September 26, 2012

No. 20 Football meets No. 8 Delaware in The Dungeon on Saturday (12 p.m.)

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No. 20/22 New Hampshire (2-2, 0-1 CAA) vs No. 8/8 Delaware (4-0, 1-0 CAA)
Sept. 29, 2012 • 12:00 p.m. • Cowell Stadium • Durham, N.H.
Radio: Wildcat Sports Radio Network
Bob Lipman (play-by-play) • Chris Chandler (analyst)
Live Stats: UNHWildcats.com
Live Video: UNHWildcats.TV 

QUICK HITTERS

Sean McDonnell has posted a record of 4-5 against Delaware since becoming UNH's head coach in 1999. The Wildcats have been victorious in three of the last four meetings but are just 1-3 at Cowell Stadium against the Blue Hens.

Nico Steriti's 201 rushing yards at Old Dominion last week represented the first 200-yard rushing performance by a Wildcat since Stephan Lewis accrued 258 rushing yards in a win at UMass on Oct. 13, 2001.  

•The Wildcats eclipsed the 300-yard rushing mark and 300-yard passing mark in the same game for the first time in school history with 389 rushing yards and 336 passing yards at ODU.

•In two of UNH's last three wins against Delaware, a backup quarterback has been instrumental in the victory. In 2004, Ricky Santos made his debut in place of injured starter Mike Granieri in a 24-21 win at Delaware Stadium; in 2007, R.J. Toman replaced an injured Santos to help the 'Cats post a 35-30 win at Cowell Stadium.

•UNH is facing a Top-10 team for second straight week. In 2010, the Wildcats recovered from a 13-3 home loss to No. 4 William & Mary to knock off No. 9 Villanova, 31-24, a week later on the road. 

•The Wildcats have won eight straight home games and are 19-1 in their last 20 games at Cowell Stadium. Since the start of the 2007 season, the Wildcats have protected "The Dungeon" to the tune of a 26-3 mark on Mooradian Field. 

•The 125 combined points in last week's loss at ODU were the most ever in a CAA league game. The 1,529 yards of combined total offense and the 74 combined first downs were FCS single-game records.

•Senior middle linebacker Matt Evans is the FCS active leader in career tackles (373) and solo tackles (205). He is 61 tackles shy of UNH all-time leader Steve Doig (434, 1978-81).

117 WEEKS IN A ROW:  With a No. 20 ranking in The Sports Network Poll, UNH has now been ranked in the Top 25 for 117 consecutive weeks. The nation's second-longest streak, which dates back to Sept. 13, 2004, has been bettered only by Montana (197 weeks). Delaware, at a distant 34 weeks, has the second-longest ranked tenure in the CAA.

School Consecutive Weeks Ranked
Montana 197
UNH 117
Appalachian State 101
Delaware (2nd-longest in CAA)   34

