GAME DAY: No. 9 Football Prepares for 13th-ranked James Madison on Saturday at 12 p.m.
No. 9/11 New Hampshire (6-2, 4-1 CAA) vs No. 13/13 James Madison (5-3, 3-2 CAA)
•Nov. 5, 2011 • 12:00 p.m. • Cowell Stadium • Durham, N.H.
Live Stats: livestats.prestosports.com/unhwildcats
Radio: Wildcat Sports Radio Network
Jim Jeannotte (play-by-play), Bob Lipman (analyst), Nick Anastos (sidelines)
UNH-JMU ALL-TIME SERIES (DUKES LEAD 7-6): Last season's 28-14 victory at Bridgeforth Stadium marked the first win for Coach McDonnell at JMU and the Wildcats' first triumph in Harrisonburg since Sept. 28, 1996. Coach Mac is 3-5 lifetime vs. Mickey Matthews. The two coaches began at their respective schools the same season (1999). UNH has never beaten JMU in back-to-back meetings.
TALE OF THE TAPE:
Totals (CAA Rank) UNH JMU
Total Offense 447.9 (1) 348.1 (7)
Rush Offense 158.1 (5) 225.2 (2)
Pass Offense 289.8 (1) 122.9 (11)
Scoring Offense 33.6 (2) 22.5 (9)
Total Defense 447.9 (11) 308.8 (1)
Rush Defense 166.5 (10) 94.0 (1)
Pass Defense 281.4 (11) 214.8 (6)
Scoring Defense 32.5 (10) 19.2 (1)
Possession Avg. 25:47 (11) 31:52 (3)
Sacks/Yards Lost 18/108 (T-8) 17/87 (T-6)
Sacks Made/Yards 15/89 (7) 25/176 (2)
Penalties/Yards 47/429 (8) 45/418 (7)
Punts/Net Avg. 23/39.3 (1) 42/36.1 (7)
Turnover Differential -3 (8) +1 (T-6)
OFFENSE/DEFENSE DEAD EVEN: Through eight games, UNH has gained 3,583 yards and allowed 3,583 yards, an average of 447.9 yards/game. That makes for the CAA's #1 offense and #11 defense. The glaring difference is that the Wildcats have accumulated their yardage on 537 plays for an average of 6.7 yards/play, whereas the opponents have needed 627 plays (90 more) for an average of 5.7 yards/play.
FOUR SCORE & THREE YEARS AGO: The Wildcats had four different players rush for TDs -Chris Setian, R.J. Harris, Dontra Peters, Kevin Decker- in the win against URI on Oct. 29. The last time four UNH players rushed for scores was on Sept. 27, 2008, when Sean Jellison, Travis Negron, R.J. Toman and Bobby Simpson all accomplished the feat.
SCOUTING THE DUKES: Whereas the Wildcats have built their success around a high-octane offense in 2011, JMU hangs its hat on a stout defensive unit that tops the CAA in scoring defense (19.2 ppg), rushing defense (94.0 ypg) and total defense (308.8 ypg). Offensively, the Dukes hold true to a run-first mentality that has guided them to 225.2 rushing yards/game, the second-most in the league.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Sophomore TB Dae'Quan Scott leads the potent running game by averaging 84.6 rushing yards/game and 4.8 yards/carry. Scott has tallied eight rushing scores and is ranked sixth in the CAA in rushing yards. Right behind him, at No. 7, is fellow Duke sophomore TB Jordan Anderson, who has compiled 75.9 yards/game on the ground with six TDs. The Scott/Anderson duo is the top running tandem in the league. JMU has no WRs in the Top 10 in receptions or receiving yards, and QB Jace Edwards also fails to crack the Top-10 in any of the major passing categories.
Sophomore MLB Stephon Robertson headlines the defensive unit with 8.9 tackles/game (No. 10 in CAA), freshman DE Sage Harold paces the league with three forced fumbles and senior DT Lamar Middleton has notched four sacks, tied for sixth in the conference.
