Corsairs outlast Panthers in late-game thriller

 

By Thomas Griffin, Staff Writer

Saturday’s matchup between the Plymouth State University Panthers and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth Corsairs ended in a close win for the home team at Cressy Field.

The game started as a stalemate between two defensive stalwarts, with neither team capable of putting together lengthy offensive drives. Several deep Corsair punts and strong defensive stops kept the first quarter scoreless.

UMass found the endzone first, late into the second quarter, on a series of long passes capped off by a touchdown pass to sophomore Leroy Brown. With this, the Corsairs went into halftime up 7-0.

A topic of note about the first half was the sheer volume of penalties on both sides. Calls for roughing, facemasks, and delays of game tended to make or break drives for both teams. These problems persisted into the opening drive of the second half, with several back-to-back personal fouls called on the Corsairs defense leading to a Panthers touchdown to tie the game at 7-7.

From this point forward, the once slow defensive battle evolved into an offensive firefight. Immediately after the first Panther touchdown, the Corsairs responded with a quick drive and their second touchdown of the game, on another pass from sophomore quarterback Stephen Gacloch to Brown, putting them up 14-7. As the third quarter was drawing to a close, the Panthers pocket was left wide-open, allowing Panther’s senior quarterback Zack Edwards to pick apart the Corsair secondary and drive the length of the field. Fortunately for the Corsairs, the Panther’s push ended only with a successful field goal to shorten the lead to 14-10.

The Plymouth State field goal marked the end of the third quarter, giving UMass Dartmouth the football and 15 minutes of game time to chew up. Right on cue, the Corsair ground game plowed the length of the field letting running back, freshman Steffan Gravely punch it in and bring the score to 21-10. The long rushing drive burnt down 13 minutes of the remaining quarter, giving the ball back to the Panthers with less than 2 minutes left and down 11 points.

The remaining 2 minutes were far from dead time, however. The Corsair’s kickoff was returned past the 50-yard line, setting up perfect field position for Plymouth State to score and score they did. After a muffed Panther’s 2-point conversion however, the score stood at 21-16.

This scoring drive put the game within one score, giving Plymouth State a small yet fleeting chance of winning the game. The Panthers attempted an onside kick – which drifted out of bounds, effectively ending the game. Time expired with a final score of Corsairs 21, Panthers 16.

The Corsairs will head to Danbury, Connecticut next Saturday to square off against Western Connecticut in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference matchup at 5:00 PM. Plymouth State will also compete within the conference this Saturday, hosting Worcester State at 1:00 PM.

PHOTO COURTESY: CORSAIR ATHLETICS

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