No. 15/15 New Hampshire (10-4, 6-2 CAA) at No. 1/1 North Dakota State University (13-0, 8-0 Missouri Valley)
Dec. 20, 2013 • 8 p.m. Eastern • Fargodome • Fargo, N.D.
Radio: Wildcat Sports Radio Network
Bob Lipman (play-by-play) • Chris Chandler (analyst)
Television: ESPN2 | Online Broadcast: ESPN3 (watch here)
Anish Shroff (play-by-play) • Kelly Stouffer (analyst) • Cara Capuano (reporter)
The Dec. 20 NCAA semifinal game will be the first meeting between the University of New Hampshire and North Dakota State University football programs.
UNH enters Friday's game on a six-game winning streak and the Wildcats have won nine of 10. The 'Cats also had a six-game win streak last season. The last time they won seven straight was in 2005 (school-record 11 wins in '05).
North Dakota State, the top seed and two-time defending national champion, has won 22 consecutive games. The Bison were last defeated Oct. 13, 2012 by Indiana State (17-14 at Fargodome).
UNH has a 4-4 road record this season but has won three straight and four of the last five away from home. NDSU is 7-0 at Fargodome.
UNH is making a national-best 10th consecutive appearance in the FCS Championship and its first ever appearance in the semifinals.
The Wildcats have a 9-9 record during this 10-year streak with a 6-1 record in first round games, 2-2 mark in the second round (all on the road) and 1-6 in the quarterfinals (1-5 on the road).
This is New Hampshire's 12th overall appearance in the FCS tournament. The Wildcats have a 9-11 tourney record that includes 7-8 on the road. They played 11 consecutive road playoff games spanning 2006-12 (4-7 record).
The Wildcats won multiple playoff games for the first time in a single season in 2013 by defeating Lafayette (45-7), Maine (41-27) and Southeastern Louisiana (20-17).
UNH has a 5-2 record vs. nationally-ranked teams and has won each of the last five matchups.
Prior to this season, UNH had never played more than 13 games in a season, which it did three consecutive years on two occasions – 2004, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009 and 2010.
This will mark the 13th consecutive week with a game for the Wildcats since their open week Sept. 21.
UNH has a 1,000-yard rusher (Nico Steriti-1,021) and 1,000-yard receiver (Justin Mello-1,020) in the same season for the second time in school history. It first happened in 1993.
Mello and R.J. Harris will become the first UNH teammates with 1,000 receiving yards in the same season with 29 receiving yards for Harris (971).
UNH vs. North Dakota State All-Time Series: The University of New Hampshire and North Dakota State University football programs will battle for the first time Friday, Dec. 20 (8 p.m. Eastern) in an NCAA semifinal game at the Fargodome.
Scouting the Bison: North Dakota State University is the FCS tournament top seed and two-time defending champion. The Bison are unbeaten in the 2013 season (13-0) and have won 22 consecutive games dating back to a 17-14 home loss to Indiana State on Oct. 13, 2012.
NDSU began 2013 postseason play with a 38-7 win against Furman in the second round (Dec. 7) and advanced out of the quarterfinals with a 48-14 victory vs. 11th-ranked Coastal Carolina on Dec. 14. The Bison recorded season highs in both rushing yards (424) and total offense (623 yards) last week.
NDSU ranks in the top 10 in the nation in 20 of 42 statistics and are No. 1 in six stats – scoring defense (11.4 points/game), time of possession (34:16), third down conversion offense (.560), third down conversion defense (.262), kickoff returns (26.54 yards/return) and blocked punts allowed (0).
The Bison lead the Missouri Valley conference in 22 of 42 stats; the breakdown is 11 offense, six defense and six special teams.
North Dakota State has outscored the opposition 494-148 and that includes 131-20 in the first quarter and 89-6 in the fourth.
NDSU's average attendance in eight games at Fargodome this season is 18,613.
Players to Watch: UNH faces another talented quarterback this week in NDSU signal caller Brock Jensen, who is ranked No. 3 in the nation in passer rating (169.66) as well as No. 8 in completion percentage (.669) and No. 9 in passing touchdowns (30). Jensen has completed 194 of 290 pass attempts for 2,512 yards. He also has 92 carries for 429 yards.
Zach Vraa is the top target with 59 catches for 1,064 yards and 13 TDs; with those numbers, Vraa is averaging 81.8 yards/game and 18.0 yards/catch. Ryan Smith ranks second on the team in receptions (50) and receiving yards (661) with five TDs. Kevin Vaadeland has seven touchdowns on 17 receptions (for 200 yards).
Sam Ojuri has already eclipsed 1,000 rushing yards this season 9186 carries, 1,239 yards) and John Crockett (168-996) is on the verge of also surpassing that milestone.
Christian Dudzik is No. 10 in the nation in punt returns (11.9 yards/return) and is the leader with two punt returns for touchdowns. He also leads the team in interceptions with five.
Grant Olson, the team's leading tackler (79), has missed the last four games. Colten Heagle (76) and Carlton Littlejohn (72) rank 2-3 in tackles. Kyle Emmanuel has a team-high 6.5 sacks as part of 9.0 tackles for a loss.
