DURHAM, N.H.— The No. 6-ranked University of New Hampshire football team put together a 24-0 scoring run in the second half to keep the Granite Bowl Trophy at home after posting a decisive 44-14 victory over Dartmouth in front of a home crowd of 8,271 at Cowell Stadium Saturday afternoon. The Wildcats, now 3-0 overall in 2009, were led by sophomore backup quarterback Kevin Decker (Armonk, N.Y.) who threw for a touchdown and ran for another to put the game away for UNH in the second half.

For the Big Green, now 0-2 overall this season, sophomore running back Nick Schweiger recorded the first 100 yard rushing game for Dartmouth since October of 2007. He finished the day with 26 carries for 119 yards.

The victory gave the Wildcats the lead in the all-time series, which now stands at 18-17-2.

The game was still in question into the third quarter as the Wildcats led 20-14, but then UNH junior starting quarterback R.J. Toman (Mission Viejo, Calif.) left the game with a toe injury. The Big Green was driving quickly down field, but gave up a fumble that was recovered by senior defensive back Ryan Hinds (Toronto, Ont.), which gave UNH the ball on its own 12 yard line. UNH took advantage of the turnover with a long, sustained 13-play, 88 yard drive that was capped by a beautiful 15-yard touchdown pass by Decker (Armonk, N.Y.) to senior wide receiver J.T. Wright (Agoura Hills, Calif.). Decker completed a two-point conversion pass to junior running back Sean Jellison (Amherst, N.H.) and UNH held a 28-14 lead with 3:12 left in the third quarter.

UNH took control of the game for good at 11:11 of the fourth quarter after Decker ran to the sideline, tip-toed along it, and then dove into the end zone on a 33-yard touchdown scamper to give the Wildcats a commanding 34-14 advantage.

Junior defensive back Dino Vasso (Crum Lynn, Pa.) added an exclamation point to the Wildcat run with 7:36 left to play when he grabbed his second interception of the game and ran it back 34 yards for a touchdown to give the Wildcats the 41-14 lead with just 7:36 remaining in the contest.

UNH senior kicker Tom Manning (Rome, N.Y.) finished the scoring with a 24 yard field goal with 1:03 to play in the game as he completed the 24-0 run by the ‘Cats.

The contest began wildly as UNH started the scoring at 12:17 after a long and effective opening drive for the ‘Cats that went eight plays for 70 yards and was capped off by a 4 yard TD run by senior running back Chad Kackert (Simi Valley, Calif.), who was playing in his first game after suffering a pulled hamstring during fall preseason practice.  UNH led 7-0 after the PAT.

The Big Green responded quickly, however, taking advantage of a 58 yard kickoff return by Shawn Abuhoff. Quarterback Alex Jenny completed a 10 yard TD pass to wide receiver Michael Reilly and the game was tied (7-7) with 10:14 remaining in the first stanza.

UNH answered. The Wildcats took a 14-7 lead at 7:16 of the first quarter following another TD run, this time for 15 yards. by Kackert, his second of the game and season as he scampered in for the score.

The Wildcat defense came up with a forced fumble by sophomore safety Ryan McGuinness (Howell, N.J.), which was recovered by Hinds. The offense took over once again, and Toman completed a beautiful pass to sophomore wide receiver Mickey Mangieri (Bedford, N.Y.) for 65 yards that could have been a touchdown had it not been stopped by a Big Green touchdown saving tackle. UNH still managed to score on the drive with a 7 yard touchdown run by Toman with 2:41 remaining in the first quarter and UNH was up by a 20-7 margin after a blocked PAT.

The Big Green took advantage of a key UNH penalty and made the Wildcats pay when Jenny completed a 12 yard TD pass to wide receiver Niles Murphy that made the game close again, as UNH’s lead was narrowed to 20-14.

The Big Green was driving again late in the first half, but an outstanding interception by Vasso in the UNH end zone in the closing seconds allowed UNH to hold the lead heading into the lockerroom at the half.

Looking at the statistics for the day, Kackert led UNH in rushing with 12 carries for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Decker completed 9 of 14 passes for 76 yards and a touchdown and Toman completed 9 of 13 passes for 154 yards. UNH had 10 different players rush the football and 11 players made catches. Senior tight end Scott Sicko (Stillwater, N.Y.) led all UNH receivers with five catches for 53 yards. UNH was led defensively by Vasso, who collected two interceptions and seven tackles and by linebackers Devon Jackson and Sean Ware, who each had a team-high eight tackles.

Jenny had a solid day at quarterback for Dartmouth completing 20 of 29 passes for 166 yards and two touchdowns and wide receiver Scott Tanner led the Big Green with six catches for 48 yards.

UNH outgained the visitors on the afternoon (528 yards to 314 yards) and the UNH defense recorded five turnovers in the contest.

The Wildcats will return to action on Sat., Oct. 3 when they travel to play at Towson. Game time is at 3:30 p.m. and the contest can be seen live on Comcast SportsNet.

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