No. 6/7 Football Rolls Past Villanova, 47-17
DURHAM, N.H.- Kevin Decker (Armonk, N.Y.) passed for a career-high 395 yards, threw three touchdown passes and rushed for another to lead the sixth-ranked University of New Hampshire football team to a 47-17 victory over Villanova before a crowd of 5,760 on Saturday afternoon at Cowell Stadium.
UNH earned its fourth consecutive win to up its record to 4-1, 1-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Villanova dropped to 1-5 overall, 0-3 in the CAA.
Decker went 23 of 32, matching a career high for completions by spreading the ball to nine different receivers. The senior signal caller recorded TD passes to R.J. Harris (Odenton, Md.), Justin Mello (Dartmouth, Mass.) and Jimmy Giansante (Jefferson Hills, Pa.), helping UNH compile a season-best 401 passing yards and 557 total yards.
Harris notched his third 100-yard receiving day of the season, accumulating a career-high 190 yards, just 23 shy of the CAA freshman record, on a team-leading seven receptions. His team-best fourth scoring catch came on the longest pass play of the season, a 66-yard heave from Decker on a post pattern with 3:27 left in the first quarter to help the home Wildcats build a 15-0 lead.
Mello made his one catch of the day count, corralling a 35-yard touchdown reception with 6:11 left in the second quarter to push UNH's lead to 24-3.
Giansante (three catches-58 yards, TD) snared a 16-yard scoring strike early in the fourth quarter, increasing the Wildcats' lead to 44-10 with 13:42 remaining in the contest.
Decker (six rushes-46 yards, TD) got the scoring started by rushing for a three-yard touchdown, his sixth, just 2:45 into the opening stanza, putting the finishing touches on an eight-play, 80-yard drive. He then kept it himself for the successful two-point conversion and an 8-0 UNH lead.
Brian McNally (Cornwall, N.Y./four tackles) spearheaded New Hampshire's best defensive showing of the season, racking up a career-high 3.5 sacks as the 'Cats held 'Nova to 277 yards of offense and forced three turnovers.
Chris Houston (Harrisburg, Pa.) made six tackles, forced a fumble and notched his first career interception.
Rod Walker (Portsmouth, N.H) also picked off the first pass of his career, returning the INT 42 yards to the Villanova 6. That set the stage for Dontra Peters (Annapolis, Md./nine rushes-30 yards, TD), who scampered in for a six-yard score with 12:31 left in the third period, staking UNH to a commanding 34-10 following the PAT.
New Hampshire forced its other turnover on the first play of the fourth quarter when Jared Smith (Greencastle, Pa./two tackles) forced a fumble that was recovered by James Jenkins (Paterson, N.J./three tackles).
Mike MacArthur (North Hampton, N.H.) improved to 7-for-7 in field-goal attempts this season by connecting on all three of his attempts: a 24-yarder in the second quarter, giving UNH an 18-0 lead; a 27-yard kick on the last play of the first half for a 27-10 lead and a 23-yarder with 5:14 left in the third quarter for a 37-10 advantage. But the sophomore kicker did miss the first extra point of his career following Giansante's second-period TD catch, snapping a streak of 43 in a row successfully converted.
Villanova quarterback Chris Polony, who replaced ineffective starter Chris Cullicerto (2-for-7, seven yards), went 15 of 19 for 120 yards with two interceptions and a nine-yard TD pass to Dorian Wells (five catches-36 yards, TD). Kevin Monangai rushed 18 times for 57 yards and a touchdown.
New Hampshire hits the road to square off with No. 9 William & Mary at Zable Stadium next Saturday, Oct. 15, at 12 p.m. For more information, visit www.unhwildcats.com.