New Hampshire Football Report

PSU rally falls short

 DARTMOUTH, Mass. – Junior running back David Hamilton topped the 100-yard mark for the third consecutive game, but Plymouth State University fell to the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, 21-16, in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) football game at Cressy Field on Saturday night.

After playing a quarter-and-a-half of scoreless football, the Corsairs found the end zone with just under six minutes remaining in the second quarter. Senior Brad Rhoades (Epsom) returned the second-half kickoff 30 yards and the Panthers’ offense marched downfield to tie the game, but UMD followed with a TD drive of its own for a 14-7 lead midway through the third.

The Panthers cut the margin to 14-10 early in the fourth quarter and both teams followed with three-and-outs, before UMass Dartmouth put together a time-consuming touchdown drive to seemingly ice the game.

PSU answered, however, taking advantage of another huge Rhoades kickoff return for an efficient touchdown drive to cut the deficit to 21-16. The two-point conversion attempt failed, though, and the Panthers were unable to recover the onside kick as UMD ran out the clock.

 Plymouth State dropped to 1-2 (0-2 MASCAC), while UMass Dartmouth improved to 3-1 (2-0 MASCAC).

“We didn’t play well enough to win,” Plymouth State head coach Paul Castonia said. “We had too many penalties and missed opportunities. UMass Dartmouth made some big plays and we were inconsistent on offense.”

How it Happened:

  • Both team’s punters were busy over the first 24 minutes, as PSU sophomore Jeremy Martin and UMD junior Jack Droney each racked up 123 yards on three punts.
  • UMass Dartmouth broke through with 5:40 remaining in the first half when sophomore quarterback Stephen Gacioch  connected with classmate Leroy Brown  from 13 yards out. The touchdown came one play after junior Kevin Gonzalez made an incredible grab for a 37 yard gain.
  • Neither team was able to move the ball much the remainder of the half and the Corsairs went into the break with a 7-0 lead.
  • Rhoades’ 30 yard return off the second half kickoff set up the Panthers with good field position. Senior quarterback Zack Edwards took off for a 23 yard gain and PSU took advantage of a UMD personal foul to push the ball down to the Corsairs’ 14-yard line. Hamilton took over from there, eventually pounding the ball up the middle to tie the game.
  • The Corsairs came right back with an 80 yard drive of their own to regain the lead. Facing a third and three, Gacioch hit Gonzalez for a 40 yard gain to the Panthers’ 33-yard line. Plymouth State nearly held the Corsairs there, but Gacioch found senior Matt Mitchell on fourth and nine for another 17 yards. The ball got moved back to the PSU 28-yard line after another Corsairs’ personal foul, but Gacioch hooked up with Brown for a 28-yard TD strike on the next play.
  • Plymouth State put together a strong drive into the start of the fourth quarter, with Edwards finding sophomore Max Osgood and classmate Zach Swanson  for 14 yards each. Later in the drive sophomore Terrell Lewis made a great catch to convert a third and nine to bring the ball to the UMD 10-yard line, but the drive stalled there and the Panthers were forced to settle for a Martin field goal to pull within 14-10.
  • PSU forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession, but the Panther offense was unable to move the ball on its next drive.
  • UMass Dartmouth took over on its own 32-yard line with 8:39 left to play. The home team burned nearly 7:30 off the clock while moving the ball 68 yards for a score. Gacioch did most of the work himself, rushing for 37 yards while also passing for another 19. Freshman Steffan Gravely  pushed the Corsairs’ lead to 21-10 with a 2-yard dive with 1:05 left to play.
  • Rhoades ran the kickoff back 42 yards and the Panther offense took over at midfield. PSU took advantage of a third 15-yard flag on the home team and Edwards connected with junior Jacob Szulc  on the right side of the end zone to make it 21-16, but the Panthers’ two-point conversion attempt failed.
  • A UMD unsportsmanlike conduct penalty allowed the Panthers to attempt an onside kick from the 50-yard line, but the ball skipped out of bounds and the Corsairs ran out the clock.

Inside the Numbers:

  • Hamilton now has three career 100-yard rushing games, all coming this season.
  • Edwards finished 18-of-31 for 117 yards and a touchdown and added 29 yards on the ground.
  • The Panthers made use of the tight ends in the passing game as Swanson caught a team-best four balls for 24 yards and Osgood added three grabs for 22 yards.
  • Gacioch finished 20-of-30 for 236 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also rushing 13 times for 62 yards.
  • Gonzalez finished with career highs of eight catches and 112 receiving yards.
  • Martin had a big day for the Panthers, totaling 247 yards on six punts (41.2 yards/punt) and adding 182 yards on three kickoffs, better than 60 yards/kick.
  • Senior Grant McGregor  and sophomore Matt Tosone led the defense with seven solo tackles and nine total tackles each.
  • Entering play the Panthers held an 11-8 advantage in head-to-head match-ups with the Corsairs. PSU picked up wins in 2016 (30-14) and 2017 (37-7) to break up a string of five straight UMD wins.

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