NEWTON, MA – Mount Ida came from thirteen points down to tie Plymouth State at 20 on Saturday afternoon at Alumni Field, but the Panthers scored four rushing touchdowns and handed Mount Ida a 37-26 defeat in the 2013 home opener.
Junior quarterback Jawad Yatim (Shrewsbury, Mass.) threw for 255 yards and three touchdowns for the Mustangs (1-1), but it was not enough to outdo the Panthers rushing attack, which rolled up 271 of the visitor's 299 yards of total offense. Plymouth State (1-1) saw senior tailback Andrew Foglia (Montauk, N.Y.) erupt for 220 total yards, including 199 on the ground on 26 carries, and four touchdowns, one of them caught on a 21-yard pass.
Senior Jake Matthews (Windham, N.H.) returned a punt for 38 yards to the Mount Ida 21-yard line to set up Foglia's only reception to give Plymouth State a 19-7 lead, prior to the extra point, with just 1:28 left to play in the first half.
The Panthers looked primed to take a 13-point advantage into the second half, before Yatim connected in the back of the end zone with senior receiver Jordan Hyman (Middletown, Conn.) for a 35-yard scoring strike as the half expired. The extra point failed as Plymouth owned a 20-13 margin going into the intermission.
The Mount Ida defense put the Mustangs in position to tie the game midway through the third quarter when Plymouth State senior quarterback Jake Tyler (Maynard, Mass.) fumbled and senior linebacker Ned Cassidy (Brockton, Mass.) recovered on the Plymouth 23. Three rushes for 22 yards by sophomore running back Melquan Pinkney (Springfield, Mass.) set up a one-yard scoring keep for Yatim, before freshman kicker Nick Muccia (Jefferson, N.J.) converted the point after to knot the score at 20-20 with 6:27 to play in the quarter.
Plymouth later answered when the Mustangs turned the ball over on downs in their own territory at the 38. A pair of Mount Ida face mask penalties and 20 yards rushing on two carries for Foglia put junior fullback Mark Hennessy (Westford, Mass.) in position for a four-yard touchdown push and a 27-20 lead at the 1:26 mark of the third period. Mount Ida countered early in the fourth quarter with a 67-yard drive that was highlighted by a 55-yard scoring strike from Yatim to Hyman to pull the home team within a point, but a failed extra point kept the Panthers ahead with 11:11 remaining in the game.
Plymouth came right back with a 48-yard drive, including a 33-yard run by sophomore tailback Bobby Whelan (Falmouth, Mass.), that resulted in a 42-yard field goal off the foot of junior kicker Rob Giles (Derry, N.H.) to increase the Panthers' lead to 30-26 with 6:53 left on the fourth-quarter clock.
The Mustangs were unable to answer when senior linebacker Josh Morgan (Foster, R.I.) recovered a fumble for Plymouth to give the visitors the ball on Mount Ida's 32-yard line. Foglia put six more points on the board for the Panthers with five rushes for 27 yards, including a 15-yard TD run at 2:13. Giles put the extra point through and Plymouth owned a 37-26 cushion.
The Panthers got on the board first when Foglia capped a 45-yard opening quarter drive with a 34-yard touchdown run to give them a 6-0 lead with 7:38 showing in the period. The Mustangs responded by marching 80 yards on 16 plays, including five completions for 51 yards by Yatim. Yatim's six-yard completion to senior tight end Mike Babich (Franklin Square, N.Y.) pulled Mount Ida even before Muccia gave them the one-point edge just eight seconds into the second quarter. Plymouth State reclaimed the lead with 6:25 to go in the quarter when Foglia rushed for six of his 45 yards during the drive to get into the end zone. Giles' kick was good for a 13-7 cushion.
Yatim finished the day going 21-31 for 255 passing yards and three touchdowns to lead the Mustangs. Hyman was on the other end of eight of those passes for 159 yards and two scores, while freshman wide out Matt Greenman (Portsmouth, R.I.) caught eight passes for 59 yards. Junior Chris McNally (Springfield, Mass.) led Mount Ida's rushing attack with 56 yards on 21 carries.
Junior linebacker Kayln Smithson (Vilseck, Germany) led the Mount Ida defense with 8 tackles, while Dominique Spaulding (W. Hartford, Conn.) had seven tackles, one of them for a loss, and a sack. Sophomore DeAndre Lawrence (Middletown, Conn.) had an interception of Tyler, who was held to just 28 passing yards.
The Panthers' defense was led by Leonard and senior corner back Jake Matthews (Windham, N.H.), who each racked up 9 ½ tackles on the day.
The Mustangs will be in action again on September 21 when they host Springfield College at 1:00 p.m., while Plymouth hosts Western Connecticut State University on the same day at the same time.