AMHERST, Mass. – The No. 9 ranked University of New Hampshire football team was defeated by No. 3 ranked University of Massachusetts, 24-17 in the NCAA Division I Championship Quarterfinals on Saturday afternoon in front of 17, 000 fans at a soldout McGuirk Stadium.
Santos posted his 99th career passing touchdown, which tied a Atlantic 10 record held by former Villanova quarterback Chris Boden, while senior wide receiver David Ball (Orange, Vt.) notched his 300th career reception as a Wildcat in the loss.
The Wildcats moved the ball down to the Minutemen six-yard line with less than a minute left in the game and Santos' pass to junior wide receiver Keith LeVan (Waltham, Mass.) on 4th and 1 was incomplete with 29 seconds left.
Santos finished the game 16 for 26 with 129 yards passing and 61 yards on the ground, while Ball notched six receptions for 54 yards receiving in his final game at UNH.
Cohen gave UMass a 21-17 lead on a 31-yard TD strike to Brandon London with 6:21 left in the third quarter. Brad Anderson intercepted a pass by Santos at 13:30 of the final quarter, which marked UNH’s first turnover of the day. UMass got a 33-yard field goal by Chris Koepplin to give Massachusetts’ a 24-17 advantage with 11 minutes left in the game.
With UNH on their 44 yard line, UMass took a 14-yard pass interenference penalty with 15 seconds left. The Wildcats with the ball at the 30-yard line capitalized with 41-yard field goal to end the half and headed into the locker room with a 17-14 lead.
Senior free safety Jeff Pammer (Northampton, Pa.) intercepted a Cohen pass with UMass with 4:19 left in the opening half and the ‘Cats started their drive on the UNH 41 yard line. Santos evened the game, 14-14 on an 11-yard TD pass to LeVan. UNH needed only seven plays on 39 yards in 2:41. UNH forced to Minutemen turnovers in the first half.
Massachusetts retook the lead at 14-7 with a six-yard TD pass from Liam Cohen to Ian Jorgensen with 8:56 left in the second quarter. UMass drove on six plays and 84 yards in two minutes and nine seconds.
Senior strong safety Muji Karim (Burlington, Vt.) recovered a fumble by Cohen with UMass at the UNH 1-yard line with 58 seconds remaining in the first frame. The game was 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.
With 7:21 left in the quarter, UMass had third down and eight to go and Pammer came up with a huge sack on Liam Cohen to setup a 42-yard failed field goal attempt by Chris Koepplin.
The Wildcats responded with a 87-yard touchdown run by Chad Kackert (Simi Valley, Calif.) to even the game at 7-7 with 11:51 left in the opening quarter. Kackert found a hole up the left sideline and beat two Minutemen defenders to the endzone. Kackert led the Wildcats offense with 107 yards on seven rushes, while sophomore running back Robert Simpson (Brockton, Mass.) totaled 59 yards on 11 carries.
Steve Baylark gave the Minutemen a 7-0 lead with 12:31 left in the first quarter on a one-yard touchdown run. UMass marched down the field with six plays and 98 yards in 2:29 in their opening drive. Baylark gained 198 yards on the day on 23 carries in the win for the Minutemen.
New Hampshire (9-4 overall, 5-3 Atlantic 10) ends its season after making it to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the third straight season. The ‘Cats were the first Atlantic 10 team in conference history to accomplish that feat.
These were two very good football teams, both offenses came into the game in high regard and they both played well. I have to give their defense lots of credit in the second half, we got lucky and executed a fake and made a play there. Chad made and great catch and Ricky made a great throw. It’s a great feeling.
We had looked at their return and a couple times we were going call it and I just didn’t feel it. If we were going to do it, we were doing it now. The play was supposed to go right and Loring audibled left. I said go green and he went in. We had this in place all year and we never used it.
Our kids executed and they did a great job of it. We had a quick strike at the end of the half and I was really surprised at the amount of passes they threw. Coleman is a heck of a football player, they have been a good running football team.
Ricky- We went in at halftime and then came out flat. But then we executed in the end. They did an outstanding job of giving me time at the end of the game, especially after their defense had gotten to me a couple of times. Our receivers did a great job all day and I think they had their best game of the year. You have to threat the needle and we did what we needed to do as an offense to win this game. He is the best decoy in the nation, he was a key contributor into making that play happen.
It’s a great opportunity and it’s great to be going to Amherst. It should be a great game.
Kackert- I got outside and Rick threw a perfect ball, I just got to where he was going to throw it.
Wagner- The emotion overtakes you and Marvin made a nice move to the quarterback and we knew that’s what we needed to do it win, to get to the quarterback.