New Hampshire vs. The Missouri Valley: The Wildcats have never faced North Dakota State but has played two current members of the Missouri Valley conference and has a 1-3 record – all in NCAA tourney matchups. UNH defeated Southern Illinois, 29-20, in a 2008 first round game on the road. The 'Cats are 0-3 vs. Northern Iowa with a home loss in the 2005 quarterfinals as well as road setbacks in the 2007 first round and 2008 quarterfinals.
NATION-LEADING 10 STRAIGHT FCS POSTSEASONS: UNH has qualified for the NCAA FCS Championship tournament for 10 consecutive years, the longest streak in the nation. The Wildcats have a 3-10 record in December with all 12 games coming in postseason play; one win came last weekend at Maine and the other was in 2010 at Bethune Cookman. Here is a breakdown of UNH's all-time postseason record (home games in BOLD), beginning with its lone bowl appearance in 1947 at the Glass Bowl:
Year Game Opponent Result
1947 Glass Bowl Toledo L, 14-20
1975 D-II Quarterfinals Lehigh W, 35-21
1975 D-II Semifinals W. Kentucky L, 3-14
1976 D-II Quarterfinals Montana State L, 16-17
1991 I-AA First Round Samford L, 13-29
1994 I-AA First Round App. State L,10-17(OT)
2004 I-AA First Round Ga. Southern W, 27-23
2004 I-AA Quarterfinals Montana L, 17-47
2005 I-AA First Round Colgate W, 55-21
2005 I-AA Quarterfinals Northern Iowa L, 21-24
2006 FCS First Round Hampton W, 41-38
2006 FCS Quarterfinals UMass L, 17-24
2007 FCS First Round Northern Iowa L, 35-38
2008 FCS First Round Southern Illinois W, 29-20
2008 FCS Quarterfinals Northern Iowa L, 34-36
2009 FCS First Round McNeese State W, 49-13
2009 FCS Quarterfinals Villanova L, 7-46
2010 FCS Second Round Bethune-Cookman W, 45-20
2010 FCS Quarterfinals Delaware L, 3-16
2011 FCS Second Round Montana State L, 25-26
2012 FCS Second Round Wofford L, 7-23
2013 FCS First Round Lafayette W, 45-7
2013 FCS Second Round Maine W, 41-27
2013 FCS Quarterfinals Southeastern W, 20-17
2013 FCS Semifinals North Dakota State
Total Record: 10-14 • Coach McDonnell Record: 9-9
Best in the Region: Senior offensive lineman Ricky Archer, senior safety Manny Asam and junior wide receiver R.J. Harris were named to the 2013 FCS All-New England Team on Dec. 2. The team is selected by the New England Football Writers' Association.
Eight 'Cats Feted By CAA: A total of eight Wildcats received CAA All-Conference recognition on Tuesday. Junior wide receiver R.J. Harris headlined the list with a repeat selection to the First Team. Senior offensive lineman Ricky Archer (The Plains, Va.) and junior running back Nico Steriti (Toms River, N.J.) were named to the Second Team. The Third Team included sophomore linebacker Akil Anderson, senior safety Manny Asam, senior wide receiver Justin Mello, senior offensive lineman Seamus O'Neill and junior tight end Harold Spears.
College Sports Madness Announces Awards: College Sports Madness announced the Madness CAA All-Conference Football Team on Friday, Nov. 29. The Wildcats had four representatives on the Second Team and eight on the Third Team.
Second Team Offense (4): Nico Steriti (RB), Justin Mello (WR), R.J. Harris (WR), Seamus O'Neill (OL)
Third Team Offense (3): Harold Spears (TE), Ricky Archer (OL), Mike
Third Team Defense (5): Matt Kaplan (DL), Akil Anderson (LB), Casey DeAndrade (DB), Manny Asam (DB), Brad Prasky (P)
WHEN UNH HAS THE BALL: New Hampshire is averaging 32.0 points and 450.9 yards per game with a balanced attack of 202.2 rushing yards per game and 248.6 passing yards per game.
Junior wide receiver R.J. Harris and senior WR Justin Mello highlight the offense as they are tied for the team lead in receptions with 71. Mello leads the team in receiving yards (1,020) and receiving TDs (10). Harris, a CAA All-Conference First Team and All-New England Team selection who was also named Beyond Sports Network All-America Honorable Mention, ranks second in receiving yards (971) and receiving TDs (five) despite missing three games this season.
The ground game is led by junior running back Nico Steriti, an All-Conference Second Team selection. He has 19 1 carries for 1,021 yards and eight TDs. Senior RB Chris Setian is second in rushing yards (451) and rushing TDs (seven).
Junior Andy Vailas and sophomore Sean Goldrich have split the quarterback duties, but Goldrich has received the starting nod all three playoff games and in eight of the last 10.
Vailas started the first four games of the season and has six starts in eight games played; he has a 122.50 passer efficiency on 130 of 218 passing for 1,397 yards and nine TDs.
Goldrich, who also had four consecutive starts and eight overall in 14 games played, has a 145.28 passer rating on 145 of 238 passes for 1,959 yards and 14 TDs.
When the Opponent Has the Ball: UNH allows 20.9 points and 400.1 yards per game to rank second in the CAA and 14th in the nation in scoring defense. The Wildcats yield 156.4 rushing yards and 243.8 passing yards per game.