LAST MEETING: Delaware-16, UNH-3, Dec. 10, 2010 - NEWARK, Del.Terrance Fox (Piscataway, N.J.) matched a career-high with 11 catches for 72 yards, and Brian McNally (Cornwall, N.Y.) became the all-time single-season sack leader in University of New Hampshire history, but the 10th-ranked Wildcats had their season end in the NCAA Division I Football Championship quarterfinals with a 16-3 setback at the hands of the fifth-ranked University of Delaware on Friday night at Delaware Stadium. Delaware, which upped its record to 11-2 by ending a three-game losing streak against New Hampshire, will host the winner of Saturday's Wofford/Georgia Southern quarterfinal game, in the national semifinals either Friday, Dec. 17, or Saturday, Dec. 18. UNH's season ends with a record of 8-5 after the Wildcats fell in the quarterfinal round of the playoffs for the sixth time in seven seasons, and for the third time to a CAA opponent (Massachusetts-2006, Villanova-2009). The Wildcats struck first, grabbing a 3-0 lead with 2:35 left in the opening quarter on a 23-yard field goal from Mike MacArthur (North Hampton, N.H.). UNH strung together a 14-play, 75-yard drive that chopped 6:14 off the clock. Quarterback R.J. Toman (Mission Viejo, Calif.) used his legs for the two biggest plays of the possession: a 17-yard scamper on third-and-10, taking the ball from the Wildcats' 49 to the Blue Hens' 34, and an 18-yard run off right tackle, with a key lead block from Chris Setian (East Longmeadow, Mass.), that set up first-and-goal at the 10. McNally officially set the school record for sacks in a single season when he hauled down UD quarterback Pat Devlin for an eight-yard loss on a third-and-11 play late in the first quarter. The All-CAA First Team defensive end added a second sack in the third quarter, giving him 13.5 for the season. Delaware tied the game, 3-3, when Mike Perry connected for a 25-yard field goal with 3:00 remaining in the first half, capping a 15-play, 85-yard drive. The Hens were pinned back to their own seven-yard line following a career-high 67-yard punt from Kyle Auffray (Cornwall, N.Y.), but Devlin went to work on the Wildcats' defense, completing eight of nine passes for 64 yards on the six-minute, 48-second drive.  The teams went to the halftime deadlocked at 3. The Blue Hens moved in front with 7:09 remaining in the third quarter when Devlin hit Nihja White on a deep left out route for a 24-yard touchdown. The extra point went wide right, keeping Delaware's lead at 9-3. Earlier in the drive, it was a Devlin-to-White 12-yard hook-up on third-and-five that extended the possession and pushed the ball into Wildcats' territory at the 42. Devlin threw his second touchdown pass of the night, and 20th of the season, with 13:04 remaining in the game, hitting Mark Schneauer on third-and-goal from UNH 9, giving Delaware a 16-3 advantage. That play capped a 10-play, 87-yard drive that consumed 4:02 off the clock. UNH drove to the Delaware 27 yard line, but Toman was intercepted on a 4th-and-9 play with just under six minutes remaining. The Blue Hens sealed the victory with a 12-play drive lasting 5:36.

TALE OF THE TAPE: 

Totals (CAA Rank)                 UNH                   DEL
Total Offense                      486.5 (2)           362.5 (8)
Rush Offense                       266.8 (1)          172.5 (7)
Pass Offense                        219.8 (3)           190.0 (7)
Scoring Offense                    37.2 (T-2)           37.2 (T-2)
Total Defense                        454.0 (9)          348.0 (8)  
Rush Defense                        132.5 (4)           110.8 (2)
Pass Defense                        321.5 (11)           237.3 (8)
Scoring Defense                       33.8 (9)          14.8 (1)
Possession Avg.                      29:12 (7)          29:30 (5) 
Sacks Made/Yards                    8/33 (T-4)         8/57 (T-4)
Penalties Against/Yards             25/212 (6)        18/165 (3)
Punts/Net Avg.                      19/31.6 (10)        14/25.4 (11)
Turnover Differential                  +5 (T-2)           +8 (1)
3rd Down Conversion%               50.8 (2)            49.1 (3)
4th Down Conversion%              0-for-7 (11)        1-for-1 (1)
Red Zone Offense%                    89.0 (4)            91.0 (2)

SCOUTING THE BLUE HENS: Eighth-ranked Delaware cracked the FCS Top 10 for the first time this season after notching an impressive 51-21 defeat of William & Mary last Saturday.  Spurred by a trio of huge plays, including a blocked field goal returned by Travis Hawkins for a 90-yard touchdown (an NCAA record) and two defensive touchdowns, the Blue Hens moved to 4-0 on the season (1-0 CAA).  The defense scored on a 45-yard fumble recovery TD, and defensive tackle Zack Kerr returned an interception 47 yards for a pick-six. Kerr's touchdown was the first by a Blue Hen defensive lineman in over 25 years. Delaware has won seven straight dating back to last year, the third longest active streak in the FCS. Delaware's 4-0 start is its best since the 2010 campaign, when the Blue Hens started the season with seven straight wins.  UD went on to share the CAA Title with William & Mary that season and advanced all the way to the NCAA championship game, buoyed by a 16-3 national quarterfinal victory against UNH.    

