SIX INTERCEPTIONS SPEARHEAD FOOTBALL'S 17-0 HOMECOMING SHUTOUT OF RICHMOND
DURHAM, N.H. – Senior safety John Greer (Buffalo, N.Y.) grabbed two of the UNH football team's six interceptions, returning his first pick 40 yards for a touchdown, and the 22nd-ranked Wildcats recorded their school-record 12th consecutive home victory by shutting out No. 11 Richmond 17-0 Saturday afternoon before a Homecoming crowd of 12,095 at Cowell Stadium.
Senior safety Mike Perkins (Hingham, Mass.) also notched two interceptions for UNH (3-3, 1-2 Colonial Athletic Association), while junior cornerback Kyle Flemings (Forty Fort, Pa.) and senior cornerback Dino Vasso (Crum Lynne, Pa.) each recorded his third interception of the season for a Wildcats' defense that posted its first shutout since a 56-0 triumph over Iona on Nov. 12, 2005. The loss snapped an 11-game FCS road winning streak for Richmond (2-3, 0-2).
UNH continually harassed Richmond backup quarterback Nick Hicks, who finished the day 9-for-27 for 64 yards and five interceptions after replacing injured starter Aaron Corp (2 of 3, INT, seven yards) following the Spiders' first offensive series.
That first series ended with the Wildcats securing a 7-0 lead with 12:40 remaining in the opening quarter when Greer intercepted a third-and-3 pass from Corp along the left sideline, sprinting untouched 40 yards for his first career touchdown. Freshman kicker Mike MacArthur (North Hampton, N.H.) added the extra-point. Corp was injured on the play and did not return.
The UNH defense forced a second turnover with 5:11 to go in the first when senior safety Ryan McGuinness (Howell, N.J.; four tackles) knocked the ball loose from Spider running back Tyler Kirchoff (17 rushes-108 yards), and sophomore linebacker Matt Evans (Hanover, Mass.) recovered for the 'Cats at the UNH 42. Evans finished the game with 12 tackles, including the first individual sack of his career; and senior safety Hugo Souza (Marshfield, Mass.) matched Evans with a team-leading 12 stops.
The Wildcats' defense created a third turnover with 12:15 remaining in the second quarter. Facing pressure from junior defensive end Brian McNally (Cornwall, N.Y.), Hicks under-threw a deep pass to the left side that was picked off by Perkins at the UNH 35.
After being held to only 64 yards of offense in the first half, the Wildcats gained 61 yards on six plays on their opening drive of the third quarter, culminating in a 20-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback R.J. Toman (Mission Viejo, Calif.) to sophomore wide receiver Joey Orlando (Bethlehem, Pa.). Orlando (seven catches/career-high 93 yards) fought off defensive back Tremayne Graham to snatch Toman's corner-route pass just inside the left pylon with 12:11 to go in the third quarter, helping the Wildcats go in front, 14-0. It was the ninth touchdown pass of the season for Toman, who went 20 of 29 for 166 yards, and Orlando's third scoring reception of the year. The key play of the drive was another Toman-to-Orlando connection, as the duo hooked up for a 28-yard pass play on a 3rd-and-2 over-the-shoulder fade down the left sideline, spotting the ball at Richmond's 25.
New Hampshire increased its lead to 17-0, courtesy of MacArthur's 34-yard field goal from the left hash mark with 2:25 remaining in the third. The field goal was set up by Greer's second interception of the afternoon, a pick of Hicks that was returned 20 yards from the Richmond 35 to its 15.
The Spiders' best threat came late in the third quarter, when Justin Rogers (91 all-purpose yards) returned a punt 54 yards to the UNH 11-yard line. Again, though, the defense refused to yield. Perkins (five tackles) stuffed Kirchoff for two yards on first down; Rogers was wrapped up by Evans and Souza for two yards on second down; sophomores Jared Smith (Greencastle, Pa.; career-high six tackles) and Alan Buzbee (Chester, N.J.; seven tackles); combined for a sack of Hicks on third down and Hicks' fourth-down pass went incomplete.
Senior Sean Jellison (Amherst, N.H.) led the Wildcats' ground game with 15 carries for 40 yards.
Richmond defensive tackle Martin Parker made 12 tackles, four solo, and strong safety Max Prokell chipped in with 10 tackles (2.5 for loss).
UNH visits James Madison next Saturday, Oct. 16, for a 3:30 p.m. game. The Wildcats' next home game is the inaugural Colonial Clash at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots, versus the University of Massachusetts on Oct. 23 at 3:30 p.m. For ticket information, call 1-800-745-3000, visit the Whittemore Center box office weekdays from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. or log on to UNHWildcats.com.