Sophomore linebacker Akil Anderson, an All-Conference Third Team honoree, and junior linebacker Shane McNeely both have recorded more than 100 tackles this season.
Anderson, who recorded a career-high 13 tackles in the NCAA second round game at Maine, has a team-high 63 unassisted tackles as part of his leading 114 overall tackles. He also leads the team in tackles for a loss (15), which includes 5.5 sacks. Anderson tallied double-digit tackles last week at Southeastern Louisiana (10) as well as at Lehigh University (Sept. 28) and at the University at Albany (Nov. 26).
McNeely has recorded 60 unassisted tackles and 51 assisted tackles. for a total of 111 He has been credited with six sacks, three forced fumbles and one fumble recovery, and he has two interceptions.
Senior safety Manny Asam, another Third Team selection, ranks third in tackles (90) with 60 unassisted tackles and 30 assisted tackles. He recorded double digits in tackles for the third time this season with 10 in the NCAA quarters at Southeastern Louisiana.
Redshirt freshman defensive back Casey DeAndrade is second in the nation in pass breakups with 18 and he has intercepted three passes, including one in the NCAA second round at Maine. He is also fourth on the team in tackles (65).
Special Teams: UNH has not allowed a blocked punt this season and Brad Prasky is averaging 41.3 yards/punt with a long of 77; he has 14 punts of longer than 50 yards and has pinned the opposition inside the 20 yard line a total of 20 times; 16 other of his 65 punts have resulted in a fair catch.
UNH had allowed just two blocked kicks through 13 games, but Southeastern Louisiana recorded three blocks (two FG, one PAT) last week.
Senior Mike MacArthur has made 15 of 20 field goal attempts this season with a long of 43 in the NCAA second round game at Maine (Dec. 7). At one point, MacArthur made 11 consecutive FG attempts spanning Sept. 28 to Nov. 23. MacArthur also has kickoff duties for the Wildcats and has five touchbacks on 81 kicks.
Redshirt freshman Dalton Crossan is UNH's top kickoff returner with an average of 23.6 on 17 returns, and that includes a 93-yard kickoff return for a TD in the first round game vs. Lafayette.
Inside the Win Streak: UNH enters Friday's semifinal game at North Dakota State with a six-game win streak consisting of victories vs. No. 22 James Madison University (33-17; Nov. 9), at Albany (37-20; Nov. 16), vs. No. 4 Maine (24-3; Nov. 23), vs. Lafayette (45-7; Nov. 30), at No. 8 Maine (41-27; Dec. 7) and at No. 7 Southeastern Louisiana (20-17; Dec. 14).
The Wildcats have outscored the opposition 200-91 in the six games, including 62-14 in the first quarter, while averaging 461.7 yards per game in comparison to the opposition's 365.7. There is a discernible difference in the rushing attack, where UNH is averaging 190.5 yards/game and the opponents are at 113.7.
New Hampshire's offense has converted 45 of 94 (47.9%) third downs and is 4-for-8 on fourth downs. The Wildcats' defense has held the opposition to 34 of 97 (35.1%) on third down and 6-for-17 on fourth down.
R.J. Harris is averaging 118.0 receiving yards per game with 45 catches for 708 yards (15.7 yards/reception); he has hauled in four TDs during the win streak. Justin Mello has 31 catches for 430 yards (71.2 yards/game; 13.9 yards/reception).
Nico Steriti (79 carries-421 yards) and Chris Setian (47-241) account for more than half of the team's rushes. Dalton Crossan (11-141) has been the most explosive at 12.8 yards per carry.
At quarterback, Sean Goldrich is 66 of 118 for 986 yards and six TDs for a 139.51 passer rating in five games played; he also has 51 rushes for 165 yards and three TDs. Andy Vailas is 43-for-78 for 560 yards and five TDs for a 134.03 rating in three games.
The defensive effort has been spearheaded by Akil Anderson (56 tackles) and Shane McNeely (48). McNeely's other stats include four sacks, two forced fumbles and an interception.
UNH has forced 10 turnovers (seven interceptions, three fumbles) while committing only four (three INTs, one fumble).
Tenfold: UNH has won nine of its last 10 games – the only loss was 17-0 at William & Mary (Nov. 2). The Wildcats recorded wins against nationally-ranked Villanova (29-28; Oct. 19), James Madison, Maine (twice) and Southern Louisiana since the 9-1 stretch began Oct. 12 against Rhode Island.
The 'Cats have outscored the opposition 319-168 with significant margins in the first (78-30), second (77-46) and fourth (108-55) quarters.
In nine games played during the stretch, Sean Goldrich has completed 132 of 218 passes for 1,755 yards and 12 TDs (142.67 passer rating); he also has 102 rushes for 333 yards and six TDs. In four games, Andy Vailas is 60 of 107 for 682 yards and five TDs (121.30 rating).
Wildcats in Underdog Role: In back-to-back weeks on the road, New Hampshire knocked off fifth-seeded and No. 8-ranked University of Maine in the FCS second round and then defeated fourth-seeded and No. 7-ranked Southeastern Louisiana University in the quarterfinals. In three of the last four weeks, the 'Cats have upended a higher-ranked team (all in the top 10).
