HARRISONBURG, Va. – Matt Evans (Hanover, Mass.) returned a fumble for a touchdown, forced another and amassed a game-high and career-high-tying 14 tackles as the 15th ranked University of New Hampshire football team upset sixth-ranked James Madison, 28-14, on Saturday afternoon at Bridgeforth Stadium. The Wildcats outscored the Dukes, 18-0, in the second half to record their first win at JMU since Sept. 28, 1996.
Dino Vasso (Crum Lynne, Pa.) added two interceptions for a UNH defense that tallied four sack, forced three turnovers and held the Dukes to only 11 first downs in the game. JMU quarterback Drew Dudzik was held to 10 completions in 23 attempts for 157 yards and two interceptions.
R.J. Toman (Mission Viejo, Calif.) went 22 of 40 for 248 yards and a touchdown; Dontra Peters (Annapolis, Md. carried the ball 11 times for 60 yards and a score and Terrance Fox (Piscataway, N.J.) hauled in a team-leading six receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown.
UNH failed to convert on 4th-and-3 at the JMU 36 to give the Dukes possession with 1:24 to play in the first half. James Madison advanced to the UNH 28, but a James Jenkins (Paterson, N.J.) sack and two incompletions forced a 46-yard field goal attempt by Ben Hopewell, who pushed the kick wide left.
On the opening kickoff of the second half, Peters' 41-yard return gave New Hampshire the ball on the JMU 40. Toman connected with Sean Cullen (Naples, Fla.) down the right sideline for a 25-yard gain to the Dukes' 10 to set up MacArthur's 26-yard field goal that pulled the 'Cats within 14-13 at 12:17. Cullen finished the day with four catches for a game-leading 66 yards.
JMU marched to the UNH 28 on its next possession, but lost two yards on consecutive running plays and then Brian McNally (Cornwall, N.Y.) and Lance Mailloux (Bedford, N.H.) combined on an eight-yard sack to force the Dukes to punt.
The Wildcats moved the ball from its one 1-yard line to the JMU 20, but the defense stiffened and sent the 'Cats back 19 yards on the next three plays to force a punt.
UNH regained the lead for good, 21-14, with an eight-play, 64-yard drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters. The drive opened with 59 seconds left in the third and on 2nd-and-14, Fox spun out of a tackle at the 40 and picked up 10 more yards to give the 'Cats first down at midfield. Toman completed a 25-yard pass to Cullen and a 14-yard pass to Peters to advance the ball to the JMU 16. Facing 3rd-and-9 at the 13, Fox went in motion, caught the ball in the left flat and scampered untouched into the end zone behind a lead block by Joey Orlando (Bethlehem, Pa.). UNH converted a 2-point conversion on a shovel-pass from Toman to Sean Jellison (Amherst, N.H.).
On the Duke's ensuing possession, Vasso made an athletic play to intercept the ball at the UNH 22. With 10:38 remaining in the game, the 'Cats began an eight-play, 78-yard drive that consumed 4:13 off the clock and extended the advantage to 28-14 at 6:25. After a three-yard loss on first down, Toman's pass attempt to Cullen was jarred out of the tight end's arms but caught in mid-air by senior wide receiver Chris Chandler (Wakefield, Mass.) for a nine-yard gain. The Wildcats proceeded to keep the ground for the final six plays on the drive, with Jellison (nine carries-58 yards; three receptions-30 yards) gaining 33 yards on three carries and Peters finishing off the drive with a 14-yard touchdown sweep around the left end.
Vasso added his second interception of the game when he grabbed Dudzik's deep pass that caromed off Souza's shoulder pad at the UNH 24-yard line with 6:04 remaining, allowing the Wildcats to snap a 10-game CAA road losing streak in Virginia.
New Hampshire returns to action Oct. 23 for the inaugural Colonial Clash against the University of Massachusetts. The game, which kicks off at 3:30 p.m., will be played at Gillette Stadium – home of the NFL's New England Patriots. Tickets for the Colonial Clash are currently available for purchase through UNH at the Whittemore Center Arena Box Office by calling 603-862-4000 x 5.
Club seats are $30, lower-bowl seats are $25 and there is a discounted student ticket available for $10. All ticket prices include parking. UNH student tickets are only being sold at the Whittemore Center Arena Box Office. Please note that a valid UNH Student ID is required at the time of purchase. No student tickets will be available to purchase at Gillette Stadium on game day. Group sale discounts and incentives for parties of 20 or more are available through Gillette Stadium by calling 1-877-438-7387.