New Hampshire Football Report

Plymouth State 20, Castleton 7

PLYMOUTH – Junior Willie Lombard (Bridgewater, Mass.) rushed for 98 yards and two touchdowns and sophomore quarterback Braden Lynn (Littleton, Mass.) was an efficient 13-of-16 for 139 yards in his first career start at Plymouth State University toppled Castleton University, 20-7, in the season opener at Panther Field on Saturday afternoon.


Lombard began his day with a big gain of 43 yards on a catch-and-run from Lynn to pull the Panthers within field goal range. After sophomore Seth Disalvo (North Andover, Mass.) converted the attempt from 20-yards out, he stripped the Spartans’ return man on the ensuing kickoff and the Panthers recovered. Three plays later, Lombard scampered 16 yards to the end zone for a 10-0 lead.

Disalvo drilled another field goal as the hosts went into halftime with a 13-0 lead.

Castleton forced a three-and-out on PSU’s opening possession of the second half, then marched 64 yards in five plays to cut the margin to 13-7.

After the teams traded punts, the Panthers put the game away with a clock-eating drive, using 16 plays to cover 84 yards while chewing up more than 11 minutes. PSU took advantage of a key roughing-the-passer penalty and Lynn converted on three straight third downs, including an 11-yard scramble on third-and-seven, to set up Lombard’s second TD run.

Castleton drove the ball inside the PSU 10-yard line on its final possession, but the Panthers’ defense held, and Lynn wrapped up the win with a pair of kneel downs.

Plymouth State improved to 1-0 and has topped the Spartans five of the last six years. Castleton fells to 0-1.

The Basics:

  • Plymouth State 20, Castleton 7
    • Plymouth State (1-0)
    • Castleton (0-1)

Top Performers:

How it Happened:

  • After a defensive stop by PSU, Lombard’s 43-yard catch set the Panthers up for a 20-yard field goal attempt and Disalvo split the uprights for the 3-0 lead.
  • Disalvo got a hand on the ball on the Spartans’ kickoff return and senior Cooper Varano (Manchester, N.H.) jumped on the loose ball to give PSU great field position.
  • Senior Manny Sanchez (Hartford, Conn.) charged up the short field and Lombard finished the job to make it 10-0.
  • The Panthers extended the lead in the final seconds of the half. Lynn found junior Tyler Kayo (Londonderry, N.H.) for a 12-yard gain to set up Disalvo’s 32-yard field goal.
  • Castleton regrouped in the second half, converting a third-and-long before using a 53-yard touchdown pass to pull within 13-7.
  • The Panthers responded with the lengthy drive to put the game away. Lombard and Sanchez combined for 44 yards on the ground, while Lynn converted three straight third downs with passes to graduate student Jake Donahue (Hudson, N.H.) and senior Chris Coburn (Hooksett, N.H.), before getting away from pressure for an 11-yard gain on third-and-seven. Lombard completed the drive when he found paydirt from seven yards out.
  • In a last-ditch effort to get back in the game, the Spartans took over with just over three minutes remaining. Senior Kayden Baillargeon (Derry, N.H.) broke up a pass in the end zone, then teamed up with Varano for a game-winning tackle before Lynn took a knee twice to run out the clock.

By the Numbers:

  • Lynn was impressive in his debut, going 13-of-16 for 139 yards through the air.
  • The Panthers rushed for 185 yards, while holding Castleton to just 53.
  • PSU ran 63 plays to the Spartans’ 44, and nearly doubled Castleton’s time of possession, 39:45 to 20:15.
  • Plymouth State was a perfect 4-of-4 in red zone opportunities.
  • Sophomore Evan Wilson (Derry, N.H.) led the defense with seven total tackles, including four solo stops and one tackle for loss.


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