Western New England College visits Plymouth in NEFC Boyd Division showdown
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – Western New England College looks to
continue its remarkable season against Plymouth State in a showdown
of the top teams in the New England Football Conference (NEFC) Boyd
Division at 1:00 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 23) at Currier Field in
Plymouth, New Hampshire.
Both teams enter the highly anticipated contest with overall records of 6-1 and 4-0 marks in division play. Each squad also jumped two places in the weekly New England Division III Coaches Poll as Plymouth moved to fifth and WNEC seventh (its highest ranking ever).
Western New England College enters the contest with a school-record six-game winning streak after posting a 27-10 decision over MIT.
Junior quarterback Bryce Brown (Guilford, CT) had another big play after compiling 224 yards (113 passing, season high 111 rushing) with two touchdown runs of 35 (on fourth-down) and three yards. The highly-regarded Golden Bears' defense held the Engineers to 269 yards (66 rushing) and no points in the second half. Freshman defensive end Kevin Soule (Medfield, MA) had a team best eight tackles, including a sack. Both Brown and Soule made the weekly NEFC honor roll for their performances.
"We battled back in the second held after a not so stellar first half. I would like to see us have a faster start, especially this week against Plymouth," said Western New England College coach Keith Emery.
The latest NEFC stats list Brown fifth in the league in total offense (145.0 avg.) and second in pass efficiency (136.2 rating). Junior receiver Kenny Muhlack (Groton, CT) is tied for sixth with 30 receptions for 313 yards while junior running back JJ Jachym (Milford, CT) is ninth with 557 yards rushing (79.6 avg.). Senior kicker Jake Field (Long Valley, NJ) is third in punting (37.8 avg.) and fourth in scoring (29 points), but is now out for the season with an injury.
Western New England College has six players with 25 or more tackles with sophomore free safety Phil Tsopanides (Fairfield, CT) (43 stops), and senior linebackers Justin Bailey (Northborough, MA) (41) and Dylan Chandler (Durham, ME) (38) leading the way.
With only three games left in the regular season, Emery and his team know full well the significance of Saturday's battle with Plymouth who has won all 12 meetings against the Golden Bears starting with a 29-0 shutout win in WNEC's inaugural NCAA Division III season 30 years ago in 1981.
"It's probably the biggest game in school history, at least since I've been here," stated Emery. "We are handling it just like any other game. We need to prepare mentally and physically for their punishing ground game and stout defense. We have to find a way to stop quarterback J.J. Brooks and how to get some yards against their run defense. With Jake Field out for the season, we concerned about our special teams."
Plymouth State stayed unbeaten in the division with a 10-3 home win over Endicott who also had an unbeaten mark in the division entering the game.
Senior quarterback J.J. Brooks (Seabrook, NH) is having a terrific season with 516 yards passing (three TDs) and 321 yards rushing (four scores). Sophomore running back Ty Long (Dover, NH) leads the squad with 567 yards rushing with a touchdown.
Last year Brooks completed 9-of-13 passes for 145 yards and three touchdowns while running for 77 yards and another score in the Panthers' 38-21 home win over the Golden Bears. Long, meanwhile, added 107 yards on the ground and a touchdown.
Senior linebackers Brian Castelucci (Derry, NH) and Steve Campbell (Northborough, MA) lead the team with 53 and 34 tackles, respectively.
Both Western New England College and Plymouth State ranks high in the NEFC rankings, especially in the defensive categories.
PSU is first in scoring defense (10.6) and total defense (221.4 avg.) while Western New England College is third in both categories (14.1 and 261.9). The Panthers are second in rushing defense (91.3), the Golden Bears third (120.6). Western New England College is second in rushing offense (218.0) with Plymouth third (214.0).
Another interesting stat is that Plymouth and Western New England College are first (36:48) and third (32:08), respectively, in time of possession.