DURHAM, N.H. -The No.7/9 UNH football team (2-1) plays its first home football game of the season this Saturday, Oct. 1, at 12 p.m. against Holy Cross (2-1), a Patriot League opponent that hasn't gone head-to-head with the Wildcats since 1984. The 'Cats, fresh off a thrilling 45-43 upset of then-No.5/7 Richmond, are seeking a third straight victory.
•Last week's victory at No. 5/7 Richmond came in head coach Sean McDonnell's 100th career CAA contest. Coach Mac is 54-46 (.540) in his league coaching career, including 35-15 (.700) in his last 50 games. The 45-43 triumph also represented the first win for the Wildcats at Richmond since Nov. 5, 1994. That victory was the 150th all-time for legendary head coach Bill Bowes. By comparison, Saturday's Holy Cross game represents the 150th overall in Coach Mac's tenure. Bowes finished his 27-year career with a mark of 175-106-5 (.621). McDonnell, now in his 13th season, is 90-59 (.604).
•Saturday's battle vs. Holy Cross resumes a series that has been dormant for 27 seasons. The Crusaders lead the series, 6-5, including a 13-0 triumph in the first-ever meeting Oct. 2, 1909. New Hampshire won the most recent encounter, 14-13, on Nov. 10, 1984.
•Saturday's game is being dedicated to the Karim Brothers' Recovery Fund. Donations are being accepted for former Wildcats Husain (2006-07) and Muji (2003-06) Karim, who were critically injured in a horrific car accident in Boston in late August. Former teammates, including David Ball and E.J. DeWitt, will be volunteering with other former UNH student-athletes by selling t-shirts for $20 on game day, with all proceeds going to the Karims' ongoing recovery.
•R.J. Harris was named the CAA Rookie of the Week and The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Rookie of the Week after making 12 catches for 120 yards and two touchdowns at Richmond. The R-Fr., ranks 2nd in the CAA and 6th in the FCS in receptions/game (8.0), and he is No. 3 in the CAA (No. 21 nationally) in rec. yards/game (91.0).
•Kevin Decker earned the Gold Helmet Award from the N.E. Football Writers on Wednesday after his 22-for-32, 239-yard performance at Richmond. The senior QB threw TD passes of 19 and 47 yards to Harris while rushing nine times for 64 yards and two TDs, an 18-yard carry and a 12-yard rush. Decker is atop the CAA in total offense/game (284.0), where he is tied for 13th in the FCS with Holy Cross QB Ryan Taggart. Decker also paces the league in scoring/game (10.7).
•Dontra Peters was named CAA Special Teams Player of the Week after compiling 141 kick-return yards and 261 all-purpose yards.
103 WEEKS AND COUNTING: UNH is ranked in the Top 25 for a CAA-best 103rd straight week, the nation's second-longest streak that dates back to Sept. 13, 2004. William & Mary, at a distant 41 weeks, has the second-longest ranked streak in the CAA. Montana's run of 183 consecutive weeks leads the country:
School Consecutive Weeks Ranked
Appalachian State 87
William & Mary 41
UNH WEEK-BY-WEEK RANKINGS:
WEEK THE SPORTS NETWORK/FATHEAD.COM FCS COACHES
Preseason 10 10
Week 1 13 16
Week 2 11 12
Week 3 11 11
Week 4 7 9
SERIES HISTORY- HOLY CROSS LEADS, 6-5: Saturday's battle vs. Holy Cross resumes a series that has been dormant for 27 seasons. The Crusaders lead the series, 6-5, including a 13-0 triumph in the first-ever meeting Oct. 2, 1909 in Worcester. New Hampshire won the most recent encounter, 14-13, on Nov. 10, 1984. The Wildcats' first home game vs the Crusaders was actually played in Manchester, N.H., on Nov. 19, 1921. The two schools would not battle at Cowell Stadium until Sept. 22, 1973, and the 'Cats would not beat Holy Cross in Durham until Sept. 10, 1977. The Wildcats will tangle with the Crusaders in Worcester in a return engagement Sept. 1, 2012.
