~Ball named 19th Bill Knight Award Winner, Santos becomes all-time school passing touchdown leader~
AMHERST, Mass. - Junior wide receiver David Ball (Orange, Vt.) caught four touchdown passes and posted 199 yards on nine catches to lead the fourth ranked University of New Hampshire football team to a 34-28 Atlantic 10 victory against the University of Massachusetts on Saturday afternoon in front of 12,539 fans at McGuirk Alumni Stadium.
Ball was named the 19th recipient of the Bill Knight Award, which is given annually to the Most Valuable Player of the UMass/UNH football game. He is the 12th UNH player to earn the award in its 19-year history.
Sophomore quarterback Ricky Santos (Bellingham, Mass.) became UNH's all-time school passing touchdown leader with four touchdowns and 248 yards passing. Santos finished the day with 18 completions on 28 attempts, he now has 56 career passing touchdowns, which broke former Wildcat Ryan Day's record of 52.
"I thought the game set itself up to be a huge game, with their defense and our offense, I thought we came out an executed just better than they did and I thought our defense played a lot better than I think people thought they would. They have been doing it all year for us," said Ball.
With the victory the 'Cats improve to 7-1 overall, while Massachusetts drops to 6-2 overall. The teams are currently tied atop the Atlantic 10 North Division standings with 5-1 records in league play.
"I thought it was an unbelievable college football game with two very good football teams playing hard," said UNH coach Sean McDonnell. "The offense made some big plays and then we got it going on defense. I am very proud of the way our football team played today, they played very hard in a tough place to win football games and we beat a very good football team. We just happened to make more plays today."
Ball added another touchdown at 4:23 of third quarter on a leaping grab in the end zone from Santos and two duo connected once again on a 33-yard scoring play with 13:43 remaining in the game.
Senior kicker Connor McCormick added a 40-yard field goal as time expired to give UNH a 17-7 lead at halftime. He also added a 29-yarder to up the New Hampshire lead to 34-21 with 9:47 remaining in the fourth quarter, which capped off UNH's scoring for the game.
The Minutemen got on the board late in the second quarter with 2:35 remaining on 14-yard touchdown pass from Liam Cohen to Brandon London.
UNH extended its lead to 14-0 on a four-yard touchdown strike from Santos to Ball at the 14:40 mark of the second session.
With 2:56 remaining in the first quarter the Wildcats came up big on defense stopping UMass on fourth down on an attempted pass to Tim Day which was defended by senior strong safety Baron Flenory (Pittsburgh, Pa.) .
The Wildcats got of the board first in the game with a 45-yard touchdown from Santos with 13:15 left in the first quarter. That play consumed six plays and 65 yards in 1 minute and 45 seconds to give UNH a 7-0 lead.
The Wildcat football team returns to action on Nov. 5 at Hofstra. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.