No. 18/19 New Hampshire (2-1, 0-0 CAA) at No. 5/5 Old Dominion (3-0, 0-0 CAA)
Sept. 22, 2012 • 12:00 p.m. • S.B. Ballard Stadium • Norfolk, Va.
Television: Comcast SportsNet (New England/Mid-Atlantic/Philadelphia)
Brent Harris (play-by-play) • Brad Jackson (analyst)
Radio: Wildcat Sports Radio Network
Bob Lipman (play-by-play) • Chris Chandler (analyst)
•The Wildcats are 8-5 in conference openers under head coach Sean McDonnell. UNH has won three of its last four CAA openers and will open the league schedule on the road for the eighth straight year.
•UNH head coach Sean McDonnell, who is two wins shy of 100 for his career, is looking to improve on a 4-10 all-time record in Virginia. The Wildcats, who are meeting the Monarchs for the first time ever, have won two of their last three games in the Commonwealth.
•This will be the first and only scheduled meeting between UNH and ODU as CAA members. The Monarchs depart FCS football to join Conference USA of the FBS in 2013. Sean McDonnell and ODU head coach Bobby Wilder, a former all-conference quarterback and longtime assistant coach at Maine, worked together as graduate assistants at Boston College in 1988.
•Senior MLB Matt Evans moved into second place all-time at UNH in career tackles (361) with his team-leading nine tackles last week in a win against CCSU. He is 73 tackles behind all-time leader Steve Doig (434, 1978-81).
•The 331 rushing yards accumulated against CCSU last week were the most totaled by the Wildcats since chalking up 417 yards against Stony Brook on Sept. 16, 2006.
•The 121 passing yards yielded to CCSU were the fewest surrendered by a UNH defense since the 'Cats held William & Mary to 30 passing yards on Nov. 6, 2010.
•Junior defensive end Cody Muller has forced fumbles in back-to-back games.
•UNH leads the CAA in turnover margin (+5) and ranks second in sacks (7/29 yards).
•Matt Evans has notched team-leading nine tackles in each of the first three games. He had never previously gone back-to-back games without double-digit tackles in his college career.
116 WEEKS IN A ROW: With a No. 18 ranking in The Sports Network Poll, UNH has now been ranked in the Top 25 for 116 consecutive weeks. The nation's second-longest streak, which dates back to Sept. 13, 2004, has been bettered only by Montana (196 weeks). Delaware, at a distant 33 weeks, has the second-longest ranked tenure in the CAA.
TALE OF THE TAPE:
Totals (CAA Rank) UNH ODU
Total Offense 407.0 (3) 618.3 (1)
Rush Offense 226.0 (3) 206.7 (4)
Pass Offense 181.0 (6) 411.7 (1)
Scoring Offense 29.3 (5) 57.3 (1)
Total Defense 330.7 (8) 222.0 (1)
Rush Defense 145.3 (7) 99.7 (1)
Pass Defense 185.3 (6) 122.3 (2)
Scoring Defense 23.7 (8) 14.7 (T-2)
Possession Avg. 29:09 (7) 29:42 (5)
Sacks Made/Yards 7/29 (2) 10/74 (1)
Penalties Against/Yards 19/172 (6) 35/286 (11)
Punts/Net Avg. 13/29.5 (10) 7/32.4 (7)
Turnover Differential +5 (1) +2 (T-4)
3rd Down Conversion% 50.0 (3) 46.5 (4)
4th Down Conversion% 0 for 7 (11) 9 for 10 (2)
Red Zone Offense% 92.3 (2) 86.4 (6)
SCOUTING THE MONARCHS: The powerful Monarchs have been setting school records on top of school records this season. Sophomore QB Taylor Heinicke reset his own school record last Saturday when he threw for seven touchdowns in a 70-14 rout of Campbell. The 70 points scored on Foreman Field at S.B. Ballard Stadium trumps the previous record, set just two weeks prior when ODU defeated Duquesne at home, 57-23. Old Dominion has outscored opponents 80-41 in the first half and 92-3 in the second half of its first three contests. The Monarchs have not allowed a second-half score since surrendering a field goal to Duquesne in week one. ODU has blanked opponents in the first quarter (45-0) and the third quarter (55-0). The Monarchs are now 30-8 since restarting their football program in 2009 under head coach Bobby Wilder. Wilder has his offense atop the CAA rankings in points per game (57.3) and yards per game (618.3), including 782 total yards in their last contest against Campbell.