DELAWARE PLAYERS TO WATCH: Junior running back Andrew Pierce has been the pride and joy of the Blue Hens' offense since the day he arrived as a walk-on, but the two-time All-CAA selection is making a bid for that honor again this year. Pierce has carried the ball 87 times for 394 yards and two touchdowns. He has started every game he has played at Delaware and is 66 yards away from becoming only the fourth player in UD history to reach 3,000 yards rushing.  As a junior, Pierce is already among the top 10 in school history in nearly every significant rushing category. Sophomore quarterback Trent Hurley has completed 62 of 99 pass attempts this season for 751 yards and five touchdowns.  The Bowling Green transfer started off the season with a 310-yard outburst, completing 24 of 35 pass attempts, including three touchdowns.  Hurley was intercepted three times in his debut as a Blue Hen, but has since become more protective of the ball, turning it over zero times.  Hurley has targeted wide receivers Michael Johnson and pre-season All-CAA selection Nihja White more than any.  Johnson has been the stud with 16 catches for 217 yards and two touchdowns, while White missed the second and third games of the season, but has still caught 11 passes for 114 yards. Senior linebacker Paul Worrilow is far and above the anchor of Delaware's defense.  Worrilow could prove challenging for the Wildcats' potent running game.  With 48 total tackles, the pre-season All-CAA selection is living up to his reputation of a run-stopping force in the middle of this Blue Hen defense. Senior defensive back Tim Breaker is tied for first in the FCS with three interceptions on the season.

 