Doubling Up: UNH has reached double digits in victories five times during its 10-year playoff run. The 2005 Wildcats finished with a school-record 11 wins; the 2004, 2008 and 2009 teams all had 10 wins.
Uncharted Territory: Friday's FCS semifinal game will be the first in UNH Wildcats football history in the state of North Dakota.
This is New Hampshire's first FCS semifinal appearance.
UNH has never had a pair of receivers eclipse 1,000 yards in the same season. R.J. Harris needs 29 receiving yards to attain 1,000; that mark was surpassed by Justin Mello (1,020) last weekend at Southeastern Louisiana.
What Just Happened: Southeastern Louisiana converted a fourth-and-goal into a touchdown to take a 17-14 lead with 5:17 remaining in the game, but UNH responded with a 14-play, 80-yard drive capped by Sean Goldrich's two-yard TD run with 47 seconds to play to record a 20-17 victory in last Saturday's quarterfinal game at Strawberry Stadium (Hammond, La.). SLU, which entered the game with a 10-game win streak, ends the season at 11-3.
Goldrich finished with career highs in carries (21), rushing yards (99) and rushing TDs (three). He also completed a career-high 24 passes on 35 attempts for 276 yards.
R.J. Harris recorded 11 catches for 110 yards while Justin Mello had five receptions for 84 yards. Nico Steriti carried the ball 14 times for 75 yards.
UNH's defense shackled SLU's potent offense, which entered the game No. 7 in the nation in scoring offense (40.1 ppg) and No. 9 in both rushing (245.8 yards/game) and total offense (494.0 yards/game). The Lions scored 17 points with 75 rushing yards and 344 total yards.
Manny Asam recorded 10 tackles and two pass breakups. He secured the victory by making the tackle on the final play of the game, which included two laterals, at the UNH 35.
Akil Anderson finished with 10 tackles – four for a loss –to tie Asam for the team lead. He was also credited with three pass breakups, including one on SLU's final drive.
The Last Time It Happened: Junior RB Nico Steriti has 1,021 rushing yards this season. The last UNH player to eclipse 1,000 rushing yards was Stephan Lewis with 1,152 in 2002.
The 2013 season marks just the second time in UNH football history with a 1,000-yard rusher and 1,000-yard receiver in the same year. Prior to this year (Nico Steriti - 1,021 rushing yards, Justin Mello - 1,020 receiving yards), it happened in 1993 with Avrom Smith (1,050 rushing) and David Gamble (1,138 receiving) both eclipsing 1,000.
Friday Night Lights: The last time UNH played on a Friday was Dec. 10, 2010, when the Wildcats were defeated 16-3 under the lights in an NCAA quarterfinal game at the University of Delaware.
A Roof Over Our Heads: New Hampshire played in a dome just last season and recorded a 44-21 win vs. Georgia State at the Georgia Dome. In two trips to the UNI Dome, the Wildcats were defeated by a total of five points – 38-35 in the 2007 NCAAs and 36-34 in the '08 NCAAs.
A Lions Share of Milestones: A quartet of 'Cats attained personal milestones in the NCAA quarterfinal victory at Southeastern Louisiana on Dec. 14. Junior WR R.J. Harris recorded 11 catches for 110 yards to record his 200th career reception and supplant Keith LeVan (2004-07) for No. 2 on the program's all-time receptions list; LeVan finished with 201 and Harris' career total now stands at 205.
Senior WR Justin Mello had five catches for 84 yards to increase his season total to 1,020 yards, which ranks No. 8 on UNH's list of single-season superlatives.
Harris and Mello climbed into a four-way tie for sixth on the program's single-season receptions list with 71 this year. Harris also entered the top 10 single-season receiving yards list with 971 (No. 9).
Junior RB Nico Steriti recorded the 14th 1,000-yard rushing season in UNH history when he eclipsed the mark during a 14-carry, 75-yard effort against SLU. That increased his career total to 1,021.
Sophomore QB Sean Goldrich surpassed 3,000 career passing yards during his 276-yard effort vs. the Lions, which increased his total to 3,161.
Sack Exchange: The New Hampshire defense entered the quarterfinals ranked No. 5 in the nation in sacks at 3.31 per game, but for just the second time this season the Wildcats did not record a sack in the 20-17 victory at Southeastern Louisiana.
UNH had recorded at least three sacks nine consecutive games spanning Oct. 12 through Dec. 7 and that included a season-high 10 sacks in the Nov. 30 NCAA first round win against Lafayette. One week earlier, the Wildcats tallied five sacks in the regular-season finale against fourth-ranked Maine.
Return To Running Form: In the last two regular-season games (at Albany, vs. Maine), the Wildcats ran the ball 88 times for 391 yards. In the finale against the Black Bears, UNH had 50 carries – second highest total to the 51 vs. Villanova (Oct. 19) – for 213 yards.
UNH ran the ball 38 times for 178 yards (4.7 yards/carry) at Albany. That exceeded the combined total of 170 running yards the previous two games against William & Mary (84) and James Madison (86) and marked the team's best yards per carry since the fifth game of the year vs. Rhode Island (season-best 7.7 yards/carry).
