NO. 8 FOOTBALL HOSTS NO. 4 WILLIAM & MARY IN NOON SHOWDOWN SATURDAY IN DURHAM
No. 8/8 UNH (5-3, 3-2 CAA) at No. 4/5 William & Mary (6-2, 4-1 CAA)
Radio: Wildcat Sports Network: Jim Jeannotte (play-by-play), Loren Foxx (analyst)
UNH: Sean McDonnell
Years as head coach: 12th
Overall Record: 85-56
Record at UNH: 85-56
CAA Record: 51-45
Alma Mater: UNH '78
William & Mary: Jimmye Laycock
Years as head coach: 31st
Overall Record: 206-143-2
Record at W&M: 206-143-2
CAA Record: 86-57
Alma Mater: William & Mary '70
LAST TIME OUT: FOXBORO, Mass. – The ninth-ranked University of New Hampshire football team made history with a 39-13 victory over arch-rival and 12th-ranked Massachusetts before a Colonial Athletic Association record crowd of 32,848 in the inaugural Colonial Clash, the first-ever collegiate football game at Gillette Stadium. UNH sophomore linebacker Matt Evans 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. Sophomore running back Dontra Peters gained 98 yards on 23 carries, scoring a pair of rushing touchdowns, and senior quarterback R.J. Toman ran for two scores and threw for another. Toman was 14 of 26 for 176 yards and a touchdown. The previous record crowd for a CAA game came Oct. 16, 2010, at Delaware Stadium, where the Blue Hens hosted Rhode Island.
LAST MEETING: W&M-20, UNH-17, NOV. 14, 2009: Brian Pate kicked a 37-yard field goal with 2:54 remaining to give No. 5 William & Mary a 20-17 victory over No. 8 UNH at Zable Stadium. R.J. Toman completed 18 of 37 passes for 199 yards and 2 TDs, including a 35-yard connection with Joey Orlando for a game-tying score with 8:17 left in the 4th quarter. Orlando led the Wildcats with 64 receiving yards on three catches. UNH was held to 27 rushing yards on 24 carries.
SCOUTING THE TRIBE: William & Mary had its six-game winning streak snapped Oct. 30 by virtue of a 21-17 loss at North Carolina, an FBS school. The Tribe held a 10-point lead in the 4th quarter before yielding two touchdowns in the final 10 minutes. The Tribe is tied with Delaware and Villanova for first place in the CAA with a record of 4-1. The College is a perfect 4-0 at home, but just 2-2 on the road. The Tribe's stingy defense allows just 16.6 points per game, ranked 9th in the country.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Junior RB Jonathan Grimes, who was banged up and held to just 23 rushing yards and 17 kick-return yards at North Carolina on Oct. 30, ranks second in the CAA in all-purpose yardage (133.4 per game) and he's No. 2 in kickoff-return yards (25.8 per game). Grimes was named CAA Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 25 after rushing for 77 yards on 21 carries and throwing the game-winning touchdown to Chase Hill on a halfback option with 4:24 left to go in the Tribe's 17-16 win over then-No. 2 Delaware on Oct. 23, handing the Blue Hens their only loss of the season. Grimes, a Payton Award candidate, is W&M's all-time leader in all-purpose yards (4,892). He is 404 all-purpose yards away from ranking in CAA Football's career Top-10 list. Hill, who had six catches for a team-leading 72 yards and two scores versus the Tar Heels last weekend, has recorded at least one TD catch in five of the last seven games, and fellow WR Ryan Moody leads the team with 30 catches for 477 yards. DT Mike Stover is deadlocked for fifth in the CAA with 8.0 tackles for loss, and MLB Dante Cook is tied for fourth in the CAA in tackles per game (10.4).
UNH-W&M ALL-TIME SERIES (TRIBE LEADS, 11-2): The Tribe is the lone CAA team that the Wildcats have not beaten in the Sean McDonnell era (0-7). Six of those seven games have been decided by 10 points or less. The one exception was a 42-10 setback in Williamsburg in 2005, which was the only regular-season loss for the Wildcats in a year they entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 team in the nation. The College was the last visiting team to come away with a victory at Cowell Stadium, 38-34, on Oct. 11, 2008. Since that time, UNH has rattled off a school-record 13 straight home victories, with 12 of those wins coming at The Dungeon and one at Gillette Stadium.
TALE OF THE TAPE:
Totals (CAA Rank) UNH W&M
Total Yards Gained 2,909 (4) 2,791 (5)
Total Offense 363.6 (4) 348.9 (5)
Rush Offense 130.5 (8) 117.1 (10)
Pass Offense 233.1 (2) 231.8 (3)
Points Per Game 25.2 (3) 25.5 (2)
Total Yards Allowed 2,494 (4) 2,648 (6)
Total Defense 311.8 (4) 331.0 (6)
Rush Defense 124.5 (4) 121.8 (3)
Pass Defense 187.2 (5) 209.2 (8)
Points Allowed/Game 15.2 (4) 16.6 (5)
Possession Avg. 30:56 (4) 30:47 (5)
Sacks Allowed/Yards Lost 24/167 (10) 13/97 (6)
Sacks Made/Yards 19/112 (1) 10/70 (T-6)
Total Touchdowns Scored 25 (3) 26 (2)
Penalties Against/Yards 48/436 (5) 36/270 (1)
Punts/Avg. 48/36.7 (8) 36/42.5 (2)
Turnover Differential +10 (2) +5 (4)
STRENGTH-VS-STRENGTH: The Wildcats/Tribe matchup features two of the top 10 scoring defenses in all of FCS football. UNH is ranked sixth, allowing 15.2 points per contest, while William & Mary is ranked ninth, yielding only 16.6 points per game.
