November 9, 2011

GAME DAY: Seventh-ranked Football Visits No. 12 Towson on Saturday

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No. 7/10 New Hampshire (7-2 overall, 5-1 CAA) at No. 12/12 Towson (7-2 overall, 5-1 CAA)
Nov. 12, 2011 • 3:30 p.m. • Johnny Unitas Stadium • Towson, Md.
Radio: Wildcat Sports Radio Network
Jim Jeannotte (play-by-play), Bob Lipman (analyst)

109 WEEKS AND COUNTING: UNH is ranked in the Top 25 for a CAA-best 109th straight week, the nation's second-longest streak that dates back to Sept. 13, 2004.  William & Mary, which had the CAA's second-longest streak of 46 consecutive weeks in the Top 25, fell out of the poll this week, leaving Delaware (26 weeks) a distant second among the league's longest ranked squads.  Montana's run of 189 consecutive weeks leads the country:

UNH-TOWSON ALL-TIME SERIES (WILDCATS LEAD 7-0): Towson has never defeated New Hampshire, and since the two became CAA rivals in 2004, the Wildcats have outscored the Tigers by an average of 52-17 in five meetings. Last year's 19-point victory was the closest margin in the Sean McDonnell era.
    
 
TALE OF THE TAPE:
Totals (CAA Rank)         UNH           TOW
Total Offense                434.8 (2)    438.9 (1)    
Rush Offense               156.6 (5)    238.4 (1)    
Pass Offense                278.2 (1)    200.4 (6)      
Scoring Offense             33.0 (2)    32.9 (3)      
Total Defense             431.9 (11)    345.8 (3)    
Rush Defense             164.1 (10)    146.6 (5)      
Pass Defense              267.8 (11)    199.2 (4)    
Scoring Defense            30.0 (10)    23.7 (5)    
Possession Avg.           26:28 (11)    32:08 (1)    
Sacks/Yards Lost         23/142 (9)    19/103 (7)    
Sacks Made/Yards        20/123 (6)    17/129 (T-8)    
Penalties/Yards            50/443 (7)    45/372 (3)
Punts/Net Avg.           28/37.2 (3)    23/36.3 (5)    
Turnover Differential            -2 (8)    +5 (3)
3rd Down Conversion%    48.2 (2)    52.5 (1)    
4th Down Conversion%    42.9 (8)    60.0 (3)    
Red Zone Offense%       85.7 (T-2)    84.6 (4)    

SCOUTING THE TIGERS: Towson, picked to finish last in the preseason CAA Coaches Poll, has easily been the overwhelming surprise of the league. After managing only three wins in his first two years at the helm, third-year head coach Rob Ambrose has the Tigers tied with the Wildcats and Maine Black Bears with matching 5-1 records atop the league standings. Prior to winning five of its six CAA games in '11, Towson had dropped 26 of its previous 28 league encounters. The Tigers have notched four victories over ranked opponents, and their only losses have come at the hands of FBS school Maryland and defending national runner-up Delaware.


 
PLAYERS TO WATCH: True freshman RB Terrance West, the reigning CAA Offensive Player of the Week, leads the country in scoring (14 ppg) and has rushed for 100-plus yards in five straight games. In last week's victory over Maine, West carried a season-high 21 times for a career-best 183 yards and three TDs. His 21 touchdowns are eight more than the CAA's second-leading scorer, Andrew Pierce of Delaware. QB Grant Enders is among the top signal callers in the league, averaging 221.4 yards of total offense/game (4th), 184.0 passing yards/game (5th) with a passing efficency rating of 145.4 (3rd). Junior FS Jordan Dangerfield is tied for sixth in the CAA with 9.3 tackles/game, trailing only UNH's Chris Beranger among all league DBs. Preseason All-CAA defensive end Frank Beltre ranks third in the league among DE/DL with 5.7 tackles/game, including 4.0 sacks.

CULLEN ALONG NICELY: Senior TE Sean Cullen has become a focal point of the offense in recent weeks. After totaling only one reception for 17 yards through the first five games, the Naples, Fla., native has nabbed nine passes for 169 yards (42.3 yards/game) and two TDs in the last four games.