OLD DOMINION PLAYERS TO WATCH: Taylor Heinicke has been a standout quarterback since arriving at Old Dominion. The sophomore was named the College Football Performance Awards (CFPA) National Performer of the Year, CFPA Freshman Performer of the Year and was awarded the CFPA Quarterback Award last season. Originally from Atlanta, Heinicke was named Georgia's Old Spice High School Player of the Year as a senior. Heinicke is 82 of 124 for 1,191 yards passing this season. He's added 14 TDs on top of four interceptions. Heinicke has connected with sophomore receiver Blair Roberts 17 times for 226 yards and four touchdowns to start the season. Old Dominion's rushing attack has been referred to as Shake (Tyree Lee), Rattle (Gus Harper) and Roll (Colby Goodwyn). Lee's big game came in the season opener against Duquesne (nine attempts for 113 yards and two touchdowns). Goodwyn has been the team's most consistent back, averaging 5.5 yards per carry and Harper has been a key part in catching passes out of the backfield (six for 102 yards). Senior linebacker Craig Wilkins anchors the defense with 17 total tackles, including four stops for loss, and two sacks on the season. Linebacker Rodney Hunter leads the team in interceptions (two) and safety Devon Simmons leads the secondary in tackles (10).
LAST TIME OUT: UNH-43, CCSU-10 -SEPT. 15
DURHAM, N.H. – Nico Steriti rushed for a team-leading 104 yards, and four other University of New Hampshire running backs scored touchdowns as the 18th-ranked Wildcats knocked off Central Connecticut State, 43-10, in Saturday afternoon's home opener at Cowell Stadium. UNH, which claimed its eighth consecutive victory in a home opener, upped its record to 2-1 on the season by defeating CCSU (0-3) for the seventh time in seven all-time meetings. Steriti (12 rushes-104 yards) paced a Wildcats' rushing attack that accumulated 331 yards and averaged 6.4 yards/rush. Jimmy Owens carried 11 times for a career-high 91 yards and two touchdowns, and Chris Setian tallied a rushing score as part of his 11-carry, 81-yard effort. It was the most rushing yards by a UNH team since Sept. 16, 2006, when the 'Cats ran for 417 yards in a win over Stony Brook. The five rushing TDs are the most since Nov. 12, 2011, at Towson. Making his first career start, quarterback Andy Vailas went 14-for-20 for 122 yards and a TD. R.J. Harris pulled down six catches for 67 yards to lead all UNH receivers. New Hampshire had four interceptions and limited the Blue Devils to 234 yards of total offense. Nick Cefalo grabbed the first two interceptions of his career, while Chris Houston and Steven Thames added picks. Matt Evans notched a team-high nine tackles, and Matt Kaplan added four tackles, one sack and two fumble recoveries. The Wildcats built a 6-0 lead with 3:48 left in the opening quarter on a five-yard touchdown run from Vailas. The signal caller concluded an 11-play, 79-yard drive by running off right tackle and breaking a tackle at the goal line. The Blue Devils drew within, 6-3, when Juan Duque booted a 33-yard field goal with 3:43 left in the first to punctuate a 17-play, 53-yard drive that lasted over seven minutes. UNH's lead increased to 13-3 on a 30-yard TD run from Jared Allison (two rushes-22 yards, TD) with 1:58 left in the opening quarter. Allison, on his first collegiate touch, took an end around to the left side, switched directions when he was hemmed in and dashed around the right corner to the end zone. The 'Cats bumped their advantage to 20-3 with 11:58 left in the first half when Vailas completed a third-and-one pass to tight end Harold Spears (three catches-14 yards, TD) in the back of the end zone. It was Spears' first career scoring reception and put a ribbon on a nine-play, 80-yard drive. Mike MacArthur drilled his first field-goal attempt of the season, a 28-yarder on the final play of the half, to give New Hampshire a 23-3 halftime lead. CCSU opened the second half with the ball, but its drive ended on a Cefalo interception, his second of the game. Owens scored six plays later on a 5-yard run at 10:29 of the third to make it 30-3. The teams traded possessions throughout the remainder of the third quarter. Just 38 seconds into the fourth, Setian found a hole off right tackle and raced 30 yards for a TD with 14:22 left in the contest to stake UNH to a 37-3 lead. On the ensuing drive, Thames picked off pass to give the 'Cats good field position at the CCSU 9-yard line. Owens scored his second TD of the day on a 6-yard run just two plays later to extend it to 43-3. The Blue Devils would conclude scoring as David Rose recovered a UNH fumble and returned it 38 yards with 1:08 left. Andrew Clements completed 10 of 21 passes for 98 yards and three INTs for CCSU. Rob Hollomon led the Devils' rushing attack with 47 yards on 18 carries.
ALLISON ROAD: Redshirt freshman Jared Allison scored a 30-yard TD on his first collegiate touch in the Sept. 15 win against CCSU. Allison took an end around to the left, reversed direction when he was hemmed in, then burst around the right end for the score on the Wildcats' longest rushing score of the season.
MULLING IT OVER: Junior defensive end Cody Muller has forced fumbles in back-to-back games, which coincide with his first two career starts. Muller, who missed all of last season due to injury, recovered a fumble that sealed an upset win at No. 9 Villanova when he was a redshirt freshman in 2010.