V IS FOR VASSO: Senior cornerback Dino Vasso, following his two interceptions at JMU on Oct. 16, has reached five interceptions in a season for the third straight year. His career total of 17 interceptions is three shy of the school record of 20, held by Bill Pappas (1952-54). He also leads the CAA in picks and one more interception would move him into a tie for eighth all-time in conference history.
EVANS REMAINS TOP STOPPER: The bye week may have cost MLB Matt Evans a potential third straight CAA Defensive Player of the Week award, but his 93 tackles remain No. 1 in the league. Evans is also rated ninth in the country in tackles per game (11.6).
INDIVIDUAL DEFENSIVE STANDOUTS: In addition to Vasso and Evans leading the CAA in interceptions (5) and tackles (93), respectively, the Wildcats also boast the league's top defensive standouts in sacks (Brian McNally-5.5) and forced-fumbles (Evans, Alan Buzbee-2).
OH, THEN THERE'S THE O: Though the defense has overshadowed the offense a bit in 2010, QB R.J. Toman does pace the CAA in total offense (239.1 yds/gm.) and ranks second in passing yard per game (224.1). WR Terrance Fox is No. 2 in the CAA in receptions per game (5.6) and third in rec. yards per game (61.5)
MONEY MIKE: The only true freshman to play in 2010 has been North Hampton, N.H., native Mike MacArthur. The kicker leads the CAA with a 77.8% field-goal percentage (7-of-9).
LARGEST CAA CROWD EVER: UNH made history by winning the inaugural Colonial Clash, 39-13, over UMass at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 23. The first college football game ever played at the home of the NFL's New England Patriots drew 32,848 fans, the largest crowd to ever witness a CAA conference game. Strangely enough, that's only the second-largest crowd to see UNH play a game -and both have come this year. The largest was the audience of 50,120 who took in the Pitt-UNH game at Heinz Field, home of the Pittsburgh Steelers, on Sept. 11.
BEST TV RATING IN CAA HISTORY: Not only was the Colonial Clash the highest-attended CAA league game in history, it was also the most viewed Comcast SportsNet New England telecast in conference history. The UNH/UMass game pulled in a 0.88 rating.
TOPPING THE CHARTS: UNH has defeated three straight ranked opponents for the first time in school history. Richmond was ranked 11th when it fell, 17-0, at Cowell Stadium on Oct. 9; James Madison was ranked sixth when it dropped a 24-14 homecoming decision to the Wildcats on Oct. 16; and UMass was No. 12 in it lost, 39-13, in the inaugural Colonial Clash at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 23. The schedule, incredibly, only gets more difficult with games against No. 4 William & Mary this week and No. 3 Villanova looming Nov. 13 in Philadelphia.
FOLLOWING A BYE: UNH has had mixed results when playing after a bye week, posting a 7-4 mark in the Coach Mac era, though only 3-3 in the last six encounters. In 2009, the Wildcats defeated Dartmouth 44-14, but in 2008, William & Mary spoiled homecoming in Durham with a 38-34 win over the 'Cats.
THIRD AND NONE: UNH has outscored FCS opponents 44-0 in the third quarter this season, including 27-0 over the last three games, all victories over ranked CAA opponents: Richmond, James Madison and Massachusetts.
•UNH has won each game this season when it's scored first (5-0) and lost each time the opponent has struck first (0-3).
•The 450 passing yards and 493 total yards allowed to UMass on Oct. 23 were the most yielded by UNH all season, but the 43 rushing yards allowed were the fewest of the year.
•Dontra Peters' 197 rushing yards vs. Central Connecticut State (Sept. 4) is the single-game high for all CAA running backs this season.
•Senior Kevon Mason is the only Wildcat with at least one reception in every game. He has a streak of 12 straight games with at least one grab and, dating back to the 2009 season opener, has made at least one catch in 18 of the last 19 games.
DOZEN AT THE DUNGEON: UNH has won a school-record 12 consecutive games at Cowell Stadium, which players have affectionately begun referring to as 'The Dungeon'. The previous school record winning streak of 11 in a row was established from Oct. 5, 1929-Nov. 14, 1931. The 'Cats last home loss came Oct. 11, 2008, to William & Mary, 38-34. This is the Tribe's first visit to Durham since that game. Here is a game-by-game breakdown of the record string of success.
BLUE STREAK -14 IN A ROW: As the designated home team at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 23, the Wildcats wore their home blue uniforms, making it an amazing 14 consecutive wins when donning the blue jerseys. The previous week, Oct. 16 at James Madison, marked the first time in the Coach Mac era that UNH wore its homes on the road, with James Madison opting to wear alternate gold uniforms for its homecoming tilt.