PAYDIRT PETERS: With his two rushing TDs last week, RB Dontra Peters has accumulated 15 career rushing scores, matching the rest of the current Wildcat ground-gainers combined. The junior has tallied five rushing scores in the last three weeks after notching just one over the first six contests.

BEST IN CAA OVER LAST EIGHT YEARS: With last week's 28-10 victory over James Madison, UNH moved into a deadlock with the Dukes for the top conference record since the beginning of the 2004 season.  Here is a look at the current standings among schools who have been part of FCS's toughest conference over that period:
School                 Conf.    Overall
UNH                   43-18    70-24
James Madison    43-18    66-28
Richmond           36-25    60-33
Massachusetts    34-18    51-28
Villanova            35-28    53-37
William & Mary    32-29    50-38
Delaware            31-30    55-40
Maine                 31-31    44-43
Rhode Island       15-46    26-59
Towson               15-47    31-55    

PICK-SIXERS VS TOWSON: Over the last three years, UNH has posted four pick-sixes vs Towson. Here is a look at the INT-turned-TDs for the Wildcats against the Tigers:
Date    Player    Home/Away    Yards
10/25/08    Ryan Hinds    Home    74
10/3/09    Dino Vasso    Away    31
10/3/09    Ryan McGuinness    Away    96
11/20/10    Matt Evans    Home    25    

STREAKING:
•QB Kevin Decker has either passed or rushed for a TD in every start of his career, a span of 11 consecutive games.
Joey Orlando has recorded multiple receptions in 12 straight games dating back to last season.
•Dontra Peters has secured at least one pass reception in each of the first nine games.
•The Wildcats' defense has recorded at least one INT in each of the last eight games.

GETTING IT DUNGEON: Since the start of the 2007 season, the Wildcats are 22-3 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.

FAN-TASTIC SUPPORT: ­ The Wildcats are averaging 7,272 fans per home game, filling Cowell Stadium up to 111.9% of capacity, the largest % in the CAA.
 
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. On Saturday, the Wildcats attempt to match that record vs. No. 12/12 Towson. UNH has knocked off four ranked teams (Lehigh, Richmond, UMass, James Madison), posting a 4-1 mark against Top-25 foes in '11. The home finale against rival Maine will mean seven of the 10 FCS games on the schedule will come against teams ranked at the time of the game and an eighth contest came vs. an FBS program (Toledo).

LAST TIME OUT: UNH-28, JAMES MADISON-10  NOV. 5:
DURHAM, N.H. - Dontra Peters ran for a pair of touchdowns and Matt Evans 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 Nov. 5 at Cowell Stadium. The Wildcats improved to 7-2 overall, 5-1 in the CAA, by winning for the seventh time in eight weeks, while the Dukes dropped to 5-4, 3-3 in the league.
    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 for 24 yards.
    Kevin Decker went 21 of 31 for 186 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Sean Cullen (two catches-24 yards, TD) was on the receiving end of Decker's lone scoring toss, a 19-yard hookup in the final minute of the first quarter.
    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 (four tackles) and once by Kyle Flemings (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 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 (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 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 (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 (nine tackles) and Rod Walker (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.
 
EVANS NAMED CFPA LINEBACKER OF WEEK-NOV. 7: UNH linebacker Matt Evans was named the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) Linebacker Performer of the Week on Nov. 7. Evans racked up a game-high 17 tackles, a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the then No. 9 Wildcats' 28-10 victory over then No. 13 James Madison on Nov. 5 at Cowell Stadium. Evans leads the CAA and is second nationally in tackles/game (13.7) while he leads the country in solo tackles/game (8.4) and overall solo tackles (76). The junior's 123 tackles tie him for eighth place in UNH single-season history, and his 293 career stops rank 10th all-time at the University.

SACK PACK-NOV. 5: UNH amassed a season-high five sacks in the victory over James Madison on Nov. 5, with five different players -Alan Buzbee, Matt Evans, James Jenkins, Sean McCann and Jared Smith- collecting one apiece. Surprisingly, none of the above was Brian McNally, the team leader with 6.5 sacks on the year and 27.5 in his career.
 
MILESTONE WATCH:
•LB Matt Evans needs eight tackles to take sole possession of fourth place in school single-season history and seventh place all-time at the University.
•QB Kevin Decker is 93 passing yards away from No. 10 on UNH's all-time single-season list.
•FS Chris Beranger is 17 tackles away from 10th place in school single-season history.