WILD EX-BEAR: ODU head coach Bobby Wilder was hired in 2007 to resurrect a football program that had been absent for 69 years. Wilder is a Maine native who played for the Black Bears. An All-New England quarterback, Wilder captained Maine to the Yankee Conference championship as a senior and graduated as the school's all-time leading passer with 4,493 yards (currently No. 6 all-time). Wilder worked as an assistant coach at Maine for 17 years. Prior to that, he and UNH coach Sean McDonnell worked side-by-side as graduate assistant coaches at Boston College in 1988.
EVANS LEADING WAY IN TACKLES: Reigning Buck Buchanan Award winner Matt Evans is leading the Wildcats in tackles with 27 stops through three games. The senior co-captain has paced UNH with nine tackles apiece in the first three contests. Prior to this three-game stretch, Evans had never gone back-to-back games without posting double-digit tackles during his college career.
IMPOSING PASSING DEFENSE: As the 'Cats prepare to tangle with the top offense in the CAA, they'll be coming off their best pass-defensive showing in two seasons. The 121 passing yards issued to CCSU on Sept. 15 were the fewest allowed since William & Mary managed a mere 30 passing yards in a 13-3 triumph against UNH on Nov. 6, 2010.
LEAGUE OPENERS IN COACH MAC ERA: The Wildcats have fared well in CAA openers during the first 13 years under head coach Sean McDonnell. UNH is 8-5 in those contests, including victories in three of its last four matchups. Saturday's game in Norfolk represents the eighth consecutive year that New Hampshire is opening up its conference season on the road. UNH is 5-2 in that stretch.
RUSHING SENSATION: The 2011 Wildcats failed to eclipse the 250-yard rushing mark in any game. Already in 2012, UNH has rushed for 252 yards in an Aug. 30 win at Holy Cross and, in last Saturday's win over CCSU, the 'Cats barreled their way to 331 ground yards on 52 carries (6.4 yards/rush). That was the highest rushing total by a UNH squad since a 417-yard outburst vs. Stony Brook on Sept. 16, 2006. The three-headed monster of Nico Steriti (12-104), Jimmy Owens (11-91, two TDs) and Chris Setian (11-81, TD) did the bulk of the work, with both Owens and Setian establishing career highs while Steriti notched his second career 100-yard rushing performance.
TROUBLES IN THE OLD DOMINION: While this is the first meeting between UNH and ODU, the Wildcats have visited the "Old Dominion" state 14 previous times in the Coach Mac era. UNH is 4-10 all-time in the Commonwealth and only 2-10 in CAA/Atlantic-10 games. The good news is that those two conference wins have come in the Wildcats' last three visits to Virginia: a 28-14 victory at James Madison on Oct. 16, 2010, and a 45-43 defeat of Richmond on Sept. 24, 2011.
SOPHS ARE TWICE AS NICE: Sophomores Matt Kaplan and Nick Cefalo both enjoyed career firsts –and seconds- in UNH's victory over CCSU. Kaplan, a defensive tackle, registered the first two fumble recoveries of his career; Cefalo, a safety, notched his first two career interceptions. In all, the Wildcats forced six turnovers and lead the CAA and are tied for ninth in FCS football with a plus-5 turnover margin.
WELCOME TO THE DUNGEON: Since the start of the 2007 season, the Wildcats are 25-3 at Cowell Stadium. The 'Cats have posted an 19-1 mark in their last 20 home games and have gone unbeaten at Cowell Stadium in two of the last three seasons. They've 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. In between the two defeats to the Tribe, UNH set a school record with 12 straight home victories. The current home winning streak is seven games.
NON-CONFERENCE HOME DOMINANCE: Under Coach Mac, the Wildcats have posted a 17-1 regular-season non-conference record at Mooradian Field. The last non-league opponent to win in Durham during the regular season was Gardner-Webb, 38-35, on Nov. 11, 2000. New Hampshire has rattled off 15 straight non-conference home regular-season wins since then. The last non-CAA team to knock off UNH in the postseason was Northern Iowa, which registered a 24-21 NCAA quarterfinal victory in The Dungeon on Dec. 3, 2005.
Since then, the 'Cats have tallied 10 straight non-conference home victories.
•Matt Evans, who moved into No. 2 on UNH's all-time tackles list Sept. 15, needs 73 tackles to match all-time leader Steve Doig. Here is a look at his road to the all-time career-tackles mark.
1. Steve Doig (1978-81) 434
2. Matt Evans (2009-present) 361
•Joey Orlando needs 188 receiving yards to reach UNH's top 10, and he is 16 receptions short of the top 10 in that category:
Career Receiving Yards
10. Michael Taylor (1999-2002) 1,893
Joey Orlando (2009-present) 1,705
10. Mike Gallagher (1989-92) 150
Joey Orlando (2009-present) 134
•Dontra Peters needs 108 all-purpose yards to reach 3,000 for his career.
•Joey Orlando needs 83 yards to reach 2,000 all-purpose yards for his career.
•R.J. Harris is 56 receiving yards shy of 1,000 for his career.
•Sean McDonnell is two wins away from 100 for his career.
•Chris Setian needs 159 rushing yards to reach the 1,000-yard career mark.