No. 12/12 New Hampshire (6-2, 4-1 CAA) at Rhode Island (0-7, 0-4 CAA)
Oct. 27, 2012 • 12:00 p.m. • Meade Stadium • Kingston, R.I.
Radio: Wildcat Sports Radio Network
Bob Lipman (play-by-play) • Chris Chandler (analyst)
•The Wildcats are riding their ninth four-game winning streak in the last 10 seasons. A win Saturday at URI would give UNH its first five-game winning streak since it started the 2009 season 5-0.
•Coach Sean McDonnell returns to Meade Stadium, the location of his first game as head coach of the Wildcats on Sept. 4, 1999. The Wildcats recorded a 37-14 victory that afternoon and are 4-3 all-time in Kingston during the Coach Mac era.
•The Wildcats and the Rams engage in football battle for the 86th time, the second-longest rivalry in school history. UNH and Maine played for the 100th time last week.
•Senior middle linebacker Matt Evans, the FCS active leader with 415 career tackles, is 20 tackles away from overtaking Steve Doig (1978-81) as the all-time leader in UNH history. Evans leads the CAA in tackles (81).
•UNH leading rusher Nico Steriti (682 yards) has outgained URI's entire team (477 yards) this season, and R.J. Harris's eight receiving TDs are two more than the Rams have as a collective unit.
•Redshirt freshman QB Sean Goldrich returned to the starting lineup last week for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury early in the Minnesota game on Sept. 8. Goldrich threw for career highs of 283 yards and four touchdowns to garner CAA Rookie of the Week honors for the second time in three career starts. He was also was feted as the College Sports Journal National Freshman of the Week.
•R.J. Harris paces the CAA in receiving yards/game (94.1), is No. 2 in receptions/game (6.6) and is tied for the league high with eight TD catches. His 48 points are tied for fourth in the league among non-kickers, and he is third with 117.0 all-purpose yards/game.
•R.J. Harris and URI's Brandon Johnson-Farrell are former high school teammates at Arundel High School in Odenton, Md. Harris set school records for career catches and career TD receptions in 2009, two seasons afer Johnson-Farrell establshed both marks.
UNH-URI ALL-TIME SERIES (WILDCATS LEAD 53-27-5): The Wildcats and the Rams engage in football battle for the 86th time, the second-longest rivalry in school history (Maine-100 meetings). UNH and Rhode Island met each year from 1905-1917, resumed the annual series from 1923-28, played just once ('42) over the next 17 years and then have squared off each season since 1946 with one exception (2002). New Hampshire has won seven of the last eight meetings and is 9-3 vs the Rams in the Sean McDonnell era, but three of the last four games have been decided by single digits. Coach Mac's first-ever victory came in his coaching debut at Meade Stadium, 37-14, on Sept. 4, 1999. In that game, 5-foot-3 Imion Powell returned a punt 88 yards for a TD, and RB Dan Curran carried the ball 24 times for 167 yards and three scores.
SCOUTING THE RAMS: Rhode Island has faced a difficult start to the season, dropping its first seven games, a losing streak that dates back to November 12, 2011, and spans nine games over two seasons. UNH is 53-27-5 all-time against the Rams, including a come-from-behind victory on Homecoming last year in Durham. Rhode Island won the last time these teams met in Kingston, 28-25, on a 39-yard fumble return for touchdown by James Timmins in the fourth quarter on September 18, 2010.
URI scored only 45 points through its first six games until putting up 24 at Delaware last week. Junior quarterback Bob Bentsen completed 19 of 27 passes for 167 yards and two touchdowns. Rhode Island scored 17 points in the second half of the 47-24 loss, which is more than all of its second-half points combined up until last week.
The Rams are led by fourth-year head coach Joe Trainer, who holds a 9-31 record at the school. Prior to receiving the job at Rhode Island in 2009, Trainer was the head coach at Millersville, where he led the Marauders to a 13-20 record over three seasons, bringing his record as a head coach to 22-51. Trainer places a strong emphasis on working hard on and off the field where he boasts 32 players that have achieved Academic All-CAA honors since his arrival in 2009.
The 'Cats hope to spoil a second homecoming game in a row, following their victory over Maine in Orono last weekend.
