UNH FOOTBALL MEDIA NOTES (JMU 9/8/07)
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UNH OPENS 2007 WITH KEY CAA MATCHUP ON THE ROAD AT JAMES MADISON:  Following an off week to open the 2007 campaign, No. 5 UNH will play its first contest of the year against a key CAA opponent in No. 10-ranked James Madison, a team that defeated the Wildcats in Durham last season by a decisive 42-23 margin. The Dukes opened the season on Saturday at FBS opponent North Carolina and fell to the Tar Heels by a 37-14 margin.  The JMU running game was effective and led by senior tailback Eugene Holloman, who carried 23 times for 82 yds. and quarterback Rodney Landers ran 14 times for 71 yds. Landers passed for a 4 yd TD and ran for an 8-yarder. JMU also has a top candidate for Defensive Player of the Year in senior free safety Tony LeZotte, who led the way with 11 tackles vs. UNC. UNH will be led once again by senior quarterback and 2006 Walter Payton Award winner Ricky Santos, and he has a number of outstanding athletes at the skill positions to work with, such as senior wide receiver Keith LeVan, who played well in UNH's final scrimmage and sophomore running back Chad Kackert, who finished strong last season with game-winning TDs at Maine in the final regular season game and Hampton in the NCAA tournament.  The Wildcats also return senior free safety Jeff Pammer on defense, who should move into the top 10 all time for tackles at UNH this season.

RICKY SANTOS NEEDS JUST ONE MORE TD PASS TO REACH THE CENTURY MARK AND BREAK THE ALL-TIME CAA RECORD FOR CAREER TD PASSES: History could be made in Harrisonburg on Sept 8 should senior quarterback Ricky Santos (Bellingham, Mass.) throw a TD pass against JMU. One more and the top passer in UNH school history will make another step towards becoming the top passer in CAA football history. He needs just one more TD to reach 100, which breaks the all-time conference mark of 99 TD, which he and Chris Boden of Villanova both own. Santos also needs just three more completions to surpass Boden's mark of 868 completions, which he recorded from 1996-1999. Santos enters the contest with 866 completions. Santos, the preseason CAA Offensive Player of the Year selection and last year's Walter Payton Award winner as the top player in FCS football, can also rewrite history if he can play well enough to become the only player in FCS to ever win the Walter Payton Award twice. Santos, who won the honor in 2006, was second in the voting in 2005 by just five points, the closest margin in award history.


THE SERIES VS. JAMES MADISON: The Dukes lead the all-time series by a 6-5 margin after defeating the Wildcats in Durham last season by a 42-23 margin. No UNH player has competed at Bridgeforth Stadium as the last time the Wildcats made the trip South was back in 2002 and JMU won that meeting by a 20-14 margin. The last time the Wildcats defeated the Dukes was in 2005, 20-17 at Cowell Stadium. 

UNH FOOTBALL IN RECENT SEASON-OPENING CONTESTS:
UNH football under ninth-year head coach Sean McDonnell has made it a habit to get out of the gates quickly with victories. Last season UNH opened with a thrilling victory over Big 10 power Northwestern, 34-17. The Wildcats have won four straight season openers since 2003 with wins over Central Connecticut, Delaware, UC Davis and Northwestern. McDonnell has led his team to an 7-1 winning record in openers since taking over the program in 2000.

WILDCATS THE ONLY TEAM IN CAA FOOTBALL HISTORY TO ADVANCE TO THE NCAA QUARTERFINALS THREE CONSECUTIVE TIMES: The University of New Hampshire football team advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals for the third consecutive time last season and is the only team in the history of CAA football ever to accomplish that feat.

UNH FOOTBALL BOASTS A 30-9 RECORD OVER THE PAST THREE SEASONS: The UNH Wildcats have enjoyed impressive success over the past three seasons, posting an impressive record of 30-9 during that timespan under head coach Sean McDonnell.

