No. 8 New Hampshire football rolls past Rhode Island, 53-9

Wildcats score seven first-half touchdowns

Corey Graham

DURHAM, N.H. -- Ricky Santos (Bellingham, Mass.) threw four touchdown passes to lead the eighth-ranked University of New Hampshire football team to Saturday afternoon's 53-9 Atlantic 10 victory against the University of Rhode Island in UNH's Homecoming Game, a quagmire at Cowell Stadium.

UNH improved to 5-1 overall and 3-1 in Atlantic 10 while URI lost its fourth consecutive game to fall to 3-4, 1-3.

Corey Graham (Buffalo, N.Y.) returned the opening kickoff down the right sideline 87 yards for a touchdown to quickly give the Wildcats a 7-0 lead and set the tone for the remainder of the half. UNH's offense scored seven touchdowns on 10 first-half possessions and the 'Cats outgained the Rams 501-232 yards, including a 265-72 advantage in kickoff (107 yards), punt (78) and fumble (80) returns.

Santos finished the half -- and the game -- 12-for-13 for 134 yards with touchdown strikes to David Ball (Orange, Vt.; 19 yards), Michael Boyle (Plymouth, N.H.; 24-yd) Jon Williams (Rochester, N.Y.; 1-yd) and Matt Henry ( Cresskill, N.J.; 28-yd). Santos also rushed for 33 yards on six carries, and Boyle scored another touchdown on a 71-yard punt return down the right sideline.

New Hampshire led 34-0 1:26 into the second quarter before a 29-yard field goal by URI's Colin Gallagher put the Rams on the scoreboard at 6:35. On URI's next possession, UNH's Mark Rutberg (White Plains, N.Y.) forced a fumble, Baron Flenory (Pittsburgh, Pa.) picked up the ball at the UNH 20-yard line and raced down the right sideline for a touchdown to give the 'Cats a 41-3 advantage.

Trailing 47-3 at halftime, URI scored a touchdown on a 2-yard run by Andrew Varner and failed on the 2-point conversion to close within 47-9. UNH closed the game scoring at 2:51 of the third quarter on a 14-yard pass play from Bruce Elia (Tenafly, N.J.) to Evan Loring (Chocura, N.H.). Elia quarterbacked the 'Cats in the second half and was 2-for-2 for 28 yards.

URI's offense was led by Jimmy Hughes, who amassed all of his 118 rushing yards in the second half. John McCoy (Groton, Conn.) led the Wildcats' ground game with 39 yards on 11 carries -- all in the first half. Chris Ward (Waltham, Mass.) had 11 carries for 32 yards. UNH's top receiver was Ball, who had four receptions for 43 yards.

A steady, heavy rain produced muddy playing conditions and 16 fumbles. URI fumbled 11 times and retained possession five times, and the Wildcats lost three of their five fumbles.

UNH returns to action Oct. 22 at home vs. Northeastern University. The game, which will be broadcast live by CN8 TV at Cowell Stadium, kicks off at 12 p.m.

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