PLYMOUTH, N.H. – Junior JJ Jachym (Milford, Conn.) rushed for 122 yards and one touchdown Saturday afternoon as Western New England College held off Plymouth State University, 14-6, in a pivotal New England Football Conference Boyd Division game at Currier Field.
The Golden Bears, 7-1 overall, captured their seventh straight victory to take over sole possession of first place in the Boyd Division with a 5-0 record. PSU, which entered the game tied for first with WNEC, had its six-game winning streak stopped and drops to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the division.
The outcome marked WNEC's first career victory over Plymouth State in 13 career meetings. PSU had also won 19 of its last 20 Boyd Division games dating back to 2008.
WNEC didn't seal the victory until the final play of the game. Plymouth State got the ball back on its own 12-yard line with less than two minutes remaining, trailing 14-6, and drove all the way to the WNEC 15. PSU's attempt at a touchdown on the last play was intercepted in the end zone by WNEC sophomore Phil Tsopanides (Fairfield, Conn.) to clinch the victory.
The first half was a defensive battle, with neither offense able to generate much. WNEC got on the board in the final minute of the first quarter on a 21-yard quarterback draw up the middle for a touchdown by junior Bryce Brown (Guilford, Conn.), capping a 78-yard drive.
PSU answered with a 14-play drive, but that ended with a turnover when the Panthers fumbled at the WNEC 22-yard line. The Golden Bears took over and went 78 yards on 13 plays, culminating in a four-yard TD by Jachym for a 14-0 WNEC lead.
The Panthers almost got on the board before the intermission but a 29-yard field goal attempt went wide right.
The WNEC defense came up big again in the third quarter, stopping PSU on downs at the Golden Bears' 30-yard line. And the Panther defense returned the favor early in the fourth, intercepting a WNEC pass at the PSU 22.
Plymouth State converted on the ensuing possession, driving 78 yards on 13 plays and ending up with a one-yard TD run by senior J.J. Brooks (Seabrook, N.H.) with six minutes to play. PSU held the visitors on the next possession, setting up the final game-deciding drive by the Panthers.
PSU outgained WNEC by a 309-287 count. Long finished with 127 yards rushing, one yard short of his career-best, on a career-high 32 carries.
Tsopanides anchored the Golden Bears defense with 10 unassisted tackles along with his game-saving interception. Seniors Zach Parsons (Florence, Mass.) and Brian Castellucci (Derry, N.H.) both reached double figures in tackles for the Panthers.
PSU will look to get back on the winning track next Saturday with a visit to Salve Regina University in Newport, R.I. WNEC will look to claim at least a share of its first NEFC Boyd Division crown next Saturday with a trip to Endicott College in Beverly, Mass.
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