UNH'S BRAND NEW FIELDTURF PLAYING SURFACE AT COWELL STADIUM SET FOR DEBUT ON SEPT 22 WHEN UNH BATTLES DARTMOUTH:  Construction on UNH's brand new state-of-the art Field Turf playing surface is winding down and the Wildcats are excited to play their first game on the new field on Sept. 22 when the squad battles Dartmouth. The new field was made possible thanks to a generous given by UNH alum Ed Fish. The new field is exactly the same as the field used by the NFLs New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium.

UNH'S BRAND NEW AWAY UNIFORMS TO DEBUT ON CN8-TV AT JMU: UNH fans will get their very first look at UNH's brand new white Nike away uniforms when they watch the football game at JMU live on CN8-TV.

WATCH ALL UNH FOOTBALL HOME GAMES AT UNHWILDCATS.TV: Can't make it to the game? Now you can follow the action of UNH Athletics live on your computer. UNH has partnered with Pack Network to provide online video streaming of UNH’s seven ticketed sports for the upcoming 2007-08 season. UNH fans are encouraged to buy the “Wildcat All-Access Pass” which is an annual subscription for $79.95 that provides not only all the live coverage of various UNH home athletic events, but also premium content not available to view without the All-Access Pass. The premium content includes a behind-the-scenes look at UNH athletics through player and coaches interviews, highlights, podcasts, select post-game interviews and an in-depth archive section of all video available on UNHwildcats.TV. Fans can also purchase home events on a per-game basis for $6.95. The UNHwildcats.TV website will regularly have live UNH football, men’s and women’s basketball, men’s and women’s hockey, volleyball and gymnastics. Want to learn more? Chick out the tile on the front page of wwwlunhwildcats.com where you can sign up or e-mail any questions and comments you may have to info@UNHwildcats.TV.

UNH FOOTBALL PICKED TO FINISH SECOND IN CAA NORTH DIVISION; SANTOS AND PAMMER NAMED TO FIRST-TEAM PRESEASON ALL-CAA SQUAD:  The University of New Hampshire football team was picked to finish second in the North Division of the Colonial Athletic Association, according to the coaches and media poll released Wed. July 25, at the inaugural CAA Media Day held at the ESPN Zone in downtown Baltimore. The Wildcats were ranked second behind University of Massachusetts, the team that won the conference title in 2006 and went on to play in the FCS championship contest vs. national champion Appalachian State.  UMass received a conference-best 15 first-place votes as the favorite to win the CAA outright, followed in the North by UNH (8 first-place votes), Maine, Northeastern, Hofstra and Rhode Island. In the South Division, James Madison is the favorite with 11 first-place votes, followed closely by Delaware (10), Towson (1), Richmond, Villanova and William & Mary. The biggest UNH news of the day was the naming of UNH senior quarterback Ricky Santos (Bellingham, Mass.) as the CAA Preseason Offensive Player of the Year. Santos, last year’s Walter Payton Award winner and conference Player of the Year, has passed for over 10,000 yards at UNH and needs just one more TD to break the all-time conference record of 99 career TD passes and reach the 100 mark. He has also completed 67 percent of his passes and will be vying for several NCAA passing records this season. Also honored by the CAA coaches and media was senior free safety Jeff Pammer (Northampton, Pa.), who finished as UNH’s second-leading tackler in 2006. He is presently poised to break into UNH’s all-time top 10 list for career tackles with 229 for the Wildcats heading into his senior campaign. Santos and Pammer are members of the 2007 preseason CAA first-team squad. There was no second or third team selected.