LAST TIME OUT:  ODU - 64, UNH -61 -SEPT. 22

 NORFOLK, Va. – Andy Vailas passed for 336 yards and five touchdowns Saturday afternoon at S.B. Ballard Stadium, but Old Dominion quarterback Taylor Heinicke set an NCAA Division I record by amassing 730 passing yards as the fifth-ranked Monarchs outlasted the No. 18/19 University of New Hampshire football team, 64-61, in the highest-scoring game in CAA history. The Wildcats, who led by as many as 23 points (47-24) in the second half, dropped to 2-2 on the season and 0-1 in the league despite setting a school record with 35 first downs. ODU upped its overall record to 4-0 by winning its conference opener, and the Monarchs established an FCS record by racking up 824 yards of total offense. Jarod Brown snapped a 61-61 tie by kicking a 25-yard field goal with 41 seconds remaining to cap a record-shattering game that featured an astounding 1,549 yards of total offense –another NCAA FCS record. Heinicke completed 55 of 79 passes for five touchdowns without an interception. The sophomore added 11 rushes for 61 yards and a TD to set an FCS record with 791 yards of total offense. ODU's top receivers were Nick Mayers, who snared 12 passes for 271 yards and three touchdowns, and Antonio Vaughan, who posted 12 catches for 143 yards and a score. Vailas went 23-for-38 and was not picked off until his final pass of the game, a desperation second-and-11 pass from the ODU 49 intended for Joey Orlando with six seconds left. Vailas added 14 carries for 80 yards and a rushing TD to finish with 416 yards of total offense. Nico Steriti led all ball-carriers with 21 rushes for a career-high 201 yards and two TDs, and R.J. Harris collected eight receptions for a career-high 191 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Harris was on the receiving end of a 45-yard TD pass from Vailas with 3:22 left in the fourth to tie the game, 61-61. The Wildcats made an instant impact on the opening kickoff when Lamar Edmonds drilled ODU kick-returner Colby Goodwyn, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Akil Anderson at the Monarchs' 25. One play later, Vailas found Orlando (seven catches-81 yards, two TDs) on a post-pattern scoring toss and a 7-0 lead just 16 seconds into the game. Two possessions later, Old Dominion marched down the field on a 13-play, 72-yard drive that culminated with Brown's 22-yard field goal to trim UNH's lead to 7-3 with 10:04 left in the first. The Wildcats responded quickly - and emphatically - when Steriti (career-high 226 all-purpose yards) accounted for all 76 yards of a four-play drive capped by his one-yard touchdown run with 9:06 remaining in the first for a 13-3 lead. The two-point attempt failed. The sophomore running back carried once for 12 yards before breaking free on his next attempt for a 63-yard gain to the 1-yard line. On the next play, he carried in for his first of two TDs in the game. New Hampshire added one more first-quarter score with 48 seconds remaining courtesy of a 38-yard field goal off the foot of Mike MacArthur to lift the advantage to 16-3. A two-play, 60-yard drive culminating in a 57-yard TD strike from Heinicke to Mayers cut UNH's lead to 16-10 with 12:42 remaining in the second quarter. The Wildcats parlayed the Monarchs' second turnover of the game into a touchdown with 10:15 left in the second. Mayers fumbled a punt return that was recovered by Jimmy Vailas at the Monarchs' 25. Chris Setian (10 rushes-70 yards; three catches-28 yards) rumbled for 12 yards on the first play of the subsequent drive before taking a screen pass from Andy Vailas on the next play 13 yards into the end zone, which staked the 'Cats to a 23-10 lead. The lead ballooned to 30-10 with 6:56 left in the half when Steriti burst through a hole in the middle of the line of scrimmage and raced 61 yards for his second score of the game.  Heinicke drew the home team within 30-17 with 4:02 left in the second quarter when, on fourth-and-1 from the UNH 15, he bought time by scrambling in the pocket before discovering Vaughan at the left pylon for the TD pass. New Hampshire recaptured the momentum when Vailas completed a 73-yard touchdown pass to Harris on a third-and-23 play to build the lead to 37-17 with 2:50 left in the half. It was the longest passing play for the Wildcats since a 77-yard hookup between R.J. Toman, who was in attendance, and Chris Jeannot on Nov. 15, 2008, against Massachusetts. Old Dominion struck right back 25 seconds later. After Vaughan (317 all-purpose yards) returned the ensuing kickoff 83 yards to the UNH 9, Heinicke called his own number, sprinted left and dove to the pylon for a nine-yard score to trim the score to 37-24. MacArthur sent the 'Cats to the halftime break with a 40-24 lead by kicking a 32-yard field goal as time expired. The Wildcats scored on their first possession of the second half to seize a 47-24 lead, their biggest advantage of the game. Orlando notched his second TD catch of the game when he took a screen pass from Vailas in the left flat and maneuvered behind a host of blockers to the end zone. ODU fought back by orchestrating an 11-play, 90-yard drive highlighted by a 32-yard catch-and-run TD reception by Jakwail Bailey (nine catches-81 yards, TD), who bounced off a pair of hard hits before registering his first career score with 7:10 left in the third to slice the UNH edge to 47-31. The Monarchs capitalized on the Wildcats' first turnover of the game when Craig Wilkins recovered a fumble on the UNH 2. That set the stage for an eight-play, 98-yard drive capped by a seven-yard touchdown rush from Goodwyn that brought the Monarchs within 47-38 with 1:38 to go in the third. UNH had another big-play answer with 1:05 left in the third when Vailas ran to the outside, made good use of a downfield block from Harold Spears and outran the ODU defense 67 yards down the left sideline for a touchdown and a 54-38 lead. Heinicke's fourth TD pass of the afternoon, a 12-yard strike to Mayers, followed by a Heinicke-to-Mayers two-point conversation, decreased UNH's lead to 54-46 with 13:04 left. Mayers hauled in his third touchdown reception of the game, a nine-yard catch with 10:09 remaining, and Heinicke found Blair Roberts for a two-point conversion to knot the score, 54-54. The Monarchs captured their first lead, 61-54, on a two-yard run by Angus Harper (three rushes-four yards) that completed a 10-play, 89-yard drive with 4:39 remaining. Chris Houston led the Wildcats with 14 tackles, while Dontra Peters (13 tackles), Matt Evans (12 tackles) and Alan Buzbee (10 tackles) all finished with double-digit stops. The 61 points scored by UNH represented the most ever in a defeat and the highest totaled by the 'Cats since a 63-21 win at Rhode Island on Nov. 11, 2006. ODU's 64 points were the most allowed by New Hampshire since a 64-42 loss to Massachusetts on Nov. 19, 1988.

