RICHMOND, VA.— University of New Hampshire senior quarterback Ricky Santos (Bellingham, Mass.) and the UNH Wildcat football team compiled 38 points and 367 yards, but it was not enough as Richmond University defeated the Wildcats by a 45-38 margin on Saturday at RU Stadium.
Santos finished the day with three rushing TDS of 2, 4, and 1 yds, while also passing for a 7 yd TD and 318 yards. He completed 30 of 46 passes and had no interceptions. UNH, now 2-2, 0-2 CAA, had no turnovers as well.
Richmond running back Tim Hightower scored the game-winning touchdown for Richmond (3-1, 2-0 CAA) at 8:42 of the fourth quarter on a 13-yard run. The Spiders added a two-point conversion pass from QB Eric Ward to tight end Joe Monteverde to give the home team the seven-point lead it would not relinquish.
UNH had one final drive to tie or win. The Wildcats drove all the way down to the Richmond 45 and had several chances to move the ball, including a long pass attempt to wide receiver Keith LeVan in the end zone, but the pass was not completed. Richmond then took a knee on their ensuing drive and killed the clock.
The Wildcats drew first blood in the game once again when Santos dove 2 yds into the end zone at 12:14 of the first quarter to take a 7-0 advantage following the PAT by kicker Tom Manning.The drive was 6 plays for 40 yds and UNH kept the drive alive on third-and-five with a long pass play by Santos to LeVan.
Richmond didn’t take long to answer, however, Hightower scored a 2 yd TD of his own with 9:07 to play to even the score following the PAT.
UNH opened up a 10-7 lead at 4:33 of the first quarter on an impressive 39-yd field goal by Manning which capped off a 13-play, 56-yd drive.
Santos gave UNH a 17-7 advantage with a 4 yd TD run after the PAT by Manning with 10:53 to go in the second quarter. It was the second rushing TD of the day for Santos, who capped off the 9-play 43 yd drive.
Hightower caught a 5 yd pass from Ward at 8:39 of the second quarter and with the PAT by Andrew Howard the UNH lead was sliced to 17-14.
Richmond tied the contest at 17-17 with 4:14 to go prior to the half after Howard booted a 38-yard field goal through the uprights.
A muffed punt return ended up in the hands of UNH corner Dino Vasso and gave UNH the ball on the Richmond 11 yd line. Two plays later UNH took advantage of the mistake and Santos rushed for his third TD of the afternoon at 2:37 of the second quarter. After the PAT by Manning the Wildcats led by a 24-17 margin.
Hightower broke a 72-yd run with 2:03 remaining before the half to tie the game again (24-24).
Howard then gave Richmond a 27-24 lead with 0:03 before the half after making a 20 yd FG.
Richmond opened the second stanza in deadly fashion, scoring on an 85 yd kickoff return by Justin Rogers with 14:47 remaining in third quarter.The PAT was good and the Spiders led by a 34-24 margin.
A punt that pinned Richmond inside the 20, a solid defensive stand by UNH and a big 30 yd catch by tight end Scott Sicko set up a 1 yd TD run by senior running back Chris Ward to pull the ‘Cats to within three points after the PAT, 34-31.
Howard kicked his third field goal of the contest for the Spiders, a 33-yarder, to open up a six-point advantage, 37-31,over the Wildcats with 3:35 to play in the third quarter.
UNH then drove down the field to tie the game with 0:53 seconds left in the third stanza on a 7 yd pass play from Santos to LeVan. The Manning extra point gave the Wildcats a one-point lead, 38-37.
Hightower then powered in from 13 yards out to give Richmond a 43-38 lead and the eventual victory.
Richmond outgained UNH in total yardage 410-367 yards and outgained UNH in special teams with 260 and UNH had 145.
Junior linebacker Matt Parent recorded one interception and also recorded a sack for a loss of seven yards. Leading UNH in tackles was senior free safety Jeff Pammer with 11 (7-4-11).
The Wildcats return to action on Oct. 6 when the squad entertains highly-ranked Delaware at Cowell Stadium. Game time is 12 p.m. and the contest can be seen live on CN8-TV. Tickets for the game are still available online at www.unhwildcats.com.