GETTING IT DUNGEON: After playing five of their first eight games away from Cowell Stadium, the Wildcats are back at "The Dungeon" for two of the next three games. Since the start of the 2007 season, the Wildcats are 21-3 at Cowell Stadium and have lost to only two schools during this amazing stretch: Northeastern, 31-13, on Nov. 3, 2007, and twice to William & Mary: 38-34, on Oct. 11, 2008, and 13-3 on Nov. 6, 2010. James Madison is 3-3 all-time at Cowell Stadium. The Dukes were last victorious at Mooradian Field on Oct. 14, 2006, 42-23.
FAN-TASTIC SUPPORT: After drawing a season-best 10,554 fans for Homecoming on Oct. 29, the 'Cats are averaging 8,207 fans per home game, filling Cowell Stadium up to 126.26% of capacity, the largest % in the CAA.
•QB Kevin Decker has either passed or rushed for a TD in every start of his career, a span of 10 consecutive games.
•Joey Orlando has recorded multiple receptions in 11 straight games dating back to last season.
•Dontra Peters has secured at least one pass reception in each of the first eight games.
•The Wildcats' defense has recorded at least one INT in each of the last seven games.
•UNH has not yielded a first-quarter point in the last four games.
GRUELING SCHEDULE: In 2010, UNH set a school record by knocking off five ranked opponents en route to a national-leading seventh consecutive appearance in the NCAA D-I FCS Championship tournament. Three of the Wildcats' five victories (Lehigh, Richmond, UMass) in 2011 have come against ranked foes, and their final three opponents (James Madison, Towson, Maine) are ranked. Here is a closer look at the schedule. Completed games include rank at time of game; upcoming matchups feature current ranking:
Date Home/Away Opponent TSN Coaches
9/10 Away Lehigh 14 14
9/24 Away Richmond 5 7
10/1 Home Holy Cross RV RV
10/8 Home Villanova NR NR
10/15 Away William & Mary 16 15
10/22 Neutral UMass 22 RV
10/29 Home Rhode Island NR NR
11/5 Home James Madison 13 13
11/12 Away Towson 14 17
11/19 Home Maine 7 10
Italics = game played already
FIRST IMPRESSIONS: After being victimized by opponents for a combined 40 first-quarter points over the season's first three weeks, the UNH defense has bounced back to surrender only three points in the opening stanza over the last five games, pitching first-quarter shutouts in each of the last four weeks.
LAST TIME OUT: UNH-31, RHODE ISLAND-24 OCT. 29:
DURHAM, N.H. - Senior tight end Sean Cullen recorded a career-high 104 receiving yards and four different players rushed for touchdowns to guide the 10th-ranked UNH football team to Saturday's 31-24 defeat of the University of Rhode Island before a Homecoming crowd of 10,554 at Cowell Stadium.
The win propelled the Wildcats to 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association, while the Rams slipped to 2-6, 1-4 in the CAA.
Dontra Peters led the ground attack with 13 carries for 92 yards and a touchdown. The junior tacked on 68 kick-return yards and a 19-yard reception for a game-leading 179 all-purpose yards.
Kevin Decker rushed for a career-best 78 yards and a touchdown while completing 14 of 21 passes for 257 yards. Chris Setian and R.J. Harris added rushing TDs for the Wildcats in their sixth straight home win against the Rams.
Chris Beranger led UNH in tackles for the fifth time in the last six games after accumulating 13 stops, nine of them solo, his first career sack and a forced fumble. Matt Evans chipped in with nine tackles and an interception.
Rhody appeared ready to take the lead on its initial possession when it advanced to the UNH 3-yard line, but quarterback Bob Bentsen coughed up the 2nd-and-goal snap and Alan Buzbee recovered the fumble for New Hampshire.
The 'Cats then proceeded to go on a 13-play, 97-yard drive that lasted more than five minutes before Setian (10 rushes-27 yards, TD) plunged in for a one-yard TD. The PAT from Mike MacArthur put UNH in front, 7-0, with 5:39 left in the first period. Decker went 5 of 5 for 70 yards on the drive, completing passes to five different receivers, capped by a 20-yard hookup with Cullen that placed the ball at the URI 1.
UNH increased the lead to 14-0 with 8:45 remaining in the opening half courtesy of the first career rushing score for Harris (one rush-23 yards, TD), who took an end around pitch from Decker 23 yards to the end zone. That scoring drive was once again ignited by a Rams' turnover in Wildcats' territory, as defensive tackle Jimmy Vailas tipped Bentsen's pass at the UNH 30 and Evans caught the deflection for his second INT of the year.