Date H/A UNH Holy Cross W L T Result
10/2/09 A 0 13 0 1 0 L
11/20/20 A 0 32 0 2 0 L
11/19/21# H 13 7 1 2 0 W
9/22/73 H 0 31 1 3 0 L
9/11/76 A 17 3 2 3 0 W
9/10/77 H 27 14 3 3 0 W
9/9/78 A 14 19 3 4 0 L
9/15/79 H 26 17 4 4 0 W
9/11/82 A 0 28 4 5 0 L
9/24/83 H 30 42 4 6 0 L
11/10/84 A 14 13 5 6 0 W
#Game played in Manchester, N.H.
SCOUTING THE CRUSADERS: Holy Cross has posted a winning record for six straight seasons. The Crusaders concluded the 2010 campaign with an overall mark of 6-5. This marks the first time the Crusaders have posted six straight winning seasons since finishing with a winning mark in seven straight years from 1986-1992. A two-time Patriot League Coach of the Year (in 2006 and 2009), Tom Gilmore is in his eighth season as the head football coach at Holy Cross in 2011. In 2009, Gilmore led the Crusaders to an overall record of 9-3, the Patriot League championship and a trip to the NCAA playoffs. Also a finalist for the 2009 Eddie Robinson Award, he currently owns an overall record of 47-34 during his time at Holy Cross, including a 44-26 mark since the beginning of the 2005 campaign.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior quarterback Ryan Taggart has not thrown an interception yet this season, and the last interception of his career came back on Oct. 16, 2010, at Dartmouth. Since that game, he has thrown 201 consecutive passes without being picked off. The Holy Cross offensive line is once again one of the most dominating units in the Patriot League this year. In three games played so far this season, the line has paved the way for the Crusaders to average 27.7 points and 381.3 total yards per game. Holy Cross has also allowed only three sacks, while attempting 96 passes this year (just one sack for every 33.0 times the team has dropped back to pass). The most experienced player on the line is senior left tackle Mike McCabe, who has been named All- Patriot League in each of the last two seasons.
Senior LBs C.J. Martin, Ricky Otis and Jimmy Thomas are key parts of the Holy Cross defense in 2011. Otis currently ranks third on the team with 24 tackles, including three tackles for loss. He totaled 10 tackles with two tackles for loss in the season opener against Massachusetts, then added nine tackles in the victory over Colgate. Last season, Otis led the team with 108 total tackles and earned first team All-Patriot League honors despite missing two games due to injury. Martin has made 15 tackles in three games this season, with a high of six tackles against Massachusetts in the season opener. He ranked second on the team with 95 total tackles last year, including 61 solo stops and two tackles for loss. Thomas has totaled 15 tackles, two tackles for loss and an interception so far this year, despite missing a game due to injury. During the victory over Colgate, he had 10 tackles, one tackle for loss and a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown.
•QB Kevin Decker needs 269 more passing yards to reach 1,000 for the season.
•RB Dontra Peters needs one more rushing TD for 10 in his career. Peters needs 120 more all-purpose yards for 2,000 in his career and 287 more kick-return yards for 1,000 in his career
•WR Mickey Mangieri needs 105 all-purpose yards to reach 500 for his career.
•WR Joey Orlando needs 17 receptions for 100 in his career.
KARIM BROTHERS GAME DEDICATION: This Saturday's game between No. 7/9 UNH and Holy Cross at Cowell Stadium is being dedicated to former UNH players Husain and Muji Karim, head coach Sean McDonnell announced Tuesday. Donations will be accepted for the ongoing recovery of the Karim brothers, who were critically injured in a horrific auto accident in Boston last month.
"This is an exciting opportunity to support two great kids who gave a lot to this football program," McDonnell said. "We hope our fans will reach into their hearts and their pockets to help Husain and Muji out during this very difficult time."
Former teammates David Ball and E.J. DeWitt, and other former UNH student-athletes, including Kate Uitti (volleyball) and Rhyan Radack (women's soccer), are spearheading fundraising efforts for the Karim Brothers' Recovery Fund. The Wildcat alums will lead a group of volunteers distributing blue and silver ribbons to any fans making a donation on game day. In addition, Karim brother t-shirts will be on sale for $20 with all proceeds going to the Karims' recovery efforts.