COACH TO CURE MD: For the fifth year in a row, college football coaches nationwide will join together in support of the Coach to Cure MD program, which will be held during Saturday's UNH/Delaware game. The rapidly growing annual effort has raised more than a million collars to battle Duchenne muscular dystrophy. UNH coaches will wear a  Coach to Cure MD logo patch on the sidelines and Wildcat fans are asked to donate to research projects supported by Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy (PPMD), the largest nonprofit organization in the U.S. focused entirely on Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Fans can donate to Duchenne muscular dystrophy research by either going online to www.CoachtoCureMD.org or by texting the word CURE to 90999. A $5 donation will automatically be added to your next phone bill.

COACH MAC VS BLUE HENS: Sean McDonnell has posted a record of 4-5 against Delaware since becoming UNH's head coach in 1999. The Wildcats have been victorious in three of the last four meetings but are just 1-3 at Cowell Stadium against the Blue Hens.  

WELCOME TO THE DUNGEON: Since the start of the 2007 season, the Wildcats are 26-3 at Cowell Stadium. The 'Cats have posted a 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 eight games.

HALL OF FAME NUMBERS: When Nico Steriti broke the 200-yard barrier with his 21-carry, 201-yard, two-TD performance at No. 5 Old Dominion, it marked the first 200-yard rushing output by a Wildcat since UNH Hall of Famer Stephan Lewis rumbled for 258 yards on 25 carries in a 35-24 win at UMass on Oct. 13, 2001.

TOP 10 TESTS: For the second time in three seasons, UNH is faced with the daunting task of battling Top-10 teams in back-to back weeks. In 2010, the Wildcats dropped a 13-3 home game to No. 4 William & Mary on Nov. 6 before bouncing back with a 31-24 upset win at No. 9 Villanova a week later. Old Dominion was ranked fifth last week, and Delaware enters Saturday's game with a No. 8 ranking.

TOP RUSHING ATTACK IN CAA: UNH enters this weekend's game ranked first in the CAA and seventh in the FCS in rushing, averaging 266.8 yards/game. Sophomore Nico Steriti leads the league with 406 yards on 51 carries, averaging 101.5 yards/game and 8.0 yards/carry. Chris Setian, who has compiled 240 yards on 38 rushes, averages 60 yards/game and 6.3 yards/rush. Jimmy Owens has carried 27 times for 157 yards with an average of 39.2 yards/game and 5.8 yards/rush.

RECORD BALANCE: By accumulating 389 rushing yards and 336 passing yards at Old Dominion on Sept. 22, UNH eclipsed the 300-yard mark in both departments in one game for the first time in school history. As a result, the Wildcats' offensive line that helped the 'Cats rack up 725 yards of total offense was recognized as the co-Offensive Line of the Week by Beyond Sports Network. Not surprisingly, UNH shared the honor with the Old Dominion offensive line. 

BACKING OVER THE BLUE HENS: With backup QB Andy Vailas slated to start in place of injured starter Sean Goldrich for the third consecutive game, it is worth noting that in two of UNH's last three wins against Delaware, backup QBs have been at the helm. On Sept. 2, 2004, redshirt freshman Ricky Santos relieved injured senior Mike Granieri and completed 10 of 11 passes for 146 yards in a 24-21 upset win at No. 1 and defending national champion Delaware. On Oct. 6, 2007, Santos was the senior knocked out of the game with an injury that led to the debut of redshirt freshman R.J. Toman. Toman (5 of 9, 98 yards, 2 TDs) threw a pair of touchdowns to Keith LeVan to guide the Wildcats to a 35-30 defeat of the 11th-ranked and previously undefeated Blue Hens. On Dec. 3, 2010, Delaware posted a 16-3 victory over UNH in the NCAA quarterfinals with Toman, the incumbent, back at the helm. One week earlier, junior backup signal caller Kevin Decker, playing in place of the injured Toman, orchestrated a 45-20 second-round playoff victory at Bethune-Cookman. 

