DURHAM, N.H. - Dontra Peters (Annapolis, Md.) ran for a pair of touchdowns and Matt Evans (Hanover, Mass.) notched 17 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery as the ninth-ranked University of New Hampshire football team topped No. 13 James Madison, 28-10, in a CAA conference game Saturday afternoon at Cowell Stadium.
The Wildcats improved to 7-2 overall, 5-1 in the league, by winning for the seventh time in eight weeks, while the Dukes dropped to 5-4, 3-3 in the CAA.
Peters carried 16 times for 87 yards, registering a three-yard TD run in the first quarter and a nine-yard scoring scamper in the second quarter. The junior added four receptions, tied for the team high, for 24 yards.
Kevin Decker (Armonk, N.Y.) went 21 of 31 for 186 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Sean Cullen (Naples, Fla.) was on the receiving end of Decker's lone scoring toss, a 19-yard hookup in the final minute of the first half.
After yielding 10 first-quarter points, the UNH defense shut out JMU for the rest of the contest. The Dukes, who gained 102 rushing yards on 11 carries in the opening stanza, were held to a mere 34 yards on 23 carries over the next three periods.
Dukes quarterback Jace Edwards completed 18 of 31 passes for 159 yards and a TD, but he was picked off twice –once by Chris Houston (Harrisburg, Pa./four tackles) and once by Kyle Flemings (Forty Fort, Pa./seven tackles).
Dae'Quan Scott rushed 13 times for 111 yards and a touchdown, chalking up 86 yards on five first-quarter carries but just 25 yards on his subsequent eight carries.
R.J. Harris (Odenton, Md.) returned the opening kickoff 23 yards and, following a personal-foul penalty on James Madison, the ball was spotted at the UNH 49. Harris (three catches-51 yards) then snared a 20-yard post pass from Decker down to the JMU 31 before Peters carried three consecutive times, gaining 23 yards, 11 yards and then three yards for the TD. The Wildcats converted the two-point try on a pass from Decker to Chris Setian (East Longmeadow, Mass./eight rushes-39 yards) for an 8-0 lead with 13:24 left in the first quarter.
Scott's 56-yard run highlighted the Dukes' opening drive, which culminated in a 25-yard field goal from Cameron Starke with 10:59 left in the first that reduced New Hampshire's lead to 8-3.
Mike MacArthur (North Hampton, N.H.) kicked a 36-yard field goal with 7:38 remaining in the first to stake the 'Cats to an 11-3 lead. Harris (78 kick-return yards) set up the scoring drive by returning the kickoff 55 yards to the JMU 25.
James Madison quickly retaliated, with Scott again leading the way. The sophomore tailback recorded a 20-yard rush to the UNH 36. Later in the drive, Edwards rolled to his left and connected with tight end Brian Barlow (four catches-44 yards, TD) for a 17-yard touchdown, slicing the New Hampshire lead to 11-10 with 3:39 left in the quarter.
The Wildcats struck once more in the opening period when Decker hit Cullen on a corner route in the right-hand side of the end zone on 3rd-and-10 from the 19 for an 18-10 lead with 54 seconds to go in the first.
UNH upped the lead to 25-10 with 11:22 left in the first half by going on a methodical nine-play, 75-yard scoring drive that lasted three-and-a-half minutes. Setian's 26-yard carry put the 'Cats on JMU's 27. Joey Orlando (Bethlehem, Pa./four catches-32 yards) made a 17-yard catch on a slant to the Dukes' 16, and Peters did the rest of the work with a seven-yard rush followed by a nine-yard TD carry.
An apparent 17-yard Edwards-to-Barlow scoring strike with 3:54 left in the third quarter was negated by a holding penalty. On the very next play, Flemings recorded his second interception of the year, stepping in front of the receiver on a deep post pass to preserve the 15-point cushion.
The dominant New Hampshire defense stuffed Scott for a one-yard loss on 4th-and-1 from the UNH 2 with 13:53 left in the game. Chris Beranger (Winthrop, Mass./nine tackles) and Rod Walker (Portsmouth, N.H./five tackles) combined on the critical stop.
The Dukes were once again stymied on downs when Edwards' 4th-and-4 pass from the UNH 30 went incomplete with 7:40 left to play.
Evans iced the game by stripping JMU tailback Jordan Anderson (13 rushes-50 yards) on a rushing play, recovering the fumble at the Dukes' 48 with 1:21 left.
UNH is now tied with Towson and Maine for first place in the CAA with matching 5-1 records. The Tigers dumped the Black Bears, 40-30, on Saturday, handing Maine its first league loss.
The Wildcats will face both Towson and Maine to conclude the regular season, starting with a 3:30 p.m. game at Unitas Stadium against the Tigers next Saturday before concluding the season on Senior Day against the Black Bears at Cowell Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 19, at 12 p.m. For tickets, CLICK HERE or call (603) 862-4000, extension 5.