UNH sophomore linebacker Matt Evans (Hanover, Mass.) was the 25th recipient of the prestigious Bill Knight Trophy as the game's MVP after recording a game-high 13 tackles, notching his first career interception and forcing a fumble for the Wildcats (5-3, 3-2).
Sophomore running back Dontra Peters (Annapolis, Md.) gained 98 yards on 23 carries, scoring a pair of rushing touchdowns, and senior quarterback R.J. Toman (Mission Viejo, Calif.) ran for two scores and threw for another. Toman was 14 of 26 for 176 yards and a touchdown.
New Hampshire, the designated home team at the home of the New England Patriots, jumped out to a 29-0 lead over Massachusetts (4-3, 2-2) en route to its third straight win over a ranked league opponent and its 13th consecutive home victory.
The 'Cats capitalized on an early UMass turnover to take the lead with 6:10 remaining in the opening quarter. A 33-yard punt from senior Kyle Auffray (Cornwall, N.Y.) grazed the leg of a Massachusetts player, and junior cornerback Kyle Flemings (Forty Fort, Pa.; four tackles) alertly pounced on the loose ball at UMass's 14-yard line. Three plays later, Toman carried in from one yard out, and UNH converted the two-point conversion on a pass play from Kevin Decker (Armonk, N.Y.) to Chris Chandler (Wakefield, Mass.; two catches, 26 yards) for an 8-0 advantage.
UMass had one threat denied when Caleb Violette was wide right on a 45-yard field goal attempt with 12:17 to go in the first half. Later in the quarter, the Minutemen drove to the UNH 35-yard line, but a fumble from Jonathan Griffin was recovered by Brian McNally (Cornwall, N.Y.; two tackles, sack) at the 36. The Wildcats then went on a 12-play, 64-yard drive with Peters taking it in from three yards out and Mike MacArthur (North Hampton, N.H.) tacking on the extra point to make it 15-0 with 5:44 to go in the half.
UNH went on a systematic 10-play, 99-yard drive midway through the third quarter with Toman finishing it off with his second one-yard touchdown plunge of the game and third rushing score of the season, making the score 22-0. Toman went 3-for-4 on the drive, completing a 29-yard pass to senior Kevon Mason (Quincy, Mass.; two catches, 45 yards) and a 26-yard pass to Terrance Fox (Piscataway, N.J). Fox (three catches, 31 yards; 3 carries, 24 yards) made an additional grab for one yard and then set the stage for Toman's touchdown by taking a reverse 17 yards, down to the UMass 1.
That margin would balloon to 29-0 when Toman found Joey Orlando (Bethlehem, Pa.) in the deep right corner of the end zone for an 11-yard touchdown with 2:26 remaining in the third quarter. Peters accounted for 22 yards on four carries during the drive, and Orlando (four catches, 50 yards) preceded his fourth touchdown reception of the season with a nifty back-shoulder grab on a fourth-and-1 play, gaining 21 yards to the UMass 37.
Peters' second scoring run, a two-yarder with 7:42 to go in the game, staked UNH to a 36-6 lead. Dino Vasso (Crum Lynne, Pa.; six tackles) returned UMass's onsides kick 17 yards, giving the Wildcats a short field to work with at the Massachusetts 23. Sean Jellison (Amherst, N.H.; five rushes, 13 yards) ran twice for 10 yards; Decker (1-for-2, 11 yards; four rushes, 19 yards), in relief of Toman, hooked up with Mike Greene (Stonington, Conn.) for 11 yards before calling his own number and scampering 13 yards to the UMass 2. Peters concluded the drive with his second scoring run, a two-yarder with 7:42 in the game, staking UNH to a 36-6 lead.
A.J. Delago (Menands, N.Y.) provided the game's final points with an 18-yard field goal with 3:38 remaining. It was DeLago's second made field goal of the season and first attempt since a 22-yard make at Pittsburgh on Sept. 11.
UMass scored all 13 of its points in the fourth quarter. Rob Blanchflower recovered a fumble from Anthony Nelson, forced by Evans, in the end zone with 10:28 to go, and Julian Talley caught a 14-yard pass from Kyle Havens with 5:47 remaining. Havens went 32-of-55 for a career-high 450 yards, but was intercepted by Evans at the UNH 17 on the first play of the fourth quarter. Nelson made a game-high 11 catches for 190 yards in the loss.
The previous record crowd for a CAA game came Oct. 16, 2010, at Delaware Stadium, where the Blue Hens hosted Rhode Island.
UNH has a bye week before returning to action Saturday, Nov. 6, at Cowell Stadium against the College of William & Mary. For tickets, call 1-800-745-3000, visit the Whittemore Center Box Office weekdays 10 a.m.-5 p.m. or log on to www.unhwildcats.com.