RHODE ISLAND PLAYERS TO WATCH: Junior quarterback Bob Bentsen has been the Rams' offensive standout this season, leading the team in passing yards (1,036) and rushing yards (137). Bentsen has played in every single game for URI, completing 113 of 193 pass attempts, including five touchdowns through the air. Bentsen's 148.0 passing yards/game is good for 10th in the CAA. Bentsen has also rushed the ball 51 times for 137 yards and one touchdown. Between rushing and passing, Bentsen accounts for 167.6 yards of offense/game for the Rams, putting him ninth in the CAA in that category.
Bentsen's favorite target this season has been senior wide receiver Brandon Johnson-Farrell. Johnson-Farrell has hauled in a team-leading 38 receptions for 394 yards and three touchdowns. The 5-foot-10, 197-pound receiver's 5.4 receptions/game is tied for the fourth highest total in the CAA this season. Johnson-Farrell has also added versatility to the Rams' attack, returning kicks at a rate of 21.5 yards/return, good for fifth in the CAA.
Rhody's run defense is anchored by sophomore linebacker Andrew Bose. Bose is the team leader in solo tackles (38) and total tackles (54). His 7.7 stops/game place him at sixth in the CAA. Bose had his best game of the year against James Madison in week three, recording 11 solo and 13 total tackles.
Senior defensive back Clement Ani is only one tackle behind Bose for the team lead with 53. Ani has been everywhere on defense for the Rams, tallying 28 solo tackles, one forced fumble, one interception and three pass breakups. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound stopper's 7.6 tackles/game is good for eighth in the CAA.
LAST TIME OUT: UNH-28, MAINE-21 - OCT. 20
ORONO, Maine- Sean Goldrich threw for 283 yards and four touchdowns to lead the No. 12/14 UNH football team to Saturday afternoon's come-from-behind 28-21 victory over Maine at Alfond Stadium in the 100th all-time meeting between the CAA rivals.
UNH (6-2, 4-1 CAA) registered its fourth straight victory to retain possession of the Brice-Cowell Musket, which goes to the winner of the annual gridiron battle.
Goldrich, who was making his first start since suffering an injured shoulder at Minnesota on Sept. 8, went 18 of 39 and rushed eight times for 13 yards with a team-long 12-yard rush.
Harold Spears notched three catches, including two for touchdowns, for a career-high 107 yards, and R.J. Harris nabbed a team-high seven catches for 88 yards and a TD.
Chris Setian carried a team-leading 17 times for 76 yards, including six straight carries for 24 yards as the Wildcats ran out the clock to preserve their ninth win in the last 10 meetings with Maine (2-5, 1-3).
Matt Evans amassed a team-high 11 tackles, and Jared Smith chipped in with nine stops, including 1.5 tackles for loss and three pass breakups.
The Black Bears scored the only points of the opening quarter on Justin Perillo's 15-yard touchdown catch. Perillo (seven catches-68 yards, two TDs) hauled in Marcus Wasilewski's pass with 5:20 left for a 7-0 lead.
Perillo tallied his second TD of the contest with 10:57 left in the second quarter when he took a screen pass from Wasilewski (23-for-44, two INTs, 254 yards, three TDs) in the left flat, broke a tackle and registered a 16-yard score for a 14-0 Black Bears' lead.
The Wildcats got on the scoreboard with 9:09 remaining in the first half when an open Spears caught Goldrich's pass along the left hash marks and outran the Black Bears defense 79 yards for UNH's longest play of the season and a 14-6 deficit following the failed PAT.
New Hampshire compiled a 12-play, 81-yard drive on its game-tying drive. Harris, who had a potential 33-yard TD reception negated by a holding penalty, found his way to the end zone two plays later on a 22-yard pass from Goldrich. The Wildcats successfully added the two-point conversion on a Goldrich-to-Setian pass to square the score, 14-14, with 57 seconds left in the second.
The Wildcats would strike for the go-ahead touchdown just 38 seconds later when Buzbee picked off Wasilewski's first-down pass and rumbled 46 yards to the Maine 1. After an incompletion and a fumble, the 'Cats regrouped with Goldrich hitting Setian (three catches-21 yards, TD) for a five-yard TD and a 21-14 lead at halftime.
