NEWARK, Del.— Junior quarterback Ricky Santos (Bellingham, Mass.) passed for three touchdowns and rushed for two, while rushing for 110 yards as he led the top-ranked University of New Hampshire football team to a 52-49 win over No. 17 ranked University of Delaware on Saturday night at Delaware Stadium.
Senior Defensive Back
Junior running back Chris Ward (Waltham, Mass.) gave UNH the lead for the final time scoring a 45-yard touchdown run with 2:41 remaining in the fourth quarter. Ward finished the game with nine carries for 81 yards leading the ‘Cats ground game, along with Santos. Santos finished the game with 281 yards in the air on 21 of 30 passing, while running the ball 13 times as the Wildcats leading rusher.
Senior Corey Graham (Buffalo, N.Y.) recovered the onside kick by Delaware with 53 seconds left in the game to seal the win for the Wildcats.
Santos gave UNH a 45-34 lead on a nine-yard touchdown run, his second of the game with 4:40 to play. Delaware then came right back down the field and scored on an Omar Cuff three-yard TD run with 3:20 left in the final period.
UNH opened the scoring with a 1-yard run by Santos after a 43-yard pass to senior wide receiver David Ball (Orange, Vt.) set up the play. With the pass Santos became UNH’s all-time passing yardage leader with 7,770 career passing yards. UNH scored with 12:53 to play in the opening quarter, capping off an eight-play 77-yard drive and UNH led 7-0 with the PAT. Ball registered a team-high seven catches for 126 yards in the victory. Ball did not score a touchdown in pursuit of breaking Jerry Rice’s all-time touchdown mark.
Omar Cuff tied the game quickly with a 49-yard TD run at 8:34 of the opening stanza and after the PAT, the Fightin’ Blue Hens made it 7-7. The play capped an eight-play 80-yard drive.
Delaware got into UNH’s red zone and scored again on a 10-yard TD pass from Joe Flacco to tight end Ben Patrick at 4:15 of the first quarter as the home team led by a 14-7 margin. The drive was five plays for 62 yards.
On a mishandled snap, Santos picked up the football started to run and tossed the football on a broken play to freshman running back Chad Kackert (Simi Valley, Calif.) who ran to the end zone to tie the contest at 14 with 1:30 to play in the opening quarter.
A muffed punt return and recovery by Delaware gave the home team the football inside the 20 once again to set up a 1 yd run by Cuff, his second of the contest with 12:22 to play in the second quarter, as Delaware led by a 21-14 margin.
UNH tied it up again on an 11-yard TD pass from Santos to senior wide receiver Aaron Brown (Central Square, N.Y.) at 9:38 of the second quarter. Santos had two key runs in the drive for a combined total of 30 yards in the eight-play drive.
Delaware tried to take the lead with a 51-yard field goal, but the kick was blocked and the team’s went to the locker room deadlocked at 21-21.
Delaware took the lead again at 10:31 of the third quarter on a 9-yard TD pass from Flacco to Kervin Michaud. The PAT was no good and UNH trailed by a 27-21 margin. The long drive was 11 plays for 82 yds.
It was not long before UNH responded and took the lead when Graham returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a thrilling TD that gave UNH a 28-27 lead after the PAT by sophomore Tom Bishop (Newfield, N.Y.). It was a career-best for Graham, who had an 87 yard return for a TD last season vs. Rhode Island.
UNH recorded its first field goal of the season when redshirt freshman kicker Tom Manning (Rome, N.Y.) booted his first field goal of the season, an impressive 41-yarder and the Wildcats led by a 31-27 margin with 5:12 to go in the third quarter.
Cuff scored his third TD of the night at 13:34 of the fourth quarter on a 1 yd dive to give Delaware a 33-31 advantage after the made PAT. The drive was 16 plays, 71 yards and took 6:29 off the clock.
Santos broke free on another broken play that was almost a sack and completed a 13-yard TD pass to Ward at 10:54 of the fourth quarter and UNH snatched a four-point lead (38-34) on a 7 play 80 yd drive that took 2:30.
On the defensive side of the ball, junior linebacker Husain Karim (Burlington, Vt.) led the ‘Cats in tackles with 14, while Graham notched 13 tackles. Senior Muji Karim (Burlington, Vt.) also had a solid night with 11 tackles, while junior free safety Jeff Pammer (Northampton, Pa.) also tallied 11 tackles and two sacks on the night.
The Wildcats amassed 516 yards of total offense, 235 of which was on the ground. The ‘Cats also managed 27 first downs on the night and converted on all four red-zone chances and that makes UNH 21 for 21 on the season in red-zone opportunities.
The Wildcats (4-0 overall, 1-0 Atlantic 10) return to play on Saturday, Oct. 7 against Richmond. Game time at Cowell Stadium in Durham, N.H. is 12 p.m. The game will be televised live by Comcast (CN8).