The rebirth of the run game continued in the NCAA first round vs. Lafayette with 37 carries for 283 yards; the yardage and yards per carry (7.6) both rank second in the 2013 season. The 'Cats rushed the ball 43 times for 180 yards in the second round game at Maine and eclipsed 200 rushing yards for the seventh time this season – and third time in four weeks – with 203 on 44 carries at Southeastern Louisiana.
Staunch Defense: Prior to the regular-season finale and NCAA first round games, when the Wildcats allowed three points to Maine and seven to Lafayette, the last time UNH held opponents to single digits in consecutive weeks was a four-game stretch in October – November 1995. (Maine-0, Boston U.-7, Richmond-7, Villanova-9).
UNH's defense shut out the opposition five consecutive quarters – the second half vs. Maine and first three quarters vs. Lafayette – with a shutout streak of 85 minutes, 19 seconds.
The Wildcats' defense did not surrender a TD in eight straight quarters – fourth quarter at Albany, all four quarters vs. Maine and the initial three quarters against Lafayette – until the Leopards scored with 4:50 remaining in the fourth quarter during UNH's 45-7 first-round win.
Turnover Battle: UNH did not commit a turnover the last two games of the regular season against Albany and Maine and turned the ball over just once the previous game vs. James Madison. The Wildcats' defense gained a pair of turnovers all three of those games.
In postseason play, UNH was even vs. Lafayette (one turnover each), a +1 at Maine in the second round (one turnover; two turnovers forced) and even at Southeastern Louisiana (once again with one turnover each).
UNH has won the turnover battle in six of 14 games and is 5-1 in those games (the lone loss was at Lehigh with a +2 margin). The 'Cats lost the turnover battle four times and went 1-3 in those games (only win vs. Colgate at -1).
Deductive reasoning leads to a draw in the turnover battle four times with New Hampshire going 4-0 with wins in back-to-back games vs. Rhode Island and Villanova, the first round game vs. Lafayette and quarterfinal at Southeastern Louisiana.
Overall, UNH has not committed a turnover in 5 of 14 games and the defense has recorded at least one turnover in 12 of 14 games with nine multiple-turnover efforts.
Reversal of Road Fortunes: UNH has a 4-4 road record this season but has won three straight games away from home, including each of the last two weeks in postseason play.
The 'Cats have outscored the home team 74-23 in the first quarter but the opposition has the edge in both the second (54-48) and third (65-24) quarters.
Conversion Rates: The past six weeks, New Hampshire's offense has been highly-successful at extending drives by converting third downs into first downs. In this span, which began Nov. 9 vs. James Madison, UNH is 45-for-94 (47.9%), which is higher than the season total (42.2%).
In three postseason games, UNH has a 50.0% conversion rate (21-for-42) in comparison to 35.4% for the opposing teams; the 'Cats limited Lafayette to 3 of 15 in the first round and Maine to 3 of 13 in the second round.
The Wildcats were highly proficient at third down conversions the last three weeks of the regular season – 46.2% – and that included 10-for-17 (58.8%) vs. James Madison. UNH's defense, meanwhile, did not allow opponents to extend drives by allowing just seven first downs on 30 third downs (23.3%) the last two weeks against Albany and Maine.
Well-Disciplined 'Cats: Since being called for 11 penalties for 137 yards – both season highs – at Albany (Nov. 16), the Wildcats have been penalized a total of 15 times for 138 yards in four games. UNH is No. 12 in the nation in penalties/game (4.57) and No. 24 in penalty yards/game (43.79). The 'Cats were not flagged for a penalty Oct. 19 vs. Villanova and were called for just one penalty against both Rhode Island (Oct. 12) and Maine (Nov. 23).
STERITI RUNS PAST 2,000: Junior RB Nico Steriti entered UNH's Top 10 list in career rushing yards during his 68-yard effort vs. James Madison on Nov. 9, when he surpassed both Curt Collins and Jim Quinn. He eclipsed 2,000 career yards during a 139-yard ground game vs. Maine (Nov. 23) and moved into a tie for eighth with 74 rushing yards against the Black Bears in the NCAA second round game.
UNH All-Time Leading Rushers
1. Jerry Azumah (1995-98) 6,193
7. Chad Kackert (2006-09) 2,587
8. Nico Steriti (2011-present) 2,312
HARRIS AMONG BEST IN SCHOOL HISTORY: Junior WR R.J. Harris climbed one spot on the UNH career receiving yards leaderboard each of the last three weeks of the regular season and is currently No. 5.
Harris ascended to second place on the program's all-time receptions leaderboard with the eighth of his 11 catches in the Dec. 14 quarterfinal game at Southeastern Louisiana.
1. David Ball (2003-06) 4,655
4. John Perry (1989-92) 2,873
5. R.J. Harris (2011-present) 2,744
1. David Ball (2003-06) 304
2. R.J. Harris (2011-present) 205
MONEY MIKE IS ALL-TIME FG KING: Senior Mike MacArthur took over UNH's all-time lead in field goals by successfully hitting a 23-yard attempt – the 41st make of his career – in the third quarter of the Wildcats' 29-28 victory vs. Villanova at Cowell Stadium on Oct. 19.
