GAME #4: Plymouth State University (3-0, 1-0) at Western New England College (2-2, 0-1)
Saturday, Sept. 29, 2007, 1:00 p.m., Golden Bear Stadium, Springfield, Mass.
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – The Plymouth State University football team is off to its best start in almost a decade, and will look to keep it going this Saturday with a New England Football Conference Boyd Division contest at Western New England College.
The Panthers and Golden Bears will kick off at 1 p.m. Saturday at Golden Bear Stadium in Springfield, Mass. PSU (3-0, 1-0) has scored at least 35 points in its first three games, capturing victories over Mount Ida, Coast Guard and last Saturday UMass Dartmouth, while WNEC (2-2, 0-1) has split its first four games and is looking to bounce back from a tough loss last Saturday to league powerhouse Curry College.
Plymouth State, ranked fourth in this week’s New England Division III poll, has won its first three games for the ninth time in school history and the first time since 1998. The Panthers also extended their winning streak to five games, as they won the final two of 2006.
PSU features a ball control offense, with senior tailback Jeff Mack (Milford, N.H./Milford) and junior fullback Brandon Clough (Gonic, N.H./Spaulding) running the ball and junior QB John DeMarco (Milford, N.H.) running and throwing it. The trio has combined for 12 rushing touchdowns in the first three games. Mack is fifth in the NEFC with 116.7 yards rushing per game and Clough is ninth with 84 yards a game, and DeMarco is leading the conference in passing efficiency (185.6). DeMarco has completed 16-of-25 passes over the last two weeks for 389 yards, three TDs and only one interception.
Freshman DB Erich Sundberg (Plymouth, Mass./South) leads the Panther defense in tackles with 26, and junior DB Mike Lannon (Sharon, Mass.) is the NEFC leader in interceptions after picking off three passes against Coast Guard two weeks ago.
PSU has also had solid special teams, as senior Brad Largy (Litchfield, N.H.) is second in the conference in punting average (40.8 yards per boot) and senior Chris Dopp (Epsom, N.H.) is one of the leading kickers in the NEFC, converting 15-of-15 extra point attempts and all three field goal tries.
WNEC sandwiched wins over Hartwick and Maine Maritime around a loss to Westfield State in its first three games, but suffered a 48-3 defeat to Curry last Saturday. Sophomore quarterback Justin Walz (Groton, Conn.) is second in the NEFC with 268.2 yards passing per game.
CAREER SERIES: This will be the 10th career football meeting between Plymouth State and Western New England, with the Golden Bears still looking for their first victory. The Panthers won all eight encounters with WNEC between 1981-88, all by decisive scores, and pulled out a 19-18 victory when the series resumed last season in Plymouth.
NEFC HONORS: Plymouth State QB John DeMarco (Milford, N.H.) is PSU’s representative on the NEFC Honor Roll this week, the third Panther to make the list. DeMarco completed 9-of-13 passes against UMD for 250 yards and a touchdown, a 60-yard toss in the second quarter, and he also rushed to two touchdowns. Here is the list of Panthers who have received NEFC weekly honors this season:
Sept. 10 RB Jeff Mack (NEFC Honor Roll)
Sept. 17 RB Jeff Mack (NEFC Honor Roll), DB Mike Lannon (NEFC Honor Roll)
Sept. 24 QB John DeMarco (NEFC Honor Roll)
PSU FOOTBALL HISTORY: After beginning its football program in 1970, Plymouth State was a member of the NEFC from 1971-91, winning or sharing nine titles in those 21 seasons. The Panthers won or shared eight straight NEFC championships from 1981-88. PSU has the 15th-highest career winning percentage (.628) among all NCAA Division III football programs.
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