Springfield, Mass. - November 21, 2009 - Led by Most Outstanding Player Josh Carter (see photo below with Springfield College President Richard B. Flynn), the Springfield College football team, in the College's 1000th game, bettered a pair of old school records in defeating Plymouth State University, 42-13, in the ECAC Northeast Championship Bowl on Saturday afternoon at Amos Alonzo Stagg Field. In the process, SC Head Coach Mike DeLong won his 150th game at Springfield. The Pride is now 3-0 in ECAC Championship games.
With the win, Springfield ended its season at 8-2, while Plymouth State finished at 8-3.
Springfield College has been playing football since 1890. With the win, Saturday's game elevated the College's all-time football record to 517-428-55 -- making it an even 1000 games.
Carter, a sophomore quarterback from Marlborough, Mass., led the Pride offensively with 67 yards rushing, plus one touchdown, and with a career-high 179 yards passing and two touchdowns, including a school record 88-yarder to junior halfback Antoine King (Boston, Mass.) in the third quarter. Carter was 6-of-9 in the passing department.
But Carter's biggest play may have been a tackle he made in the first quarter. Springfield had just driven to the Plymouth State 21, when King fumbled the ball trying to sweep around left end. PSU junior LB Brian Castellucci (Derry, N.H.) picked up the ball and was being escorted down the field by two blockers for what appeared to be a sure touchdown. But Carter did not give up, and fought his way through the blockers to make the tackle at the SC 10-yard line. Three plays later, on a third-and-goal from the 10, Springfield senior free safety Jarred Burrell (Warwick, R.I.) intercepted a ball in the flat right at the goal line, and ran it back 100 yards for the longest interception return in Springfield College history, breaking an 82-year old school record. With the extra point booted by freshman kicker Ricky Peacock (Tucker, Ga.) (Peacock was 6-for-6 in extra points on the day), SC led 7-0.
The 82-year old school record for longest interception return had been held by Paavo Atlin versus Cooper Union in 1927 in a game won by Springfield, 63-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, the Panthers fumbled with freshman DeAndre Lawrence (Middletown, Conn.) recovering at the PSU 22. Two plays later, sophomore HB Mark Safer (St. Johns, Fla.) went around left end for a 16-yard TD. And with 2:58 left in the first quarter, the Pride led, 14-0. SC had scored two touchdowns in the space of 40 seconds.
The Panthers really came to life on the very next drive. The six-play, 46-yard march was capped off by a 27-yard TD pass from junior QB J.J. Brooks (Seabrook, N.H.) to junior WR John Creamer (Hanover, N.H.) on a very nice crossing pattern. Sophomore K Chris Mulcahy's (Norwich, Conn.) extra point closed the margin to 14-7 just one play into the second quarter (14:54 left).
But Springfield would score the next 28 points, including three TD's during the remainder of the second period. The first of those touchdowns came just 1:26 after Creamer had scored. It took four plays to travel 54 yards, the final 35 coming on a fancy run by Carter, as he tip-toed down the left sideline, making it 21-7.
Later in the quarter, senior FB Baldwin Cunningham (Manchester, Conn.) ran one in from 15 yards out, finishing a five-play, 44-yard march. That made it 28-7, Springfield, with 7:49 left in the quarter.
What happened next had to be considered a bonus for the Pride. Plymouth State punted the ball away with about 30 seconds left, and SC returned it to its own 39. Carter completed two passes, including one to junior WR Tim Brady (Southbury, Conn.) to the PSU 37 with five seconds left. DeLong immediately called time out. On the half's final play, Carter threw a pass into the end zone, looking for either Brady or Burrell, the normal free safety who came in to play offense. The play was defended well, as it was batted twice by Plymouth State defenders. But on the second batted attempt, the ball was directed right into the hands of a flying King, who came in late, and gladly accepted the unexpected TD. The extra point gave SC a 35-7 lead at the half.
To start the second half, Plymouth State marched the ball 67 yards on 14 plays, chewing up eight minutes and nine seconds, but eventually coming away with nothing. A first-and-goal from the SC seven yard line eventually turned into a second-and-four, then third-and-one, and a fourth-and-one. But SC made a terrific goal-line stand.
A first-down play from SC's own 12 yard line a few moments later again turned into history. Carter found the starring King on a pass over the middle that King turned into an 88-yard touchdown play as he too tip-toed down the right sideline for the last 60 yards, breaking tackles, spinning out of trouble, and eventually scoring. That play made it 42-7 with 4:54 left in the third quarter. It also broke the longest pass play record in school history. The record had been 85 yards, set first by Dave Bennett to George Wolfert versus Amherst in 1964, and then by Gene DeFilippo (the present Director of Athletics at Boston College) to Oliver Wilson versus Southern Connecticut in 1971. That 99-yard, 4-play drive took 1:51 off the clock.
Plymouth State closed the scoring with 5:08 left in the fourth quarter. A one-yard run by junior FB Jon Brennan (Worcester, Mass.) culminated a 9-play, 66-yard drive. PSU went for two, but a pass failed.
The game took just two hours and 15 minutes. Springfield gained 454 yards overall to Plymouth State's 277. SC rushed for 285 yards, while PSU rushed for 217. The Pride passed for a season-high 179 yards, while the Panthers passed for 60 yards. Each team attempted nine passes. Springfield punted twice, while PSU punted three times. Time of possession was heavily in PSU's favor, 37:24 to 22:36.
For PSU, Brooks ran for a game-high 96 yards on 26 carries. Freshman FB Michael Malia (Waterford, Conn.) ran for 54 yards on 11 carries. Brooks was 3-for-9 for 60 yards with one interception. He was sacked twice. Creamer's TD of 27 yards was Brooks' longest completion of the day.
For SC, Cunningham ran for 81 yards and one TD on 13 carries (6.2 avg.), while Carter ran for 67 yards and one TD on nine carries (7.4 avg.). Carter went 6-for-9 for a career-best 179 yards and two TDs passing. Safer added 52 yards and one TD rushing on seven carries (7.4 avg.). King finished with 125 yards and two TDs on just two receptions.
On defense for Plymouth State, junior DB Dan Kelly (Londonderry, N.H.) led his squad with 11 tackles, plus one forced fumble. Junior DB Zach Parsons (Florence, Mass.) finished with eight tackles.
For SC, freshman ILB Matt Pieterse (Springfield, Mass.) led all tacklers with 16. He finished with 84 tackles on the season to lead his team. Senior ILB Ken Goodwin (Foxboro, Mass.) had nine tackles, and finished with a team second-best 78 for the season.