MacArthur made 11 consecutive field goals spanning Sept. 28 to Nov. 23, when his 32-yard field goal attempt was blocked by Maine.
MacArthur, who surpassed Connor McCormick (40, 2002-05), climbed into a tie for ninth place on the CAA leaderboard with field goals of 29 and 35 yards against James Madison (Nov. 9); the 35-yarder matched his long for the season.
He matched his personal best of three FGs in a game with makes of 31, 33 and 34 yards Nov. 16 at Albany, and he vaulted into seventh place on the conference leaderboard.
MacArthur then climbed into a three-way tie for fifth place with a 25-yard field goal vs. Maine. He made a 23-yarder in the NCAA first round to climb into a tie for fourth and ascended to No. 3 with two more makes (43, 22) in the NCAA second round. Here is a look at the CAA all-time FG made list.
Rank FG Name School Years
1. 59 Greg Kuehn W&M 2002-05
2. 55 Andrew Howard Richmond 2006-09
3. 51 Mike MacArthur UNH 2010-13
UNH Beats Back Black Bears (NCAA 2nd Round): UNH defeated eighth-ranked and No. 5-seed Maine, 41-27, at Alfond Stadium on Dec. 7 to mark the first time in program history the Wildcats recorded multiple playoff wins in one season as well as their first postseason victory against a league opponent (previously 0-3).
UNH passed for 315 yards – the second highest total of the year – with season-high averages of 11.2 yards per attempt (28 attempts) and 18.5 yards per completion (17).
Sophomore quarterback Sean Goldrich threw for a career-high 291 yards and three touchdowns. His 48-yard strike to Jimmy Giansante put UNH ahead to stay, 17-10, at 7:40 of the second quarter. At the start of the third quarter, Goldrich engineered an eight-play, 51-yard drive that culminated in a three-yard TD pass to Justin Mello to give the 'Cats a 27-17 lead. Mello finished with five catches for a team-high 90 yards, including a 57-yard touchdown catch that gave New Hampshire a 10-7 lead at 5:02 of the first quarter.
Senior running back Chris Setian ran for a pair of fourth-quarter TDs to help seal the victory. His 12-yard run extended the advantage to 34-20 at 6:47 and then a seven-yard rush made it 41-20 at 2:42.
Akil Anderson recorded a career-high 13 tackles. Both Casey DeAndrade and Steven Thames had an interception.
Milestones Made at Maine: A handful of Wildcats attained personal milestones during the NCAA second round win at Maine (Dec. 7). Senior kicker Mike MacArthur ascended to third on the CAA all-time field goal leaderboard with kicks of 43 (season long) and 22 yards to increase his career total to 51 FGs.
Junior WR R.J. Harris entered that game with 188 career receptions and surpassed both John Perry (191) and Curtis Olds (193) with six catches to climb to No. 3 on the school's all-time leaderboard with 194.
Harris also advanced to No. 5 on the career receiving yards list with 85 to increase his total to 2,634. He moved past Chris Braune (1986-89), who amassed 2,612 receiving yards.
Sophomore QB Sean Goldrich eclipsed 1,500 passing yards this season with his career-high 291-yard performance against the Black Bears, which increased his season total to 1,683.
Junior LB Shane McNeely recorded his 100th tackle of the season with the fourth of his eight tackles vs. Maine.
Sophomore LB Akil Anderson also recorded his 100th tackle of the season with the ninth of his career-high 13 at Maine.
UNH wins Cat Fight against Lafayette: The New Hampshire Wildcats rolled to a 45-7 victory against the Lafayette Leopards in an NCAA first round game Nov. 30 at Cowell Stadium. UNH built a 21-0 lead through one quarter and led 31-0 at halftime, then extended the advantage to 38-0 at the end of three. Lafayette avoided the shutout with a TD at 4:50 of the fourth quarter.
UNH recorded a season-high 10 sacks, which doubled the previous best of five sacks established the previous week vs. Maine. Senior defensive end Jay Colbert spearheaded the defense with four tackles for a loss, including three sacks. UNH yielded a season-low 73 rushing yards – and only 1.9 yards per carry – to the Leopards.
The Wildcats rushed for 283 yards, including a game- and season-high 84 yards on six carries for Dalton Crossan. Crossan amassed 131 all-purpose yards and scored two TDs (17-yard reception and 56-yard run). R.J. Harris led the aerial attack with eight catches for 173 yards. Nick Cefalo recorded an 86-yard punt return for TD; the previous UNH punt return for a touchdown was Sept. 10, 2011, at Lehigh (Joey Orlando, 56 yards).
UNH finished with 283 rushing yards and 268 passing yards to mark just the second time this season the team eclipsed 250 rushing and passing yards in the same game. (Sept. 24 vs. Colgate; 263 rushing, 288 passing). It marked the only game this season the 'Cats didn't allow a sack.
Milestones Toppled: A handful of UNH Wildcats recorded individual milestones in the NCAA first-round victory vs. Lafayette College at Cowell Stadium on Nov. 30.
Senior WR Justin Mello recorded 49 receiving yards to eclipse 1,500 career receiving yards. Mello (846 yards) also moved into UNH's top 10 single-season receiving yards list by supplanting Keith LeVan (843).
