Turnover costs PSU a victory
NORTH DARTMOUTH, Mass. - Senior defensive back Joune Fraser picked up a fumble and raced 88 yards for a touchdown on the next to last play of the third quarter Saturday night, and that proved to be the difference as the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth held on to defeat Plymouth State University, 23-21, at Cressy Field in the New England Football Conference Boyd Division opener for both teams.
The Panthers had three possessions in the fourth quarter with a chance to regain the lead. An 18-play drive that took more than 10 minutes off the clock ended with a missed field goal attempt. The Panther defense then forced two punts on three-and-outs in the final five minutes but both times the UMD defense stopped PSU on fourth down on the ensuing possession.
Plymouth State led the game the duration of the first half, including a 14-0 margin early in the second quarter. UMD rallied, kicking a 45-yard field goal on the last play of the first half to cut PSU's margin to 21-16. The Panthers were driving late in the third quarter, and had moved 74 yards in 11 plays to the Corsair 16 when Fraser's fumble return gave the Corsairs their first lead and ended up as the final points of the day.
The Panther offense ran a whopping 80 plays (65 rushing) in the game, gaining 334 yards of total offense and possessing the ball for 44 minutes. The PSU defense held the Corsairs to 181 yards on 47 plays.
PSU graduate student Dustin Matthews scored the only touchdown in the first quarter, running it in from the 2 to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead. Junior quarterback Jake Tyler connected with senior Nick Cavallo on a 28-yard touchdown pass early in the second quarter to put the visitors up 14-0.
UMD got on the board on a 55-yard pass from Patrick Orlando to Abiola Abonshade, but PSU blocked the extra-point attempt. The Corsairs pulled to with one point on an 11-yard TD run by Orlando midway through the second quarter, but Tyler hit junior Zac Iovanella on a 16-yard scoring strike with 1:27 on the clock to pull ahead 21-13.
Edgar Osols booted the 45-yard field goal on the last play of the first half as Orlando led UMD for 44 yards in eight plays in the final 1:27 to score the pivotal points and make it a 21-16 halftime score.
Tyler finished 7 for 15 for 105 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 51 yards. Senior Andrew Foglia gained 91 yards on 24 carries.
Senior linebacker Josh Morgan led the Panther defense with eight tackles, including six solo stops and two tackles in the UMD backfield. Sophomore Mark Hennessy made seven tackles and recorded his first interception of the season.
PSU, 1-3 overall and 0-1 in the conference, returns home to host Nichols College in its Homecoming game next Saturday.