A LA CARTY: Speaking of backups, UNH offensive coordinator Ryan Carty was Delaware's backup QB on Sept. 2, 2004, when Santos stole the headlines. Yet it was almost Carty who became the hero. With Blue Hen quarterback Sonny Riccio sidelined by leg cramps, Carty entered the game and promptly threw a 61-yard pass to David Boler, setting the stage for Sean Bleiler's seven-yard TD rush that staked Delaware to a 21-17 lead with 13:56 left in the fourth quarter. Alas, Santos hit David Ball for a 44-yard TD with 11:13 remaining to give the Wildcats the final score of the game. It was the first (of quite a few) Santos-to-Ball TD hookups in UNH history. Carty, who finished that fateful game 3 of 5 for 71 yards,  returned to the office for half-days this week in preparation for the matchup against his alma mater, has not coached in a game since the Aug. 30 season opener at Holy Cross due to a medical issue.

MOST COMBINED POINTS: The 125 combined points in UNH's 64-61 loss at Old Dominion on Sept. 22 set a CAA conference game record. The only other game involving a league team to reach 125 combined points occurred in 1949 when Connecticut blanked Newport Naval Training Station, 125-0. 

COMBINED TOTAL OFFENSE: Old Dominion (825) and UNH (724) teamed for 1,529 yards, crushing the FCS mark of 1,423 held by Murray State (816) and Missouri State (607) since 2010. But Murray State and Missouri State set their record in a mere 134 plays (10.6 yards per snap), while ODU and New Hampshire had 195 (7.8 yards per play). The all-divisions record is 1,640 yards set by San Jose State (849) and Nevada (791) in 2001. 

COMBINED FIRST DOWNS: ODU (39) and UNH (35) had 74 first downs, breaking the FCS record of 72 set by Bethune-Cookman (40) and Howard (32) in 1987. Houston (40) and Louisiana Tech (48) set the Division I record of 78 on Sept. 9, 2012. The 35 first downs tied a UNH record previously set at Towson on Nov. 12, 2011.

EVANS LEADS FCS IN CAREER TACKLES: Senior middle linebacker Matt Evans is the FCS active leader in career tackles (373) and solo tackles (205). Here is a breakdown of Evans vs his nearest pursuers:

Player School Career Total Tackles

1. Matt Evans UNH 373
2. Jordan Ripley Butler 349
3. Aaron Archie Indiana State 346

 

Player School Career Solo Tackles
1. Matt Evans UNH 205
2. Darnell Taylor Sam Houston St. 175
3. Keith Pough Howard 172 

MILESTONE WATCH: 

Matt Evans, who moved into No. 2 on UNH's all-time tackles list Sept. 15, needs 61 tackles to match all-time leader Steve Doig.  Here is a look at his road to the all-time career-tackles mark.

Career Tackles
1. Steve Doig (1978-81) 434
2. Matt Evans (2009-present) 373 

Joey Orlando needs 107 receiving yards to reach UNH's top 10, and he is nine receptions short of the top 10 in that category:

Career Receiving Yards
10. Michael Taylor (1999-2002) 1,893
Joey Orlando (2009-present) 1,786 

Career Receptions
10. Mike Gallagher (1989-92) 150
Joey Orlando (2009-present) 141

 

Dontra Peters needs 108 all-purpose yards to reach 3,000 for his career.

Sean McDonnell is two wins away from 100 for his career.

 

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