|QB Kevin Decker|
|36 of 43, 389 yards, TD|
TOWSON, Md. – Kevin Decker (Armonk, N.Y.) threw for a touchdown, rushed for two more and accumulated 389 passing yards, but the seventh-ranked University of New Hampshire football team was outscored 56-42 by 12th-ranked Towson University in a CAA football shootout Saturday afternoon at Unitas Stadium.
Towson, which defeated UNH for the first time in eight all-time meetings, upped its record to 8-2 overall and 6-1 in the CAA, tied for first place in the league with Maine. The Wildcats, who saw their three-game winning streak snapped, fell to 7-3, 5-2 in the CAA.
Decker completed 36 of 43 passes for 389 yards with a TD and three interceptions. He added a team-leading 75 rushing yards and two scores on 12 attempts.
Towson freshman running back Terrance West gashed his way to a career-high 261 rushing yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries to lead a potent Tigers' attack that racked up 517 yards of total offense.
New Hampshire outgained Towson with a season-high 611 yards, but committed four turnovers in the contest.
Matt Evans (Hanover, Mass.) amassed a game-high 19 tackles to lead UNH, moving into third place on the school's all-time, single-season list with 142 stops, 14 tackles behind his 2010 total, which is the second-most in University history.
UNH scored on its initial drive, chalking up 84 yards on nine plays before Dontra Peters (Annapolis, Md./ nine rushes-32 yards, TD/two catches-five yards) carried in for a six-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead with 11:22 left in the first quarter. Decker was 5 of 5 for 59 yards through the air on the drive, highlighted by a 37-yard completion to Justin Mello (Dartmouth, Mass./four catches, 51 yards, TD) deep down the right sideline to the Tigers' 12.
Towson immediately responded with a 73-yard TD run from West with 9:48 left in the first to tie the game, 7-7. West became the first back to gain 70-plus yards from scrimmage against the Wildcats since Tim Hightower's 72-yard scamper for Richmond on Sept. 22, 2006.
The Wildcats advanced into Tigers' territory on their second drive before Decker was stuffed for a one-yard loss on 4th-and-1 from the Towson 43. On the first play of the subsequent drive, Grant Enders (14-for-18, 183 yards, 2 TDs, INT) connected with tight end James Oboh (three receptions-97 yards, 2 TDs), who bounced off a hit along the right sideline and raced to the end zone for a 56-yard touchdown and a 14-7 Tigers' lead with 7:45 left in the quarter.
That lead ballooned to 21-7 courtesy of a 45-yard interception return for a touchdown by cornerback Tye Smith, who snared Decker's pass to the left flat and dashed untouched for the score with 6:54 left in the opening stanza, marking the first pick-six against New Hampshire since Terrell McMoore of Northern Iowa on Dec. 6, 2008.
Decker pieced together his second 5-for-5 passing drive, accounting for 32 of the 51 yards on a possession that culminated in a five-yard TD strike to Mello that trimmed Towson's advantage to 21-14 with 2:37 remaining in opening stanza. Decker, who had to slither out of danger in the backfield on 3rd-and-3 from the 5, lofted his 17th touchdown pass of the year to Mello in the back right-hand corner of the end zone.
West notched his second rushing TD of the day, forging his way in from two yards out to cap a nine-play, 73-yard drive that lifted Towson's lead to 28-14 with 13:13 left in the half.
Enders and Oboh hooked up for their second TD pass-and-catch combination of the contest, this time an 11-yard connection, with 9:38 left in the half to expand the lead to 35-14.
Back came the 'Cats, with Decker orchestrating a six-play, 38-yard drive, completing back-to-back passes to tight end Sean Cullen (Naples, Fla./five catches-95 yards) for 17 and 22 yards, respectively, in the middle of the field to advance to Towson's 13. Chris Chandler (Wakefield, Mass./two catches-20 yards) was on the receiving end of a 12-yard pass to the 1, and Decker called his own number on 2nd-and-goal to slice the deficit to 35-21 with 6:51 left in the half.
The Tigers bumped their lead back to three scores when West rambled 69 yards for his third TD of the game for a 42-21 lead with 5:23 left in the half.
Chris Setian (East Longmeadow, Mass./nine rushes-59 yards/five catches-49 yards) put a ribbon on an eight-play, 85-yard drive with his third rushing TD of the year, a four-yard carry with 2:25 left in the second quarter to bring UNH within 42-28 at the intermission.
The halftime break failed to slow down the home team, evidenced by Derrick Joseph's 93-yard kickoff return for a TD on the opening play of the third quarter for a 49-28 lead. It was the first kick return for a score yielded by the Wildcats since Sept. 5, 2009.
West tallied his fourth rushing score of the game, and nation-leading 25th of the season, on a two-yard carry with 6:21 left in the third to make it 56-35.
Nico Steriti (Toms River, N.J./10 rushes-56 yards, TD/eight catches-90 yards) provided the final points of the wild night with a three-yard touchdown scamper with 5:04 left in the game.
The Wildcats wrap up the regular season on Senior Day at Cowell Stadium against arch-rival Maine on Saturday, Nov. 19, at 12 p.m. For tickets and more information, visit www.unhwildcats.com or call (603) 862-4000, extension 5.