"These recent circumstances brought back a lot of memories of my time at UNH and the lessons we learned as teammates," Ball said. "You hear all the time that members of a football team are like a brotherhood, but rarely do people get the opportunity to experience that firsthand like we did. Husain and Muji are our brothers, and it is going to be an unbelievable experience to honor and pay tribute to them during their time of need while the two schools they represented go head-to-head."
The Karims are in the midst of a long and arduous recovery process from catastrophic injuries sustained in a single-car accident on Storrow Drive; Husain at Massachusetts General Hospital and Muji at Brigham and Women's Hospital.
In addition to game day donations, anyone wishing to make a donation can mail a check payable to:
c/o Alison Segar
49 Fletcher Place
Burlington, VT 05401
Note payment is for the Karim Brothers' Recovery Fund.
Husain, a linebacker, was the team leader in tackles during his two seasons as a Wildcat, amassing 108 stops as a junior in 2006 and tying Jeff Pammer for the squad lead with 130 tackles, the fourth-highest single-season total in school history, as a senior in '07 to earn the team's Jock MacKenzie/Bob Demers 12th Player Award. Husain played the first two seasons of his career at Holy Cross, where he amassed 95 tackles between 2003 and '04.
Muji, a four-year letter winner at safety and linebacker from 2003-06, was the University's 12th Player Award winner in '06. His career highlight was a 60-yard fumble return for a touchdown in a 27-17 triumph against Richmond at Cowell Stadium on Oct. 7, 2006, the same day Ball supplanted Jerry Rice as the all-time Division I FCS record holder for career touchdown receptions.
MACARTHUR AMONG TOP PUNTERS IN NCAA: Mike MacArthur continues to impress in his first season as the Wildcats' punter. The North Hampton, N.H. native launched a career-high 58-yard punt late in the Wildcats' 45-43 win at No. 5 Richmond on Sept. 24. Through three games, his 45.4 yards/punt avg. is ranked 2nd in the CAA and 7th in all of FCS football. MacArthur was twice recognized with the College Football Performance Award (CFPA) FCS Honorable Mention as Punter Performer of the Week following the Toledo game (Sept. 1) and the Lehigh contest (Sept. 10).
HOME OPENERS: Under head coach Sean McDonnell, UNH is 9-3 in its home openers. The Wildcats are riding a six-game home-opener winning streak, dating back to Sept. 24, 2005. This is the first time the home opener has taken place in October since Oct. 14, 1989, when the 'Cats downed Colgate, 17-10, following four straight road games (2-2) to begin the season.
Date Opponent Score W/L
9/18/99 James Madison 28-35 L
9/9/00 Rhode Island 13-12 W
9/1/01 Hampton 45-29 W
9/14/02 Hofstra 28-52 L
8/30/03 Central Conn. St. 70-20 W
9/18/04 William & Mary 7-9 L
9/24/05 Dartmouth 49-20 W
9/16/06 Stony Brook 62-7 W
9/22/07 Dartmouth 52-31 W
9/20/08 Albany 32-24 W
9/5/09 St. Francis 24-14 W
9/4/10 Central Conn. St. 33-3 W
ROOKIE SENSATION: R-Fr. WR R.J. Harris is off to a fabulous start. At Richmond on Sept. 24, Harris established career highs with 12 receptions for 120 yards and 2 TDs, including a 47-yard hookup with Kevin Decker, to win the CAA Rookie of the Week award and The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Rookie of the Week honor. Through three games, Harris is ranked 2nd in the CAA and 6th in the country in receptions/game (8.0), and his 91.0 receptions/game are 3rd-best in the league and No. 21 in the FCS.
HARRIS ON INAUGURAL RICE AWARD WATCH LIST: R.J. Harris has been named to the first Watch List for the inaugural Jerry Rice Award, presented by the Sports Network and sponsored by Fathead.com, it was announced Wednesday. The Watch List is comprised of 15 freshmen off to outstanding starts this season. Harris is ranked sixth in the FCS and second in the CAA in receptions/game (8.0), and his 91.0 receiving yards/game are ranked 21st in the country and No. 3 in the CAA. The 6-foot, 194-pound receiver paces UNH with 24 catches, 273 yards and three touchdown receptions through three games. He figured prominently in the Wildcats' upset of then-No. 5 Richmond last Saturday, snatching 12 catches for 120 yards and two TDs –all career highs- in a 45-43 triumph. His 47-yard reception from Kevin Decker (Armonk, N.Y.) late in the fourth quarter proved to be the game-winning score. It marked the second straight 100-yard receiving day for Harris, who hauled in eight catches for 108 yards and a touchdown in New Hampshire's 48-41 overtime win at Lehigh on Sept. 10. The Rice Award will honor the outstanding freshman in the Football Championship Subdivision. A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will select the award winner after the regular season. The legendary Rice, who played in the FCS (then Division I-AA) at Mississippi Valley State, will present the award at the national awards banquet Jan. 6, 2012, in Frisco, Texas.