Junior WR R.J. Harris recorded eight catches for 173 yards against the Leopards. That increased his total to 188 career receptions to rank fifth as Harris moved past David Gamble (182). Harris also eclipsed 3,000 all-purpose yards for his career (3,105 following that game).
Sophomore QB Sean Goldrich surpassed 2,500 career passing yards with 267 vs. Lafayette. His total stood at 2,594 following the game.
Sophomore LB Akil Anderson recorded his 100th career tackle with the first of his six against Lafayette.
Junior S Nick Cefalo also recorded his 100th career tackle with the second of his four vs. the Leopards.
Senior K Mike MacArthur climbed into a tie for fourth place on the CAA career field goal leaderboard with the 49th of his career, a 23-yard field goal vs. Lafayette.
Force and Recover: Junior linebacker Shane McNeely forced a fumble in the first round playoff game vs. Lafayette and senior defensive tackle Sean McCann recovered the ball to give possession to the Wildcats. One week earlier in the regular-season finale against Maine, McNeely forced a fumble that McCann recovered.
The Musket Stays in Durham: The 21st-ranked UNH football team retained the Brice-Cowell Musket with a 24-3 victory against (then) No. 4-ranked Maine in the Nov. 23 regular-season finale at Cowell Stadium. It marked the third consecutive year and 10th time in 11 years the Wildcats defeated the Black Bears to win the battle for the musket.
The 'Cats took a 7-0 lead at 7:02 of the first quarter on a five-yard pass from Andy Vailas to Jordan Powell for his first career TD reception. Mike MacArthur extended the advantage to 10-0 with a 25-yard field goal at 9:52 and the visitors closed within 10-3 on a 27-yard FG with nine seconds remaining in the half. A Sean Goldrich to Jimmy Giansante six-yard TD connection made it 17-3 at 3:13 of the third quarter and Nico Steriti closed the scoring with a 68-yard TD run at 13:01 of the fourth quarter.
Steriti finished with 18 carries for 139 yards as the 'Cats had 50 rushes for 213 yards and 331 yards of total offense. R.J. Harris was the top aerial threat with six catches for 72 yards.
UNH's defense limited Maine, which entered the game averaging 440.2 yards and 32.5 points per game, to 315 total yards and three points. The Wildcats shut out the Black Bears in the second half on 134 yards of offense and recorded five sacks overall, which was a season high at the time.
Manny Asam and Akil Anderson tied for the team lead with eight tackles. Casey DeAndrade recorded a career-high seven tackles and his second interception of the season, and Sean McCann tallied two sacks and a fumble recovery.
Maine Milestones: Junior RB Nico Steriti eclipsed the 2,000-yard rushing career mark and 1,000 all-purpose yards for the season in the regular-season finale against the Black Bears. He finished with 139 rushing yards and 10 receiving yards to increase his career rushing total to 2,117 and season all-purpose yardage mark to 1,088.
R.J. Harris supplanted Mike Boyle for sixth place on UNH's career receiving yards with 72 against Maine to increase his career total to 2,376; Boyle finished with 2,317.
With a 25-yard field goal in the second quarter against the Black Bears, Mike MacArthur climbed into a three-way tie for fifth place on the CAA career leaderboard with his 48th field goal.
How Low Can You Go: In the Nov. 23 regular-season finale, UNH held Maine's rushing attack to 95 yards – the lowest by an opponent during the regular season – and the Black Bears' 315 total yards marked the third lowest total allowed in 2013. The last time the Wildcats held an opponent to less than 100 rushing yards was Oct. 20, 2012, when once again it was Maine with 95 yards on the ground.
Capital Milestones: A handful of Wildcats recorded personal milestones in the Nov. 16 game at Albany. Senior placekicker Mike MacArthur climbed two spots to No. 7 on the CAA career leaderboard for field goals made with three FGs at Albany, which increased his total to 47. With 85 receiving yards vs. Albany, junior wide receiver R.J. Harris increased his career total to 2,304 to climb past Keith LeVan (2,234) into No. 7 on the program's leaderboard.
Junior running back Nico Steriti eclipsed 3,000 career all-purpose yards with 78 (19 rush yds, 59 kickoff return yds) against the Great Danes.
Sophomore quarterback Sean Goldrich surpassed 1,000 passing yards for the season during a 114-yard effort in Albany. That number increased Goldrich's season total to 1,087 passing yards.
He. Could. Go. All. The. Way: In the Nov. 16 game at Albany, redshirt freshman running back Dalton Crossan recorded a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to give UNH a 34-20 lead at 8:04 of the fourth quarter. Prior to Crossan, the Wildcats' most recent kickoff return for a TD occurred Sept. 4, 2010, when Terrance Fox scored on a 91-yard return.
Career Highs: Led by Akil Anderson and Shane McNeely, a total of six Wildcats recorded career highs in tackles at Albany. Both linebackers tallied a team-high 12 tackles vs. the Great Danes. Defensive end Jay Colbert finished with a personal-best seven tackles, as did defensive tackle Sean McCann and safety Tre Williams, who also registered his first career sack.