EVANS CRACKS UNH'S  TOP 10 IN TACKLES: With his 123 tackles in 2011 and 293 career stops, junior MLB Matt Evans has burst his way into the UNH Top 10 in both single-season and career tackles. Evans is tied for eighth in single-season history, just eight tackles away from claiming sole possession of fourth and 13 tackles away from holding two of the top three single-season totals in Wildcat history. Career-wise, the Hanover, Mass., native is seven tackles away from No. 7 John Clements. Here is a look at Evans' record-setting pace:
Single-Season Tackles
1.    Steve Doig (1981)              195
2.    Matt Evans (2010)              156
3.    Chris Robinson (2003)         136
T-4.    Aaron Thomas (2004)       130
T-4.    Husain Karim (2007)         130
T-4.    Jeff Pammer (2007)          130
7.    Brett Bashaw (2000)           127
T-8.    Matt Evans (2011)        123
T-8.    Jeff Pammer (2005)         123
10.    Scott Curtis (1986)           122
    Chris Beranger (2011)           105    
    
Career Tackles
1.    Steve Doig (1978-81)               434
2.    Jeff Pammer (2004-07)              359
3.    Matt Parent (2005-08)               356
4.    Aaron Thomas (2000-04)           343
5.    Hugo Souza (2007-10)               331
6.    Chris McGrath (1987-91)            322
7.    John Clements (2005-08)            300
T-8.    Brett Bashaw (1996-2000)        297
       Romande Carter (1993-96)          297    
10.    Matt Evans (2009-present)    293

EVANS LEADS NATION IN SOLO STOPS:  Junior preseason All-America MLB Matt Evans leads the FCS in solo tackles/game (8.4), is ranked second nationally in tackles/game (13.7) and his 123 total tackles are good for No. 3 in the nation. He is the CAA leader in all those departments.
    Evans has posted double-digit tackles in seven of his nine games this year and in 18 of his last 22 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. Here is Evans compared to the nation's best:

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 (2nd in nation) in tackles/game, Beranger is second in the league with 11.7 tackles/game (8th in the FCS) and third in the conference with 6.3 solo tackles/game (8th in FCS).  He is just 17 tackles away from breaking into UNH's single-season  Top 10 (see above). The Winthrop, Mass., native has led the Wildcats in tackles in five of the last seven 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 2,480 passing yards have him on the cusp of reaching the Top 10 in UNH single-season history.  He is 93 yards away from Ryan Day (1999) for 10th place, a mere 115 yards shy of No. 9 Mike Granieri (2003), 125 yards from reaching 8th place (Day, 2001) and within 254 yards of seventh (Matt Griffin, 1991).  Here is a look at where Decker stacks up:
                             Year    Passing Yards    
1. Ricky Santos    (2005)    3,797
2. Ricky Santos    (2004)    3,318
3. Ricky Santos    (2006)    3,125
4. R.J. Toman        (2008)    3,110
5. Bob Jean        (1986)    3,035
6. Ricky Santos    (2007)    2,972
7. Matt Griffin    (1991)    2,734
8. Ryan Day         (2001)    2,605
9. Mike Granieri    (2003)    2,595
10. Ryan Day        (1999)    2,573
Kevin Decker        (2011)    2,480

DECKER ADDED TO WALTER PAYTON AWARD WATCH LIST-OCT. 4: UNH senior quarterback Kevin Decker was added to the 2011 Walter Payton Award Watch List for the most outstanding player in the FCS on Oct. 4. Decker, a co-captain, is ranked third nationally in total offense (315.9 yards/game), sixth in the nation in points responsible for/game (16.9), No. 5 in pass efficiency (159.5), 10th in passing yards/game (275.6) and 10th in total passing yards (2,480). The 6-foot-2, 205-pound QB leads the CAA in those departments, is tied for first in TD passes (16) and he's third in the league in completions/game (21.3/17th in FCS).
    A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will vote on the 25th Walter Payton Award after the regular season. The honor will be presented at the FCS national awards banquet Friday night, Jan. 6, in Frisco, Texas.
    Running back Jerry Azumah (1998) and quarterback Ricky Santos (2006) are the two previous Wildcats to garner the Payton Award.

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