UNH's second interception of the game set up the only touchdown of the third quarter. Thames collected a tipped ball and dashed 17 yards to the Black Bear 18. Wasilewski's pass, intended for Arthur Williams, was broken up by Tim Pike (two tackles), leading to Thames' second INT of the season and a red-zone opportunity that New Hampshire would cash in on Goldrich's fourth TD pass of the day –and second to Spears- a six-yard hookup with 2:44 left in the third for a 28-14 lead.
Maine snapped the 28-point UNH run with 14:22 left in the fourth quarter when Williams (three catches-46 yards, TD) was on the receiving end of a 23-yard slant TD pass from Wasliewski that trimmed the Bears' deficit to 28-21.
New Hampshire's bid to up its seven-point lead went by the boards when a 39-yard field-goal attempt by Mike MacArthur was blocked by Kendall James with 3:21 remaining.
BER-INJURED: Coach McDonnell announced Oct. 22 on the UNH Coach's Show that starting free safety Chris Beranger will miss the remainder of the season due to complications from a concussion. The junior, who racked up 17 tackles in the first two weeks and last saw action at Old Dominion in week four, started all 12 games last season when he ranked second on the team and third in the CAA with 142 tackles, the fourth-highest single-season total in UNH history.
GOING STREAKING: The Wildcats' victory at Maine was their fourth in a row, which marked the ninth time in the last 10 seasons the Wildcats have rattled off at least four straight victories. A win in Kingston on Saturday would give UNH its first five-game winning streak since Sept. 5-Oct 10, 2009, when the 'Cats opened the season 5-0. Under Coach McDonnell, UNH has managed a total of two five-game winning streaks, one six-game winning streak and a seven-game winning streak. Here is a breakdown:
•Seven-game win streak:
Oct. 15-Nov. 26, 2005 snapped vs Northern Iowa, Dec. 3, 2005
•Six-game win streak:
Oct. 23-Nov. 27, 2004 snapped at Montana, Dec. 4, 2004
•Five-game win streaks:
Sept. 9-Oct. 7, 2006 snapped vs James Madison, Oct. 21, 2006
Sept. 5-Oct. 17, 2009 snapped at Massachusetts, Oct. 17, 2009
WHERE IT ALL BEGAN: The first of coach Sean McDonnell's 102 career victories occurred at Meade Stadium on Sept. 4, 1999, with the Wildcats prevailing, 37-14. Five-foot-3 Imion Powell returned a punt 88 yards for a TD and RB Dan Curran rushed 24 times for 167 yards and three TDs to lead New Hampshire to the win in Coach Mac's debut. The Wildcats are 4-3 in Kingston during the Coach Mac era.
STRIKING GOLDRICH AGAIN: Redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Goldrich was named the CAA Rookie of the Week and the College Sports Journal National Freshman of the Week on Oct. 22. It is the second time Goldrich has garnered the honor in three career starts. Goldrich completed 18 of 39 passes for a career-high 283 yards and four touchdowns in the Wildcats' 28-21 victory at Maine. For the season, Goldrich is 43 of 76 (56.6 percent) for 521 yards with six TDs and two interceptions.
AIRED OUT: Rhode Island's passing offense has also seen its struggles, with an average of 160.0 yards/game, ranked 10th of the 11 league teams. Rhody's six receiving TDs are two fewer than R.J. Harris, who is tied with ODU's Nick Mayers for the CAA lead, and only one more than Joey Orlando. The Wildcats' 22 receiving TDs are No. 2 in the league (ODU-24).
SOS EXPRESS: The SOS Express of Nico Steriti, Jimmy Owens and Chris Setian has combined for 1,472 rushing yards, 210 receiving yards and 16 TDs this season. The trio had its stretch of games with at least one rushing TD snapped at seven games last week at Maine; however, Setian's receiving TD meant that in each of the first eight games, at least one Express member has reached the end zone.
GROUNDED OFFENSE: URI's rushing game is ranked last in the CAA with an average of 68.1 yards/game and a grand total of 477 yards. By contrast, UNH's Nico Steriti has rushed for 682 yards, Chris Setian has racked up 403 yards and Jimmy Owens has churned up 387 yards. The Rams have totaled two rushing TDs, while the Wildcats have 19 ground scores.