Out of Character: New Hampshire was penalized 11 times for 137 yards in the 37-20 win at Albany on Nov. 16. In contrast, the Wildcats were called for a total of 13 penalties for 121 yards the previous five games (spanning Oct. 12 to Nov. 9). The previous time UNH recorded 100+ penalty yards in a game was Sept. 24, 2011 vs. Richmond (106).
NOVEMBER REIGN: New Hampshire has not had a losing record in November since 2007, when the 'Cats went 1-3 (including a postseason loss). UNH had winning marks in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013, and went 1-1 last November. UNH completed the November 2013 schedule at 4-1, including the playoff victory.
100 Times Two: R.J. Harris (183) and Justin Mello (123) became the first UNH duo to exceed 100 receiving yards in the same game (Nov. 9 vs. James Madison) since Harris and Joey Orlando accomplished the feat Aug. 30, 2012 at Holy Cross.
AN UNLIKELY SOURCE: On his first career pass attempt, junior running back Nico Steriti completed a 52-yard halfback-option touchdown pass to classmate R.J. Harris to give UNH a 14-0 lead at 3:58 of the second quarter against James Madison on Nov. 9. It still stands as the Wildcats' longest TD pass of the season and fourth-longest pass play in the 2013 season.
Steriti also completed his only pass attempt in both games vs. Maine. On Nov. 23, he connected with QB Andy Vailas for a four-yard pass play. In the Dec. 7 NCAA second round, Steriti completed a 24-yard pass to Harold Spears.
Quarterback Milestones: Junior quarterback Andy Vailas surpassed 1,000 passing yards in the 2013 season during his career-high 397-yard effort Nov. 9 vs. James Madison.
Vailas eclipsed 3,000 career total offense yards in the Nov. 2 game at William & Mary, when he recorded 122 passing yards and 19 rushing yards to increase his total to 3,071. He also reached 1,000 yards total offense for the season in that game.
Sophomore quarterback Sean Goldrich surpassed 2,500 career total offense yards at William & Mary. With 106 passing yards and 11 rushing yards vs. the Tribe, Goldrich increased his total to 2,581.
CAREER DAY FOR 'CATS VS. JMU: Junior quarterback Andy Vailas completed 28 of 49 assists for 397 yards – all career highs – Nov. 9 vs. James Madison.
Senior wide receiver Justin Mello tallied personal bests in both catches (10) and receiving yards (123). It marked his fourth 100-yard yard receiving game of the season and fifth of his career.
Junior wide receiver R.J. Harris hauled in a career-high three touchdown catches vs. the Dukes.
On the defensive side of the ball, junior cornerback Steven Thames and redshirt defensive back Casey DeAndrade both matched their career highs in tackles with six apiece. DeAndrade finished with five solo tackles and one assisted while Thames tallied four solo and two assisted.
Senior safety Manny Asam eclipsed 200 career tackles during his six-tackle effort against James Madison (Nov. 9). He currently has 227 tackles.
Senior defensive tackle Sean McCann eclipsed 100 career tackles with the first of his three tackles Nov. 9 against James Madison. He currently has 114 tackles.
A REGAL EFFORT VS. THE DUKES: New Hampshire recorded season highs in yards passing (449), pass attempts (50), pass completions (29–tie), TD passes (three–tie), total plays (82) and interceptions (two–tie) against James Madison on Nov. 9.
Defensively, the Wildcats shut out the Dukes in the first half; one week earlier, the 'Cats blanked William & Mary in the fourth quarter for a total of three consecutive scoreless quarters by the opposition.
Tackling the Tribe: UNH's defense shut out William & Mary in the first and fourth quarters, and the Wildcats surrendered a season-low 14 first downs.
It Had Been A While: New Hampshire was held below 100 rushing yards for the first time in 2013 when the Wildcats had 26 carries for 84 yards at William & Mary (Nov. 2). The previous time UNH didn't amass at least 100 rushing yards in a game was the 2012 NCAA playoff game at Wofford (34 carries, 73 yards). The game at W&M also marked season lows in rushes (26).
It Had Been a Long While: UNH's 17-0 loss at William & Mary marked the first time since Sept. 23, 1995 that the Wildcats were shut out. The Tribe was also the opponent that date.
Back in October: UNH went 3-1 in October and closed the month with three consecutive wins. Nico Steriti was the top rusher with 63 carries for 327 yards (5.2 yards/carry) and three TDs. Sean Goldrich had a 153.53 pass efficiency rating by completing 60 of 92 attempts (65.2%) for 716 yards and seven TDs with just one interception. Justin Mello was the top target through the air with 23 catches for 281 yards and five touchdowns.
DEFENSIVE CLAMPS: UNH's defense forced three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble) Oct. 26 at Stony Brook, which tied the season high established Oct. 5 at Towson and matched Oct. 12 vs. Rhode Island. The Wildcats limited Stony Brook to 286 yards of offense to mark the second-lowest total by an opponent in 2013; the 'Cats held Colgate to 278 yards in the Sept. 14 home opener.
LIFE AFTER COCCIA: Oct. 26 at Stony Brook marked the first game the Wildcats were without Mike Coccia at center since Dec. 10, 2010. Coccia started the first 30 games of his collegiate career, but he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery Oct. 21. Redshirt freshman Tad McNeely has taken over at center with classmate Alexander Morrill settling in at left guard.