HIGH-SCORING AIR GAME AND YOUNG, OPPORTUNISTIC DEFENSE HIGHLIGHT THIS YEAR'S BLUE/WHITE FALL SCRIMMAGE (Aug 30):  UNH played its annual fall Blue/White scrimmage on Thursday afternoon and the team excelled in many areas, including an explosive aerial game, young defenders making big plays, and the punting game. The UNH offense scored seven touchdowns on the day, all through the air. Leading the way in the first half was senior Walter Payton Award winner/candidate Ricky Santos (Bellingham, Mass.), who completed 15 of 22 passes for 252 yds. and three TDs of 24, 14 and 8 yds. in limited action. Senior wide receiver Keith LeVan (Waltham, Mass.) was a key target, making six catches for 114 yds. and two 2 TDs  of 24 and 14 yds.  The coaching staff also got a good look at other young receivers in the contest, including strong efforts by freshman J.T. Wright (Agoura Hills, Calif.) who made six catches for 60 yds. Also playing well for the ‘Cats was redshirt freshman receiver Chris Chandler (Wakefield, Mass.) with three catches for 69 yds and an 8 yd. touchdown. Freshman wide receiver Terrence Fox (Piscataway, N.J.) also opened some eyes with his  three catches for 42 yards, including a 9 yd. TD catch. The running back corps was depleted due to injuries, but standing out were junior Kaysonne Anderson (Belmar, N.J.) with 11 carries for 68 yards and junior Robert Simpson (Brockton, Mass.) was strong for UNH with five rushes for 32 yds.  Looking at the punting game for UNH, the highlight was the play of junior Tom Bishop (Newfield, N.Y.) as he booted four punts over 40 yds, including two that went for 47 yds. UNH kickers also made all attempted PATS.  On the defensive side of the football, UNH recorded three interceptions by relatively young players. Redshirt freshmen Jamie Cosgrove (Sharon, Mass.), Dino Vasso (Crum Lynne, Pa.) and Bryan Mayhew (Plymouth, N.H.) all picked off passes for the ‘Cats.  The Wildcat defense also kept the quarterbacks scrambling, posting four sacks, including two by freshman defensive lineman John Murray (Aston, Pa.) for losses of 1 yd. and 7 yds. Junior linebacker Matt Parent (Long Beach, Calif.) and senior linebacker Husain Karim (Burlington, Vt.) each had sacks as well. Leading the team in tackles for the day were redshirt freshman defensive lineman Steve Young (Rochester, N.H.) and redshirt freshman Devon Jackson (Williamstown, N.J.) each had six tackles on the afternoon.

2006 WALTER PAYTON AWARD WINNER RICKY SANTOS NAMED TO "PAYTON WATCH"; LOOKS TO BECOME FIRST PLAYER EVER TO WIN THE HONOR TWICE: Ricky Santos, the 2006 Walter Payton Award winner, heads up a stellar class of 16 candidates making up the first Payton Award watch list of the 2007 season. Santos is seeking to become the first player to repeat as a Payton winner. The only person to ever repeat, or win one of the major Football Championship Subdivision awards twice, is ex- Appalachian State linebacker Dexter Coakley. Coakley, who went on to a 10-year NFL career with the Dallas Cowboys and St. Louis Rams and was a three-time Pro Bowler, won the first two Buck Buchanan Awards as the top defensive player in 1995-96. The Payton Award has been given since 1987. The 2007 Payton Award will be presented in Chattanooga, Tenn. on Dec. 13, the night before the FCS national championship game. Joining Santos on the Payton watch list are three players who were finalists for the 2006 Payton Award, Furman fullback Jerome Felton, San Diego quarterback Josh Johnson and Appalachian State running back Kevin Richardson. Delaware running back Omar Cuff, Montana running back Lex Hilliard and Northern Iowa quarterback Eric Sanders are three other players who have been apart of the Payton watch in past seasons that have returned in 2007. Both Cuff and Hilliard suffered through injury-plagues years in 2006.

