Defense hands Plymouth State first victory
CASTINE, Maine - The Plymouth State University defense made a late goal-line stand Saturday afternoon to preserve its first victory of the season, a 13-7 decision over Maine Maritime Academy in New England Football Conference inter-divisional play at Ritchie Field.
The middle of the Panthers' line held as Mariners fullback Billy Wetherbee attempted to punch it in on fourth and goal from the 1 in the waning seconds of the contest. The outcome lifted the Panthers' record to 1-2, while Maine Maritime slides to 0-2.
The late-game drama was set up by freshman Michael Fahey's 32-yard toss to Spencer Bowring, who out-jumped a pair of Panthers before falling to the PSU 1-yard line. Ryan O'Neal, who rushed for 107 yards and a touchdown in the game, punched into the end zone on the next play with 55 seconds showing, but a Mariner penalty took the points off the board and put the football on the Panthers' 6. A Fahey botched snap was followed by a Wetherbee 4-yard plunge before he was wrestled to the ground by Mark Hennessy at the 1, setting up the Mariners' fourth-down attempt.
PSU senior Andrew Foglia, who rushed for 98 yards on the day, broke through the left side of the Mariners' defense for 21 of them to give his team the 13-7 lead late in the second quarter. The defenses held the rest of the way. The Mariners piled up 321 yards of offense to Plymouth's 258, and recorded 17 first downs to the Panthers' dozen, but Plymouth's defense answered the bell at every ring.
The Mariners' started in Plymouth territory on consecutive possessions in the third quarter, stalling out on downs on the Panthers' 35 and 14. A Joel Chadbourne interception set Maine Maritime up on the Panthers' 28, but after gaining 2 yards after a pair of Hennessy-stopped plays, William Alsbrooks' 42-yard field goal attempt missed wide right.
Hennessy recorded eight tackles including one for a loss. PSU senior DB Ray Boulay posted 11 tackles, including nine solo stops to go with an interception and a pass breakup. Senior Josh Morgan had eight solo tackles and an assisted stop.
PSU graduate student Dustin Matthews started the day's scoring with a 1-yard plunge to cap an 11-play, 71-yard drive on the Panthers' first possession. The fullback finished the day with 50 yards on nine attempts. The Mariners' answered with O'Neal, cashing in on a Plymouth fumble that gave Maine Maritime possession on the Panthers' 35. O'Neal punched in on his second 12-yard run on the drive. He averaged 7.1 yards on his 15 carries.
Plymouth State heads to UMass Dartmouth next Saturday to start its Boyd Division schedule. Maine Maritime visits Fitchburg State to open Bogan Division play.