The No. 5/No. 6 University of New Hampshire football team hits the road to take on Pittsburgh at Heinz Field this Saturday, Sept. 11, beginning at 1 p.m.
No. 5/ No. 6 University of New Hampshire @ University of Pittsburgh
1:00 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 Heinz Field
TV: ESPN 3: Jim Barbar (play-by-play), Je'Rod Cherry (analyst)
Radio: Wildcat Sports Radio Network: Jim Jeannotte (play-by-play), Loren Foxx (analyst)
UNH: Sean McDonnell
Years as head coach: 12th
Overall Record: 81-52
Record at UNH: 81-52
CAA Record: 48-43
Alma Mater: UNH '78
Pittsburgh: Dave Wannstedt
Years as head coach: 6th (college), 11 (NFL)
Overall Record: 204-109 (college/NFL)
Record at Pittsburgh: 35-27
NFL Record: 169-82 (Chicago '93-98); Miami ('00-04)
Alma Mater: Pittsburgh (B.S. '74, M.Ed. '76)
LAST TIME OUT: The ninth-ranked University of New Hampshire football team opened up the 2010 season in impressive fashion, dominating Central Connecticut State University, 33-3, before a crowd of 7,419 at Cowell Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 4. Senior Terrance Fox set the tone by returning the game's opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown, and sophomore running back Dontra Peters rushed 19 times for a career-high 197 yards and two scores. UNH (1-0) jumped in front just 16 seconds into the game when Fox, making his first appearance since the 2008 season, registered the first kick-return score of his career. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and the Wildcats had a 6-0 lead. New Hampshire added another big play later in the first quarter when Peters burst through the line on a 4th-and-1 play, making the gamble pay off when he raced 47 yards for a touchdown. Sophomore kicker A.J. DeLago tacked on the extra point, capping an eight-play, 79-yard drive that gave the Wildcats a 13-0 lead with 8:07 remaining in the opening period. The lead increased to 19-0 with 10:22 remaining in the first half when Peters ran inside left tackle, going 15 yards for his second scoring run of the afternoon. The extra point went wide right. The scoring drive took seven plays and covered 53 yards in 3:11. The 'Cats moved in front, 26-0, with 6:23 left in the second quarter. Facing 3rd-and-goal from the three-yard line, senior quarterback R.J. Toman lobbed a scoring pass to junior tight end Chris Jeannot in the back of the end zone, and DeLago added the extra point to finish off the four-play, 30-yard drive. Central Connecticut State (0-1) got on the board when freshman kicker Steven Calitri (Gilman, Conn.) booted a 29-yard field goal on the final play of the first half, cutting New Hampshire's lead to 26-3. The only points scored in the second half came courtesy of UNH sophomore defensive lineman Randi Vines, who intercepted a pass from Blue Devils junior quarterback Gunnar Jespersen and took it back 30 yards for a pick-six with 12:50 left in the fourth quarter. An extra point by redshirt freshman kicker Mike MacArthur provided the final margin. Sophomore linebacker Matt Evans spearheaded the ferocious Wildcats' defensive effort with a game-high 14 tackles, including five solo stops and a half-sack. Senior safety John Greer added 10 tackles (five solo) and a sack. UNH held CCSU's vaunted ground attack to a grand total of 220 yards of offense and only 86 rushing yards on 39 carries (2.2 yards per carry).
SCOUTING THE PANTHERS : Pittsburgh, the preseason favorite to win the Big East conference championship, rallied from a 24-13 fourth-quarter deficit to tie the game at the end of regulation, but Utah scored on its first overtime possession to hand the No. 15 Panthers a 27-24 defeat in Salt Lake City on Sept. 2. Reigning Big East Offensive Player of the Year Dion Lewis ran 25 times for 75 yards and a touchdown to lead the Panthers' ground attack. QB Tino Sunseri was 16-28 for 184 yards and one touchdown, a 44-yard hookup with WR Jon Baldwin. Pitt's defense yielded 405 yards of offense to the Utes, who were able to convert 7 of 14 (50%) on third down opportunities.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Pitt is led by dynamic sophomore RB Dion Lewis, who rushed for 1,799 yards as a freshman last season, the fourth best single-season rushing performance in Big East history. Lewis ranked third nationally in FBS football (138.38 yds per game) as the top freshman rusher in the country. The 5-8, 195-lb tailback was honored as Big East Offensive Player of the Year and Rookie of the Year. Lewis rushed for 75 yards on 25 carries in the loss to the Utes, scoring a 3-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Sophomore quarterback Tino Sunseri, making his first career start, completed 16 of 28 passes for 184 yards with one touchdown and one interception in the season opener. Junior WR Jon Baldwin is Sunseri's top target. Baldwin was a first-team All-Big East performer after compiling 57 catches for 1,111 yards in 2009. Last week, he tied for the team lead with four grabs and led Panthers' receivers with 71 yards, including a 44-yard TD reception. On defense, 2009 co-Big East Defensive Player of the Year Greg Romeus and fellow senior Jabaal Sheard make up perhaps the best defensive bookends in the nation. Romeus amassed a team-high eight sacks and 11.5 tackles for loss last season, whle Sheard accounted for 10.5 tackles for loss, five sacks and a team-leading 12 hurries. Romeus was held to four tackles, and Sheard had five stops, in Pitt's overtime loss at Utah.
Year Opponent Score Streak
2009 Ball State 23-16 5
2008 Army 28-10 4
2007 Marshall 48-35 3
2006 Northwestern 34-17 2
2004 Rutgers 35-24 1
The last FBS team to prevail against the 'Cats was Central Michigan, 40-33, on Sept. 6, 2003.
