The Early Preseason Outlook: Plymouth State Panthers

PLYMOUTH STATE PANTHERS

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

Our ‘Early Preseason Outlook’ coverage rolls on with a closer look at Plymouth State, which begins its season on Saturday, September 7th when they visit Castleton University for a 12 p.m. kickoff.

The Panthers’ 2018 Season: One year after posting a 9-2 record, the Panthers finished with a 6-4 mark, which included a thrilling 29-28 win over Framingham State, along with a hard-fought 10-7 win against Westfield State.

The Panthers did not compete in the NCAA Tournament last fall but certainly proved their nine-win season from 2017 wasn’t a fluke – this team is certainly capable of competing for the top spot in the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) every season.

Plymouth State had 15 seniors on last year’s squad that will certainly be missed this season – these student-athletes were a big reason why the Green and White won 9 of 11 contests in 2017, so look for the rising seniors and juniors to lead the Panthers this upcoming season.

The 2019 Outlook: Plymouth State will be without some key members of last year’s team, as well as the 2017 squad, especially on defense. Graduation losses to Grant McGregorMitch BanuskevichBrady LaFrance and Malcolm Huesman won’t be easy to replace however, the Panthers do return defensive back Matt Shea, who led the defense with 77.0 total tackles.

Defensive back David Salazar will also be a player to watch in the secondary, too. The rising sophomore averaged 5.3 total tackles per contest one year ago, while also recording 2.5 tackles for a loss of 10 yards.

Plymouth State graduated a slew of linebackers, but do return Elijah Bussell and Eric Smith. The duo combined for 53.0 total tackles last season.

On offense, the Panthers must find their replacement for quarterback Zack Edwards, a dual-threat signal-caller that concluded the 2018 season with 15 touchdowns (14 passing touchdowns).

David Hamilton returns for his final season at halfback after rushing for career-highs in yards (911) and touchdowns (eight) one year ago.

Wide receiver Jacob Szulc returns for his third season after leading the team with 26 receptions for 493 yards and seven touchdowns.

Plymouth State will also return a slew of offensive linemen, including Nick Cusano, who competed in all 10 contests one year ago, and Matt Palma, who appeared in nine games.

Plymouth State’s Schedule: We will learn more about this Plymouth State squad by the end of September – the opening month features a pair of non-conference foes, along with back-to-back conference clashes with Worcester State in week three and UMass Dartmouth in week four. Plymouth State beat the Lancers last fall but lost to the Corsairs. Can they win both conference games this season?

The Panthers will travel to Westfield State for an important conference meeting in week six before entertaining Framingham State in week seven for their Hall of Fame Game.

Weeks after their meeting with the Rams, the Panthers travel to Bridgewater State before capping their 2019 campaign with a trip to Western Connecticut on Saturday, November 16.

Players to Watch: David Hamilton (Halfback/ West Deptford, N.J.), Jacob Szulc (Wide Receiver/Concord, N.H.), Terrell Lewis (Wide Receiver/Nashua, N.H.), Jeremy Martin (Kicker/Charlton, Mass.), Nick Cusano (Offensive Line/Wethersfield, Conn.), Matt Palma (Offensive Line/Cheshire, Conn.), Matt Shea (Defensive Back/Windham, N.H.), and David Salazar (Defensive Back/West Newton, Mass.).


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D3 Football Fan Vote: Plymouth State Tabbed Team of The Week

Plymouth State TOW 101618

By NoontimeSports.com | @NoontimeSports 

After earning a hard-fought victory on the road last Saturday, the Plymouth State University football team scored an additional win two days later as our Noontime Sports New England D3 Football Team of the Week.

The New England D3 Football Team of the Week is decided by a Twitter poll, which was (and will continue to be) seen throughout the remainder of the season on Sunday and Monday’s through @NoontimeSports.

The Panthers secured a first-place nod in this week’s poll by collecting 57 percent of the votes, while Nichols College placed second with 26 percent. Middlebury College and Coast Guard Academy rounded out the the poll, finishing third (10 percent) and fourth (seven percent), respectively.

Against Framingham State, the Panthers used a late touchdown drive to push ahead, 29-28, before clinching the victory with a fourth down stop on the ensuing possession.

The win was the Panthers’ second-straight regular season victory against the Rams – they defeated Framingham State last season en route to sharing the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) crown. The win provided the Green and White an opportunity to compete in last year’s NCAA Division III Tournament, too.

Quarterback Zack Edwards concluded this past Saturday’s contest with two touchdowns, including the go-ahead strike to Max Osgood late in the fourth quarter. Halfback David Hamilton rushed for 130 yards on 30 carries (4.3 yards per carry) and one touchdown, while Jacob Szulc caught four passes for 149 yards and one touchdown.

Matt Shea highlighted the Panthers’ defense with a team-high eight total tackles, including six solo stops and one tackle for a loss of three yards. Elijah Bussell ended the game with five total tackles, including four solo stops and one fumble recovery.

Kicker Jeremy Martin tallied nine points in the win on three extra points and two field goals. His longest field goal was a 35-yard boot with 30 second remaining in the second quarter, which provided the Panthers with a 10-7 advantage at the break.

Plymouth State, which is now 3-3 overall and 2-3 in conference play, will look to continue its momentum on Saturday, October 20th when they host Massachusetts Maritime Academy at 1 p.m.