DUDLEY, Mass. (Oct. 1) – The Plymouth State University and senior DB Christian Mulcahy (Norwich, Conn.) spoiled the Nichols College homecoming with a 27-14 victory in NEFC Boyd Division action at Vendetti Field Saturday afternoon. Mulcahy filled the stats sheet with two interceptions and four pass breakups, was 4-for-5 in PAT kicking, and had a highlight-reel 90-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the third quarter. Plymouth State improves to 3-2 overall and 1-1 in Boyd Division action. Nichols is still looking for its first win of the season at 0-5 overall and 0-2 in conference play.
The Panthers dominated the first half and scored on two of their first three possessions while eating up almost 20 minutes on the clock. Plymouth State capitalized on a potent running game from Dustin Matthews (Eliot, Maine) and Andrew Foglia (Montauk, N.Y.) on its first possession to march up the field, converting on fourth down at the two-yard line on a Foglia one-yard charge before Matthews completed the 13-play, 49-yard drive by punching in the final yard on the next play. The PAT banged off the left goalpost, but the eight-and-a-half minutes off the clock set the tone for the rest of the half.
After the Bison were forced to punt, the Panthers again found themselves at fourth and two at the Nichols' 20, and this time attempted a long pass, but Joey Avila's (Gloucester, Mass.) attempt sailed long.
Nichols had a short three-and-out, setting up PSU for its next scoring drive, a six-and-a-half minute march from the Panthers' 40. Avila and Matthews completed most of the groundwork, and Avila connected for an 11-yard pass to Matthews before Foglia finished off the drive with rushes of five and two yards. Mulcahy got the kick through for a 13-0 Panthers lead.
Bison quarterback Jacob Shoup (Boca Raton, Fla.) found Mark Parker (Natick, Mass.) for a 28-yard catch to send the Bison to the PSU 32 yard line, sending the crowd into a spirited uproar, but the Panthers quieted them down as the next snap was fumbled and picked up by Peter LaBreck (Thornton, N.H.). The Panthers then went three-and-out, setting up the Bison at their own 23.
Mulcahy came up big on the Bison's first play of the drive, snatching a long pass attempt by Shoup at the Bison 44. The Panthers took advantage of the momentum as Avila tossed to Josh Duford (Claremont, N.H.) in the endzone for a 20-0 lead at the break (Mulcahy kick).
Nichols opened the third quarter with renewed energy, using two plays and just 1:16 to get on the scoreboard. Shoup connected on a 15-yarder to John Sindone (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) before tossing to Davind Gonzalez (Springfield, Mass.) up the middle for a 37-yard TD.
Again the momentum was short-lived as Mulcahy ran back the ensuing kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown and then kicked the extra point to give back a three-possession lead, 27-7.
Shoup used a series of short passes to the entire receiving corps to quickly drive into Plymouth territory before connecting with Sindone for what would've been a 36-yard score, but the play was called back due to a holding penalty on the Bison.
Plymouth was forced to punt on its next possession and the Bison were afforded an extra 15 yards as Sindone was hit after a fair catch on the punt. Starting at their own 27, Nichols set up in the Wildcat formation, ultimately handing off to Brandon Green (Springfield, Mass.) who attempted a long pass up the sideline, but again Mulcahy thwarted the Bison's efforts with his second interception of the game.
Nichols made one final march with under five minutes left in the game, mixing it up as Shoup found himself at third and three at the PSU 35 before sliding ahead to get the first down. He then ran it 14 yards before the Bison found themselves at fourth and 10 at the Plymouth 15. A PSU pass interference penalty in the far corner of the endzone kept the Bison's drive alive, setting them up at the Panther's three yard line for first and goal, but the Plymouth defense made a goal line stand, stranding Nichols one-yard short.
Shoup finished the day 15-for-29 with two touchdowns and two picks on 189 yards passing. His main targets, Sindone and Gonzalez, each had 68 yards receiving on five and three catches respectively.
Avila was 5-for-11 passing for 102 yards with two interceptions and one TD. Foglia racked up 134 yards rushing on 29 carries. Matthews finished with 56 yards on 19 carries.
Mike Rubalcaba (Barre, Vt.) had 16 tackles for the Bison, while A.J. Farina (Barrington, R.I.) added 11 with a sack for loss of yards.
Mulcahy also handled the punting and kickoff duties for the Panthers, averaging 35.8 yards per punt and 53 yards per kickoff. Wyatt Huston (North Scituate, R.I.) paced Plymouth with seven tackles including 1.5 for loss of yardage.
Plymouth held possession for 42 minutes of the game, racking up 313 yards of offense to the Bison's 237.
Nichols is back in action on Saturday, October 8th in a 1 p.m. home NEFC Boyd Division game against Endicott. Plymouth hosts MIT Saturday at 1 p.m. in a conference matchup.