GAME #6: Nichols College (4-1, 3-0) at Plymouth State University (5-0, 3-0)
Saturday, Oct. 13, 2007, 1:00 p.m., Currier Field, Plymouth, N.H.
PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Two of the three teams with undefeated records in the Boyd Division of the New England Football Conference will meet Saturday when Plymouth State University hosts Endicott College in the Homecoming contest at Currier Field.
The Panthers and Bison will kick off at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. Plymouth State (5-0 overall) is 3-0 in the Boyd Division with wins over UMass Dartmouth, Western New England and Endicott, while Nichols (4-1 overall) is 3-0 in the division with victories over MIT, Endicott and Salve Regina. PSU and Nichols finished in a tie for third with UMass Dartmouth in last year’s Boyd Division race, all three schools at 4-3 in conference games. The winner of Saturday’s game may start entertaining Boyd Division title hopes, but both teams have yet to play defending champion Curry College.
PSU, ranked third in this week’s New England Division III poll, is off to its best start since posting back-to-back 9-0 regular seasons in 1994 and 1995 while a member of the Freedom Football Conference. The Panthers have used a high-scoring, run-oriented offense, averaging more than 38 points a game and gaining an average of 263 of their 402 yards of total offense on the ground. Running backs Jeff Mack (Milford, N.H./Milford) (606 yards, 7 TDs) and Brandon Clough (Gonic, N.H./Spaulding) (419 yards, 5 TDs) and QB John DeMarco (Milford, N.H./Milford) (253 yards, 7 TD) give the Panthers a triple rushing threat, while DeMarco (33-58, 695 yards, 7 TD, 2 INT) leads the league in passing efficiency (190.5). PSU is looking for improvement from its defense, which has allowed an average of 326 yards and 24.6 points per game. DB Mike Lannon (Sharon, Mass.) shares the NEFC lead with four interceptions.
PSU has also had solid special teams, as senior Brad Largy (Litchfield, N.H.) is second in the conference in punting average (39.4 yards per boot) and senior Chris Dopp (Epsom, N.H.) is one of the leading kickers in the NEFC, converting 26-of-26 extra point attempts and all three field goal tries.
Nichols’ 0-9 season in 2005 is a distant memory, as the Bison finished 5-4 last season and are off to a 4-1 start this year. The Bison feature a strong defense this season, as they lead the NEFC in total defense, allowing just 243 yards a game, rank second in scoring defense (13.4 points per game), and rank third in both rushing defense and passing defense. Nichols allowed just 77 total yards to Salve Regina in last Saturday’s 33-8 victory. The Bison offense, which averages 340 yards and 23 points a game, is led by freshman running back Robert Morris, who is second in the NEFC in rushing with 696 yards and six touchdowns.
CAREER SERIES: This will be the 24th career meeting between PSU and Nichols, dating back to 1970, Plymouth State’s first year with varsity football. Nichols defeated the Panthers 41-13 in the first Plymouth State football game ever, despite Al Wool running back the opening kick-off for a Panther touchdown. Plymouth State leads the career series 13-9-1. Nichols dominated the series in the 1970s, but PSU won 12 straight in the 80s and early 90s. After a 14-year hiatus in the series, Nichols was last year’s contest in Dudley, Mass., 19-14.
NEFC HONORS: Plymouth State QB John DeMarco (Milford, N.H.) was honored for the third straight week with a spot on the NEFC Weekly Honor Roll after his strong performance in last Saturday’s win over Endicott. 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)
Oct. 1 QB John DeMarco (NEFC Co-Offensive Player of the Week)
Oct. 8 QB John DeMarco (NEFC Honor Roll)
PSU AT CURRIER FIELD: The Panthers continue to enjoy success here at Currier Field, capturing 70 percent of the contests. Plymouth State now has an all-time home record of 128-54-3 for an even .700 winning percentage. PSU was 3-1 at home last season and is 9-3 at home since 2005.
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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