Bentsen (20 of 31, 240 yards, TD, INT) bounced back to get Rhode Island on the board with 23 seconds left in the half on a 46-yard pass to Brandon Johnson-Ferrell (seven catches-89 yards). The two-point conversion try failed, so the home team took a 14-6 lead to the halftime break.
Rhody attempted an onside kick to begin the second half, but the ploy backfired when the kick went out of bounds, giving New Hampshire possession at the URI 41. Peters then went to work, carrying once for 37 yards before scoring from four yards out for his fourth rushing score of the season. The PAT bumped the lead to 21-6 only 26 seconds into the third quarter.
Rhode Island then went on an 18-point run over a span of 4:18 in the third quarter to seize the lead. Backup quarterback Steve Probst (three rushes-15 yards, two TDs) reached pay dirt on an 11-yard carry at the 10:09 mark that trimmed the deficit to 21-13, and he called his own number again for a one-yard TD with 7:24 left in the third. Following a successful two-point pass from Bentsen to Anthony Baskerville (five catches-57 yards), the game was deadlocked at 21. The Rams took their only advantage at 24-21 with 5:51 left in the quarter on a 43-yard field goal from Louis Feinstein.
New Hampshire snapped out of its collective funk to reclaim the lead for good, 28-24, on Decker's one-yard run, his team-leading seventh, with 3:58 remaining in the third. The signal caller set up his own score by completing a 12-yard pass to Chris Chandler (two catches, 29 yards) and a 14-yarder to Cullen before erupting for a career-high 40 yard rush to the URI 2.
After a wild third quarter that produced 32 combined points, the only tally of the fourth quarter was MacArthur's 28-yard field goal with 2:25 remaining.
New Hampshire forced a Rhode Island punt with 4:41 remaining in the contest, and the Wildcats never gave the football back, maintaining possession on a final nine-play, 63-yard drive to run out the clock.
MACARTHUR NAMED BSN PUNTER OF THE WEEK-OCT. 31: Punter Mike MacArthur was named the Beyond Sports Network (BSN) Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Punter of the Week and earned honorable mention as the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) National Punter Performer of the Week for his performance in the Wildcats' 31-24 Homecoming victory against Rhode Island last Saturday.
MacArthur punted twice for 99 yards, averaged 49.5 yards/punt, pinned one inside the Rams' 20-yard line and established a career high with a 59-yard punt. For the season, the sophomore is ranked second in the CAA with a 43.7 yards/punt average, including eight punts for 50-plus yards and four inside the opponents' 20. UNH is ranked first in the CAA and second nationally with 39.3 net yards/punt.
He was twice previously recognized with the CFPA FCS Honorable Mention as Punter Performer of the Week following the Toledo game (Sept. 1) and the Lehigh contest (Sept. 10).
Kicking-wise, he is a 11-for-14 in field-goal attempts, ranking first in the CAA with 1.38 FG/game and second in scoring (7.5 ppg). He booted three field goals, a career high, in the win over Villanova on Oct. 8, and he matched a career long with a 47-yard field goal at Gillette Stadium in the Colonial Clash victory against UMass on Oct. 22.
CULLEN NAMED CFPA TIGHT END PERFORMER OF WEEK-OCT. 31: Tight end Sean Cullen was named the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) Division I FCS National Tight End Performer of the Week on Oct. 31. Cullen amassed a career-high 104 receiving yards in the Wildcats' 31-24 defeat of Rhode Island on Oct. 29 at Cowell Stadium. Cullen made five receptions, averaged 20.8 yards per catch and notched a career-high 43-yard grab on a 3rd-and-12 play late in the contest to help UNH run out the clock. For the season, the senior has eight catches for 162 yards and a touchdown.
•LB Matt Evans needs 11 tackles to move into 10th place in school single-season history and 13 tackles to move into 10th place all-time at UNH.
•QB Kevin Decker is 279 passing yards away from No. 10 on UNH's all-time single-season list.
•WR R.J. Harris needs 17 receiving yards for 500 this season.
•RB/KR Dontra Peters needs 66 more kick-return yards for 1,000 in his career.