HERE'S WHAT IT TOOK FOR RICKY SANTOS WON THE WALTER PAYTON AWARD IN 2006: Ricky Santos threw for 2,681 yards and 23 touchdowns and ran for 385 yards and 12 scores in the regular season, and directed a New Hampshire offense that threw for 249.6 yards per game and ranked third nationally with 36.5 ppg. Santos tossed only five interceptions all season, and led the Wildcats to the playoffs for the third consecutive season. Santos excelled in the first round of the postseason as well, as he threw for 318 yards and five touchdown passes to lead New Hampshire past Hampton, 41-38. Santos got off to a fast start with five total touchdowns to lead New Hampshire to a 34-17 victory at Northwestern. He also notched five passing touchdowns in a win against Dartmouth, and exploded with five total touchdowns and 391 yards of total offense to lead the Wildcats to a 52-49 victory in a shootout against Delaware. He helped the Wildcats to a 5-0 start and the No. 1 ranking in the country for the first half of the season. Santos recorded 458 yards of total offense and five total touchdowns in a 36-35 loss in overtime at Northeastern, and continued to play well even while the Wildcats lost three out of four games. With his team’s playoff fate on the line, Santos once again notched five total touchdowns to lead the Wildcats past Rhode Island, 63-21, and scored a pair of rushing touchdowns to lift New Hampshire to a playoff spot with a 19-13 victory in overtime over Maine. Only a junior, Santos completed the regular season with 9,796 passing yards, 93 touchdown passes and only 24 interceptions in his career, and then added six more touchdown passes in the playoffs.

UNH FOOTBALL HAS THE LONGEST STREAK OF WEEKLY APPEARANCES IN THE TOP 25 AMONG ALL CAA TEAMS: The Wildcats lead the entire Atlantic 10 in the number of consecutive appearances in the Sports Network Top 25 with 43, including five straight weekly appearances at No. 1 in 2006. UNH has been in the top 25 dating all the way back to Sept. 6, 2004.

1. New Hampshire (43)
2. Massachusetts (30)

KEITH LeVAN PICKED AS "MR. ANONYMOUS" BY THE   COLLEGE SPORTING NEWS AS HE PREPARES TO TRY AND FILL THE BIG SHOES VACATED BY DAVID BALL: Senior wide receiver Keith LeVan is a good football player. Last season he made 70 catches for 672 yds and caught five for touchdowns. He can also run the football. Perhaps no receiver in I-AA football was overshadowed more than LeVan, who played behind Jerry Rice TD record-breaker David Ball. That is why the College Sports Network listed LeVan as a "Mr. Anonymous", or one of the players most likely to rise from anonymity to a higher state of recognition. He is expected to be Ricky Santos' primary passing targets this season and has been throughout fall camp. LeVan was a third-team all-conference pick in 2006.

RB CHAD KACKERT WINS TWO STRAIGHT DOWN THE STRETCH FOR 'CATS IN 2006 WITH GAME-WINNING TOUCHDOWNS: Freshman running back Chad Kackert (Simi Valley, Calif.) as a big-play running back for the 'Cats at the end of the 2006 season, which bodes well for UNH in 2007. No plays were bigger than the two game-winning touchdowns he had at Maine and at Hampton. Against Hampton, Kackert caught a 25-yard TD pass from junior quarterback Ricky Santos (Bellingham,  Mass.) with just 4:40 to play and the Wildcats down by a 35-34 score to capture the NCAA first-round victory.  In the Maine game, Kackert's only run was for a 6 yard touchdown in the first session of overtime to earn the Wildcats the 19-13 win.

FREE SAFETY JEFF PAMMER POISED TO MOVE INTO UNH'S ALL-TIME CAREER TACKLES LISTING: Senior free safety Jeff Pammer (Northampton, Pa.) has been named an All-American, all-conference and earned numerous other awards and honors as one of the Wildcats' top defensive players over the past four seasons. Consistently among the team's tackle leaders, he heads into this season with 229 career tackles in three seasons at UNH (112-117-229), bringing him within striking distace of UNH all-time top 10 career tackles listing.  Here's a look at UNH top 10 all-time career tacklers.

