PLYMOUTH, N.H. -- The visiting Bridgewater State University football team dropped a 17-7 decision to Plymouth State University in a Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) contest on Saturday afternoon at Currier Field.
The host Panthers improve to 5-1 on the season and 3-1 in the MASCAC, while the Bears fall to 1-5 overall and 1-3 in conference play. Plymouth State is now 18-13-1 all-time against Bridgewater State.
Junior running back Mitch Banuskevich (Milford, N.H.) rushed for 168 yards on 31 carries and added six receptions for 40 yards and a touchdown to highlight the win.
Banuskevich grabbed a 12-yard touchdown pass from junior quarterback Zack Edwards (Brookfield, Mass.) to give the Panthers a 7-0 lead midway through the first quarter. The TD reception capped off an 11-play, 65-yard drive to open the game.
The Bears knotted the score at 7-7 with 10:12 remaining in the second quarter as senior back Malik Garrett (Dorchester, Mass.) recovered a BSU offensive fumble in the end zone for a touchdown. The scoring drive lasted 12 plays and went for 56 yards.
That would be all the scoring in the first half as the two teams headed to the locker-room with the score tied.
A 35-yard punt return for a touchdown by sophomore Prince Gbaley (Manchester, N.H.) following a short 11-yard punt in the third quarter would prove to be the difference in the game. The Panthers added a 25-yard field goal by freshman kicker Jeremy Martin (Charlton, Mass.) early in the fourth quarter to put the finishing touches on the 17-7 victory.
BSU junior wide receiver Jack Lavanchy (Walpole, Mass.) paced the BSU offense with ten receptions for 82 yards. With his ten catches, Lavanchy moved into sixth place on the Bears' all-time receptions list. Lavanchy has 91 receptions in just two seasons with the Bears. He leap-frogged former standouts Mark Hull (83 rec.), BSU Hall of Famer Ron McCarthy (85 rec.), Ben Bascon (87 rec.) and Dukens Leon (88 rec.).
Senior running back Alex McLaughlin (Littleton, Mass.) rushed for 46 yards on 19 carries. McLaughlin became just the third player in BSU football history to eclipse the 3,000-yard rushing barrier. He now has 3,033 rushing yards in four seasons with the Bears.
The BSU offense was held in check all game long as the Bears managed just 43 yards on the ground and 216 yards of total offense. The Panther defense forced three turnovers including a pair of interceptions.
Along with his punt return for a touchdown, Gbaley also picked off two passes, broke up four and registered seven solo tackles.
Senior linebacker Charles McCarthy (North Reading, Mass.) led a solid defensive effort for the Bears. McCarthy notched 11 tackles (five solo) and recorded his first interception of the season and fourth of his career. The interception led to BSU's only score on the day.
The BSU defense forced two turnovers and limited the Panthers to 111 passing yards.
The Bears are back in action next Friday night when they travel to UMass Dartmouth for a seven o'clock MASCAC game with the Corsairs.