FOX TROTS TO WEEKLY AWARD: – University of New Hampshire senior football player Terrance Fox has been named the Colonial Athletic Association Special Teams Player of the Week for Week 1, the league announced Monday. Fox, playing in his first game since the 2008 season, returned the opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown to spark the Wildcats' 33-3 triumph over Central Connecticut State on Saturday afternoon at Cowell Stadium. The 5-foot-8, 166-pound Piscataway, N.J., native added 42 yards on two punt returns and five yards rushing in the contest for a total of 138 all-purpose yards.
Fox's kick-return score was the first for UNH since Sean Jellison's 81-yard return at Towson on Oct. 3, 2009. The last Wildcat to win the CAA Special Teams Player of the Week award was kicker Tom Manning on Nov. 9, 2009, which was the last conference weekly award won by a member of the 'Cats.
BEST RUSHING PERFORMANCE SINCE 2001: In his first career start, sophomore running back Dontra Peters rushed 19 times for 197 yards and two TDs, all career highs, scoring on carries of 47 and 15 yards in the win over Central Connecticut State on Sept. 4. He added a personal-best 60-yard scamper later in the game. The 197 rushing yards were the most recorded by a Wildcat since Stephan Lewis rumbled for 258 yards versus UMass on Oct. 13, 2001.
ON THIS DATE: SEPTEMBER 11: UNH is 2-3 all-time playing on 9/11, inlcuding one of the biggest victories in school history in 2004. Facing their last Big East opponent prior to today, UNH shocked Rutgers, 35-24, with redshirt freshman quarterback Ricky Santos making the first start of his UNH career. Santos went on to become the most decorated QB in CAA history and is now playing for the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League. The last time UNH lost a game on this date came on 9/11/99, a 34-19 defeat at the hands of UMass that marked the first loss in Coach Sean McDonnell's head-coaching career, one week after he posted a win at Rhode Island in his debut. UNH has never played at home on this date.
Year Opponent Score H/A
2004 Rutgers 35-24, W (A)
1999 UMass 19-34, L (A)
1993 UConn 23-24, L (2 OT) (A)
1982 Holy Cross 0-28, L (A)
1976 Holy Cross 17-3, W (A)
LONGEST HOME WINNING STREAK IN 79 YEARS: Last week's 33-3 triumph over Central Connecticut State increased UNH'S home-winning streak to 10 games dating back to Oct. 25, 2008. The 10 consecutive home victories are the most in the Sean McDonnell era. UNH posted nine straight home wins between Oct. 23, 2004-Nov. 26, 2005. The 'Cats last loss at home came Oct. 11, 2008, to Wiliam & Mary, 38-34. The last time New Hampshire recorded at least 10 straight home wins was Oct. 5, 1929-Nov. 14, 1931, when the 'Cats recorded 11 straight victories at home. That 11-game home winning streak was acutally a 13-game unbeaten string, sandwiched by a pair of ties.
BIG EAST BEATERS: UNH has won its last five games against current members of the Big East Conference. The Wildcats knocked off Rutgers, 35-24, six years ago today for their first-ever victory over a FBS foe. Prior to that, the Wildcats defeated the UConn Huskies four straight years (1996-99) when the two were rivals in the Yankee Conference/Atlantic-10.
•UNH seventh-year offensive line coach Joe Conlin was a four-year letterwinner (1998-2001) at Pittsburgh, starting at DT for the Panthers for three seasons. He graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Administration of Justice in 2002.
•UNH defensive coordinator Sean McGowan, also in his seventh year at UNH, spent three seasons as a graduate assistant.
•UNH Director of Athletics Marty Scarano is a Pittsburgh native who graduated from Penn State in 1978.
•UNH junior TE and leading receiver Chris Jeannot hails from Moon Township, Pa., where in addition to being a two-year varsity letterwinner in football with 40 catches for 412 yards and two TDs, he also helped Moon Area HS win three WPIAL basketball championships.
•UNH junior LB John Duffey hails from Tarentum, Penn., where he starred at Highlands High School. Duffey registered 13 receptions, including 9 TDs, for 415 yards during his senior season, and was named Valley News Dispatch First-Team All-Conference as a WR. On defense, he earned Pittsburgh Post-Gazette All-Star accolades after notching 46 tackles and an interception.
•UNH sophomore DB Tyler Sargent played at Fairview High School, where he helped lead the Tigers to the District 10 playoffs from 2005-07. He rushed for 2,078 yards and 32 touchdowns on 9.6 yards-per-carry during his senior season. He also made 95 tackles an nabbed six interceptions.
•UNH freshman QB Alex Park played at Upper St. Clair HS, where he was tabbed a member of the All-Great Southern Conference and was named to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette South Fabulous 22 team last season.
•UNH freshman WR Jimmy Giansante was selected to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Fabulous 22 team last season as a WR/DB at Thomas Jefferson High School in Jefferson Hills, Penn. He was also named All-WPIAL Big 7 First-Team, helping the Jaguars to a 42-2 record during his career, including WPIAL and PIAA Class AAA championships in 2007 and 2008.
TALE OF THE TAPE:
Totals UNH PITT
Total Yards Gained 410 266
Total Offense 410.0 266.0
Rush Offense 313.0 82.0
Pass Offense 97.0 184.0
Points Per Game 33.0 24.0
Total Yards Allowed 220 405
Total Defense 220.0 405.0
Rush Defense 86.0 122.0
Pass Defense 134.0 283.0
Points Allowed/Game 3.0 27.0
Possession Avg. 27:05 34:06
Sacks Allowed/Yds Lost 2/12 2/16
Sacks Made/Yards 3/10 n/a
Total Touchdowns Scored 5 2
Penalties Against/Yards 5-45 12-75
Punts/Avg. 4-33.2 4-44.5
Turnover Differential +1 +1