Most Tackles?Career (since 1981)
1.    Steve Doig (1978-81)    434
2.     Aaron Thomas (2000-04)    343
3.    Chris McGrath (1987-91)    322
4.     Romande Carter (1993-96)    297
5.    Brett Bashaw (1996-2000)    297
6.    Neal Zonfrelli (1982-85)    286
7.    Scott Curtis (1984-87)    278
8.    Czar Wiley (1999-2002)    273
9.    Brian O?Neill (1982-85)    262
10.    Jim Concannon (1991-94)    248

UNH'S OFFENSIVE LINE NOT ONLY LARGE IN STATURE BUT MORE IMPORTANTLY EXPERIENCE:  The UNH offensive liine features five players returning with starting experience and four returning starters from the last year's playoff bid. Leading the group is senior center Nick Couturier (6-2, 290) who enters his third season as a starter. Starting at left guard is junior Chris McClurg (6-3, 300); right guard is junior Eric Cumba (6-2, 315); and making a strong bid for post-season honors this year should be junior left tackle Josh Droesh (6-6, 280). Throw in two others with starting experience in junior Glenn Waldron (6-5, 285) and junio Andrew Elwell (6-3, 280) at right tackle and UNH has one of the most veteran offensive lines in the conference.

UNH'S ROAD WARRIOR MENTALITY: One of the trademark traits of a successful team is to be able to win on the road and the Wildcats have done just that over the last three seasons, posting an 18-4 mark in hostile stadiums. Last year the Wildcats won six of eight games played out of a suitcase.  UNH opened the 2006 season with a win at Northwestern (34-17), at Dartmouth (56-14) and at Delaware (52-49). UNH wrapped up the season with two straight wins on the road at Rhode Island (63-21) and at Maine in overtime (19-13). The Wildcats won their first NCAA game of 2006 out of a suitcase at Hampton, 41-38.  The only regular-season road loss of the season was in overtime at Northeastern on Oct. 21 (36-35).

RICKY SANTOS RETURNS AS CO-ATLANTIC 10 PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Ricky Santos (Bellingham, Mass.) was named the Atlantic 10 Offensive Player of the Year and was named first-team All-Atlantic 10. Here is a look at UNH's returning Atlantic 10 Conference honorees.

First-team Offense and Co-Atlantic 10 Player of the Year
QB    Ricky Santos

Third-Team Offense
WR    Keith LeVan

Third-Team Defense
FS    Jeff Pammer
DB    John Clements
LB    Husain Karim
   
UNH IN THE ZONE IN THE RED ZONE:  The UNH offense was outstanding last season when it came to scoring from inside the red zone. UNH was 52-63 in 13 games played. Here's a look at what the UNH offense did from inside the red zone game-by game in 2006.
1. at Northwestern (5-5)
2. Stony Brook (7-7)
3. at Dartmouth (5-5)
4. at Delaware (4-4)
5. Richmond (3-4)
6. James Madison (4-4)
7. at Northeastern (2-6)
8. Hofstra (1-2) (in heavy rain and wind)
9. Massachusetts (3-4)
10. at Rhode Island (9-10)
11. at Maine (3-4)
12. at Hampton (5-6)
13 at Massachusetts (1-2)

A GAME-BY-GAME LOOK AT THE UNH OFFENSE (2006): The UNH offense was explosive once again in 2006. The Wildcats have topped the 500 yard mark four times in 2006 and topped  400 yards six times.

1. at Northwestern    329 yds    5 TDs
2. Stony Brook    598 yds    9 TDs
3. at Dartmouth     564 yds    8 TDs
4 at Delaware    516 yds    7 TDs
5. Richmond    272 yds    3 TDs
6. James Madison    361 yds    3 TDs
7. at Northeastern    562 yds    5 TDs
8. Hofstra (high winds, rain)    140 yds    1 TD
9. Massachusetts    441 yds    2 TDs
10. at Rhode Island    476 yds    9TDs
11. at Maine    250 yds    3 TDs
12 at Hampton    411 yds    6 TDs
13 at Massachusetts    346 yds    2 TDs
   
UNH RETURNS ITS TOP FOUR TACKLE LEADERS FROM 2006: The UNH defense will get a big boost this season due to the fact that its four top tacklers from 2006 return for action. Three of them, Karim, Pammer and Clements were named third-team all-conference. Here's a look at what each of them did in 13 games played in terms of total tackles:

53 Husain Karim      50-58-108
31 Jeff Pammer     49-50-99
34 Matt Parent    41-49-90
7 John Clements    56-31-87


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