GOLD HELMET FOR DECKER: The Gridiron Club of Greater Boston has selected University of New Hampshire senior quarterback Kevin Decker (Armonk, N.Y.) as the recipient of its Gold Helmet Award for the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS), recognizing the senior co-captain as the region's top player of the week. The announcement was made Wednesday afternoon at the Dillon Field House at Harvard University. Decker orchestrated the Wildcats' 45-43 upset victory at then-No. 5/7 Richmond on Sept. 24 by completing 22 of 32 passes for 239 yards and two touchdowns. Both scoring tosses went to redshirt freshman R.J. Harris (Odenton, Md.), the CAA Rookie of the Week, including a 19-yarder in the second quarter and a season-high 47-yard connection with 2:45 remaining in the game that provided the winning margin. Decker added two rushing TDs, an 18-yard keeper in the second quarter and a 12-yard rush in the third period, as part of a nine-carry, 48-yard effort. On the season, Decker leads the CAA in total offense/game (284.0/T-13th nationally) and scoring/game (10.7) while ranking second in passing yards/game (243.7) and second in the nation in points responsible/game (22.67). The 6-foot-2, 205-pound QB is 66-for-94 for 731 yards with six touchdowns, and he ranks second on the squad with 121 rushing yards on a team-leading 32 carries, while scoring five of UNH's six rushing touchdowns this season.
ALL-PURPOSE PETERS: Kick-returner Dontra Peters was named the CAA Special Teams Player of the Week after compiling 141 kick-return yards, including a career-best 70-yard return, in UNH's 45-43 upset at No. 5 Richmond on Sept. 24. Peters added a team-leading 64 rushing yards on nine carries to go over the 1,000-yard rushing mark for his career, and the junior set career highs with four receptions for 56 yards. His 212.0 all-purpose yards/game rank No. 1 in the CAA and his 26.4 yards per kick return are fourth-best in the league.
PACE-SETTING EVANS: LB Matt Evans is atop the NCAA in tackles/game (17.3) and solo tackles/game (10.3) through three games this season. His 52 total tackles top the CAA despite the fact that UNH has played one fewer game than most league teams due to the open week Sept. 17. Evans set a career benchmark with a 24-tackle performance in the victory at then-11th-ranked Lehigh on Sept. 10, and then registered 14 more tackles and returned his second career interception for a TD, racing back 31 yards for a score in the Wildcats' 45-3 upset of No. 5 Richmond on Sept. 24. For his efforts, Evans was feted with honorable mention as the CFPA National Linebacker Performer of the Week.
DE VINES INT-ERVENTION: Junior DE Randi Vines notched his second career interception in the win at Richmond on Sept. 24 and, for the second time, he returned it for a TD. Vines, who previously notched a 30-yard pick-six against Central Connecticut State in 2010, doubled that with a 60-yard TD return against the Spiders.
BERANGER PLAYING SECOND FIDDLE: FS Chris Beranger quickly stepped in as the ideal defensive complement to Matt Evans. Beranger tallied a career-high and game-leading 17 tackles in UNH's win at Richmond on Sept. 24 to move into second place (behind Evans) in the CAA with 12.0 tackles/game. Beranger has collected 18 solo tackles and 18 assisted stops for 36 overall through three games.
COACH TO CURE: Coach Mac and his staff are joining forces to support the Coach to Cure M.D. Program. All the Wildcat coaches are wearing patches on their sleeves Saturday to raise awareness of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. To donate $5 to Coach to Cure M.D., text the word 'cure' to 90999. You can also visit www.coachtocuremd.org to make a donation.