Sophomore defensive back Corey Graham (Buffalo, N.Y.) returned an interception 25 yards for the game-winning TD with 5:24 to play and led UNH to a 27-23 victory at Northeastern Saturday afternoon. UNH is now 5-0 on the road and guaranteed a winning season with its sixth victory of 2004 (6-2 overall, 3-2 Atlantic 10. The Wildcats are also alone at the top of the North Division in the Atlantic 10 standings.
UNH ended the final three Northeastern drives of the game to lead the team to the victory. With 7:43 to play and NU leading 23-21, Shawn Brady's pass was tipped at the line by E.J. DeWitt, and Jared Perkoski came down with the interception at the UNH 38. The Wildcats failed to get a first down, but Matt Henry's 49-yard punt pinned the Huskies at their own four with 5:35 remaining.
On the next play, Corey Graham picked off Brady's sideline pass and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown, putting New Hampshire ahead 27-23. The Wildcats' two-point conversion attempt was unsuccessful.
Brady drove the Huskies (3-5, 2-3 A10) all the way down to the seven-yard line with 45 seconds left, but once again his pass was tipped at the line, this time by George Peterson. The ball fell into the arms of DeWitt at the six, and UNH ran out the clock to preserve the win.
James West's 11-yard touchdown run with 3:40 left in the third put the Huskies up 23-14.
The Wildcats (6-2, 3-2 A10) cut it to 23-21 by using a bit of trickery. Quarterback Ricky Santos pitched the football to Hassan Noble on an end around. Once Noble got outside the tackle, he stopped and threw back across the field to Santos, who ran 21 yards for the touchdown.
The first half was a tale of two quarters as New Hampshire led 14-0 after the first, but Northeastern came back with 17 unanswered points in the second.
UNH took the opening kickoff and marched 71 yards in eight plays, the last a one-yard touchdown plunge by Santos that gave the Wildcats a 7-0 lead.
John McCoy put New Hampshire up 14-0 on a five-yard run with 7:38 left in the first quarter. Santos kept the drive alive with a 49-yard bomb to Kevin LeVan on a third-and-25 play.
Northeastern's offense got going in the second quarter. Brady connected with Pat Graham on a 27-yard completion along the near sideline, and a personal foul penalty put the ball at the UNH 12. One play later, with the ball at the eight, the Huskies ran a halfback option to Shawnn Gyles, who lofted a pass to Shane Hopkins in the back of the end zone. Hopkins leaped up to snag it and just got his feet inbounds, cutting the deficit to 14-7.
Kesic's 26-yard field goal with 2:17 remaining in the half brought NU within four, at 14-10.
UNH's David Ball made nine catches for 128 yards. It was his sixth game of the season with over 100 receiving yards. He is now second on UNH's all-time season receiving yards list with 1,113. He now needs just 26 yards to become UNH's all-time season leader. Ball also needs just five more receptions to take over the all-time season lead at UNH. He checks in with 67 in 2004.