EVANS APPROACHING TOP 10 IN TACKLES AT UNH: With his FCS-leading 106 tackles and 276 career stops, junior MLB Matt Evans is quickly approaching the UNH Top 10 in both departments. Here is a look at Evans' bid for the record books:
1. Steve Doig (1981) 195
8. Jeff Pammer (2005) 123
9. Scott Curtis (1986) 122
10. Neal Zonfrelli (1985) 117
Matt Evans (2011) 106
1. Steve Doig (1978-81) 434
T-9. Brett Bashaw (1996-2000) 297
Romande Carter (1993-96) 297
10. Dino Vasso (2007-10) 289
Matt Evans (2009-11) 276
EVANS LEADS NATION IN SOLO STOPS: Junior preseason All-America MLB Matt Evans leads the FCS in solo tackles/game (8.4), is tied for second in tackles/game (13.3) and his 106 total tackles are tied for fourth in the nation.
Evans has posted double-digit tackles in six of his eight games this year and in 17 of his last 21 games. He set a career benchmark with a CAA season-high 24-tackle performance in the victory at 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' 45-43 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.
In the Colonial Clash victory over UMass (27-21) on Oct. 22, Evans notched a game-high 13 tackles -all solo- and was subsequently named the CAA Defensive Player of the Week, a College Sporting News All-Star and the Beyond Sports Network Defensive Player of the Week.
SAFETY IS BERANGEROUS: Sophomore FS Chris Beranger has proven to be more than just Robin to Matt Evans's Batman in 2011. While Evans leads the CAA (T-2nd in nation) in tackles, Beranger is second in the league with 12.0 tackles/game (7th in the FCS) and 6.9 solo tackles/game (T-4th in FCS). The Winthrop, Mass., native has led the Wildcats in tackles in five of the last six games, including 13 stops in the Oct. 29 Homecoming victory over Rhode Island. Beranger tacked on his first career sack and a forced fumble to earn honorable mention as the CFPA National Defensive Back Performer of the Week. Beranger previously recorded a career-high 17 stops in the win at Richmond on Sept. 24, notched16 tackles in the loss at William & Mary on Oct. 15 and topped the 'Cats with 14 tackles in the Colonial Clash victory over UMass on Oct. 22.
DECKER SETTING SIGHTS ON SINGLE-SEASON TOP 10: Kevin Decker's CAA-leading 2,294 passing yards have him on the cusp of reaching the Top 10 in UNH single-season history. He is 279 yards away from Ryan Day, who threw for 2,573 yards in 1999. Here is a look at where Decker stacks up:
Single-Season Passing Yards
1. Ricky Santos (2005) 3,797
8. Ryan Day (2001) 2,605
9. Mike Granieri (2003) 2,595
10. Ryan Day (1999) 2,573
Kevin Decker (2011) 2,294
ORLANDO'S MAGIC HANDS: Junior WR Joey Orlando leads UNH's potent receiving corps in receptions (40/3rd in CAA), rec. yards (531/T-4th CAA), and rec. yards/game (66.4/3rd in CAA). He is the only Wildcat with multiple receptions in all eight games this season and 11 straight games overall.
"INSIDE WILDCAT COUNTRY" NOW APPEARING ON WBIN-TV: The brand new television show, "Inside Wildcat Country", returns to WBIN-TV this Saturday night at 9:30 p.m.. The program is completely devoted to UNH Athletics, complete with features, highlights, interviews and much more regarding the Wildcats. This week's episode includes a feature on UNH defensive coordinator John Lyons and his daughter, Wildcat field hockey player Kyle Lyons. While the Wildcats' football team takes on James Madison this weekend, the field hockey squad is the No. 1 seed and host of the America East Field Hockey Championships this weekend. Additonally, the program will give a behind-the-scenes fans' account of the Colonial Clash at Gillette Stadium.
"Inside Wildcat Country" is a presentation of UNH Wildcat Productions, the athletic department's video and television entity. The department oversees video streaming, video features, video replay and manages relationships with local and national television providers.
WBIN-TV offers both entertainment and public affairs programming to an audience that encompasses 2.4 million households representing nearly six million viewers both over the air and through all major cable systems throughout New Hampshire and the Boston DMA.