New Hampshire Football Report

PSU upends Bridgewater St.


PLYMOUTH – Junior Mitch Banuskevich (Milford) accounted for 208 all-purpose yards to lead Plymouth State University past Bridgewater State University, 17-7, in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) football game at Currier Field on Scouts Day.

The Panther defense forced three turnovers, including a pair of interceptions by sophomore Prince Gbaley (Manchester), to remain unbeaten at home. PSU improved to 5-1 overall (3-1 MASCAC), while the Bears fell to 1-5 and 1-3 in league play.

PSU got off to a quick start, scoring on its opening drive. The Panther offense moved the ball 65 yards in 11 plays, with Banuskevich accounting for all but 4 yards on the drive. Junior quarterback Zack Edwards connected with Banuskevich for a 12-yard touchdown and the point after from freshman Jeremy Martin gave the hosts an early 7-0 lead.

The Bridgewater offense drove the ball well in its opening drive as well. Senior running back Alex McLaughlin opened the drive with a 13-yard run, and later sophomore quarterback Stefano D’Emilia connected with junior Jack Lavanchy for a 14-yard hook up to get into PSU territory. BSU pushed the ball down to the Panthers’ 19-yard line, but the drive stalled there as a pair of incompletions forced a turnover on downs.

Bridgewater got the ball back early in the second quarter when senior Charles McCarthy intercepted an Edwards pass. The Bears marched down the field and a pass interference penalty gave BSU the ball at the Plymouth 2-yard line. The defense held and it looked like they would come away unscathed when McLaughlin lost the football, but senior Malik Garrett  jumped on the loose ball in the end zone to even the game at 7-7.

Neither offense could get much going over the next few possessions. With 3:04 remaining in the half the Bears pushed the ball up field. Gbaley came away with an interception on a deep throw from D’Emilia and the PSU offense took over with just over a minute left in the half. The Panthers moved the ball downfield and into BSU territory, but were unable to get a score before time expired.

McLaughlin fumbled on the first play of the second half and freshman Zac Garside (Londonderry) recovered at the BSU 23-yard line, giving the Panthers excellent starting field position. The offense struggled to move the ball, though, and PSU’s field goal attempt went wide right.

The Panthers retook the lead late in the third quarter when Gbaley returned a BSU punt 35 yards, untouched, for a touchdown. Early in the fourth quarter, Martin capped a six play, 47-yard drive with a 25-yard field goal to put the hosts up 17-7.

Bridgewater State looked poised for another score midway through the fourth quarter when the visitors recovered an Edwards fumble at the PSU 34. A pair of completions moved the ball to the PSU 15, but Gbaley came up with his second interception of the day to stop the drive and the Panther ground game was able to chew up the clock as the Panthers held on for the win.

Banuskevich finished the day with 168 yards rushing and 40 yards receiving, along with the one touchdown. The 168 yards on the ground set a new career-high, narrowly surpassing the 167 yards he rushed for last November in a win over Massachusetts Maritime. It was the second straight 100-yard rushing game for the junior.

Edwards ended 11-of-21 for 111 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Sophomore Jacob Szulc had a pair of catches for 56 yards, but was kept out of the end zone for the first time this season.

For the Bears, McLaughlin finished with 46 yards on the ground, giving him 3,033 for his career. He becomes just the third player in program history to eclipse the 3,000-yard rushing barrier. D’Emilia finished 22-of-43 for 173 yards and the two interceptions, while his top target, Lavanchy, finished with 10 catches for 82 yards. Lavanchy moved into sixth place on the Bears’ all-time receptions list and now has 91 catches in just two seasons with the Bears.

Junior Sean Peet led the Panther defense with 10 tackles. Senior Blair Zentek and junior Grant McGregor each made nine.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login