:
Sept. 10 DB Mike Pelletier (FFC Def. Player/Week), WR Nate Sergent (FFC Honor Roll)
Sept. 24 DB Mike Pelletier (FFC Def. Player/Week, ECAC NE Honor Roll),
RB Russ Massahos (FFC Honor Roll)
Oct. 9 LB Chris Kelliher (FFC Honor Roll), RB Jason Bordas (FFC Honor Roll)
Oct. 16 LB Chris Kelliher (FFC Def. Player/Week, ECAC NE Honor Roll),
RB Russ Massahos (FFC Honor Roll)
Oct. 23 LB Chris Kelliher (FFC Honor Roll), RB Russ Massahos (FFC Honor Roll)
FFC PICTURE: Springfield remains undefeated (7-0, 5-0) and continues in the top spot in the FFC and the ECAC Division III New England poll. The Pride appear on the way to their third FFC title in five years, but current runner-up Norwich (7-1, 3-1) could shock everyone and share the championship with victories in its last two games against Springfield and Western Connecticut. Third-place Western Connecticut (6-1, 2-1) is also still alive, but lost a head-to-head match-up with Springfield. Kings Point (2-2) is in fourth place, followed by PSC (1-3), Coast Guard (0-3) and WPI (0-3)
A LOOK AHEAD: The Panthers return home to Currier Field to host Mount Ida and WPI in the final two games of the season. Those two teams are a combined 1-10 this season.