RUSHING SENSATION: The 2011 Wildcats failed to eclipse the 250-yard rushing mark in any game, a mark reached five times in the first eight games this season. Already in 2012, UNH has rushed for 279 yards in an Aug. 30 win at Holy Cross, 331 yards vs CCSU on Sept. 15, a whopping 389 yards at Old Dominion on Sept. 22 and 332 yards in the win at Georgia State. The 389 yards at ODU were the most accumulated by a UNH squad since a 417-yard outburst vs. Stony Brook on Sept. 16, 2006.
HARRIS POLL RESULTS: The results of the R.J. Harris poll have been incredibly positive this election season. The sophomore WR paces the CAA in receiving yards/game (94.1), is No. 2 in receptions/game (6.6) and is tied for the league high with eight TD catches (eight). His 48 points are tied for fourth in the league among non-kickers, and he is third with 117.0 all-purpose yards/game.
ARUNDEL WIDE REUNION: In 2007, when URI senior Brandon Johnson-Farrell was a senior WR at Arundel High School in Odenton, Md., he set several records as the team went 13-1 and advanced to the state finals. Brandon set single-season records for catches (103), yards (1,394) and touchdowns (25) and left high school with state public school records for career catches (174) and career TDs (40).
In 2009 at Arundel, UNH's R.J. Harris eclipsed Johnson-Farrell's career marks in receptions (181), yards receiving (2,618) and touchdowns (48). Harris, then a high school senior, also set the Maryland single-game reception record by registering 20 catches for 239 yards and three TDs in the opening game of the state playoffs.
In between Johnson-Farrell's senior campaign and Harris' senior season in 2008, now-Syracuse WR Alec Lemon was Arundel's go-to target. Lemon matched Johnson-Farrell's receptions mark (103) and owned the school's record in receiving yards (1,616) for one season before Harris took over the all-time mark. Lemon, a senior for the Orange, is currently second in the BIG EAST in receptions/game (5.3) and is fourth in receiving yards/game (71.3).
UN-VAILED: UNH sophomore QB Andy Vailas did not see action at Maine on Oct. 20, marking the first game he's missed in 2012. Older brother, DE Jimmy Vailas, also missed his first game of the season at Maine.
The good news is that Andy is scheduled to return for Saturday's game at URI, though Coach Mac stopped short of announcing which of his QBs -Vailas or Sean Goldrich- will get the start vs. the Rams.
The bad news is that Jimmy will miss the remainder of the season due to injury. The elder Vailas was tied for second in the CAA with two fumble recoveries.
RHODE WARRIORS: Rhode Island has proven to be a thorn in the Wildcats' side in recent years. The last time an opponent produced two 100-yard rushers in the same game was Oct. 27, 2007, when URI's Jimmy Hughes (168) and Joe Casey (105) ran roughshod over New Hampshire's D in a 49-36 Wildcat victory. The Rams were also involved in the last blocked punt returned for a TD against the 'Cats; on Sept. 21, 2003, Calvin Poole turned the trick for a 29-yard score in Rhody's 55-40 win at Meade Stadium. James Timmins' 39-yard fumble return for a TD that led to URI's 28-25 upset of UNH two years ago had been the last fumble return score against the Wildcats until Central Connecticut State's David Rose brought back a 38-yard fumble return for a TD on Sept. 15.
ROCKING OUT OCTOBER: The Wildcats have dubbed this month Rocktober, with three road games out of four weeks. A win Saturday would give UNH a perfect 4-0 month of October for only the second time in the last 17 seasons. The only perfect October in the Coach Mac era came in 2007, when the 'Cats posted wins over Delaware (35-30), Iona (49-21), at Hofstra (40-3) and against Rhode Island (49-36).
I'LL BE YOUR DOIG: Senior linebacker Matt Evans is now within 20 tackles of toppling Steve Doig's 31-year record as UNH's all-time leader in tackles. Evans, the FCS active career leader with 415 tackles, has picked up steam in recent weeks. After notching one double-digit-tackle game in the first six weeks of the season (12 at ODU on Sept. 22), the reigning Buck Buchanan Award winner has followed up a 16-tackle effort in the Homecoming win over Richmond with last week's 11 tackles at Maine. Evans has either led or tied for the team lead in tackles six times in eight games this season. He is the CAA's leader in tackles (81), tackles/game (10.1), solo stops (56/No. 2 in FCS) and solo stops/game (7.0/No. 2 in FCS).