DURHAM, N.H.— The No. 8 –ranked University of New Hampshire football team, led by senior running back Chad Kackert (Simi Valley, Calif.) and his career-high 176 rushing yards and two touchdowns, defeated Colonial Athletic Association North Division rival Northeastern University on Saturday afternoon, 48-21 at Cowell Stadium.

The 176 rushing yards on 17 carries was the most by Kackert since he ran 11 times for 164 yards at Rhode Island in 2008.

The UNH offense recorded a season-best 461 yards of total offense for its best mark of the 2009 season on the way to victory. The Wildcats improve to 7-1 overall and 4-1 in the CAA, while the Huskies fall to 1-7 overall and 1-7 in the conference.

UNH also remains in first place in the CAA North with its 4-1 conference mark.

After the UNH defense stopped NU on a fourth down pass breakup by junior linebacker Hugo Souza (Marshfield, Mass.) near midfield, the Wildcats proceeded to string together several long running plays, including a key 15 yard touchdown run by Kackert to give the Wildcats the 7-0 advantage with 7:07 to play in the first quarter. The drive lasted 7 plays and covered 59 yards.

However, the Huskies responded with a drive of their own that was 10 plays for 73 yards and killed 5:04 off the clock, capped off with a 2 yard pass from quarterback Alex Dulski to wide receiver Adhir Ravipati to tie the contest at 7-7 with 1:57 remaining in the first quarter.

Following an amazing one-handed grab on the sideline by senior tight end Scott Sicko (Stillwater, N.Y.), Kackert broke several tackles and rambled 22 yards for his second touchdown of the day as UNH grabbed a 14-7 advantage with 12:16 to play in the second quarter. The drive went for five plays and 55 yards.

The Wildcats defense held again with their first three-and-out of the game and after the NU punt, on the first play of the drive, junior running back Sean Jellison (Amherst, N.H) broke a huge 64 yard touchdown run to give the Wildcats a 21-7 lead with 10:42 remaining in the second stanza.

After a UNH punt fake that kept the drive alive, the Wildcats took advantage of its second chance with a 27 yard touchdown strike by junior quarterback R.J. Toman (Mission Viejo, Calif.) to Sicko that gave the Wildcats a 28-7 advantage with 6:52 to play in the second quarter after the PAT by Manning and that was the score at the intermission.

In the first half, the Wildcats outgained the Huskies by an impressive 280-157 margin in total yardage and was led in rushing by Kackert with 9 carries for 86 yards. Sicko also had a huge half for the ‘Cats with seven catches for 96 yards.

Souza picked off a Matt Carroll pass and returned it 17 yards as the QB was harassed by several Wildcat defenders. Eleven plays and 35 yards later, Manning booted a 30 yard field goal and the Wildcat lead expanded to 31-7 with 6:46 to play in the third quarter.

Manning kicked another field goal, this time a 23-yarder, to give the Wildcats a 34-7 lead with 1:51 to play in the third quarter. The field goal was set up by a 73 yard run by Kackert.

Northeastern scored with 9:03 to play in the fourth quarter on a 28 yard TD pass by Matt Carroll to Jordan cut the UNH lead to 34-14, but the Wildcats answered quickly with a 44 yard TD pass by sophomore quarterback Kevin Decker (Armonk, N.Y.) to sophomore wide receiver Mickey Mangieri (Bedford, N.Y.) to give UNH the 41-14 lead.

The Huskies scored again on a 9 yard run by Griffin with 4:41 to play in the game, cutting the UNH lead to 41-21.The Wildcats recovered an NU onsides kick and started a drive deep in NU territory that resulted in a 7 yard touchdown run by redshirt freshman Shawn Sweeney (Plymouth, N.H.) with 3:22 left in the game and the Wildcats led 48-21 following the made PAT.

Looking some key individual performances, Toman completed 11 of 22 passes for 131 yards and one passing touchdown. Sicko was the top receiver of the game with his seven catches for 96 yards and 1 touchdown and Kackert finished with 176 rushing yards. On the defensive side of the football for UNH, junior linebacker Devon Jackson (Williamstown, N.J.) and sophomore linebacker James Jenkins (Paterson, N.J.) each led the ‘Cats with seven tackles apiece. The UNH defense held Northeastern to just 322 yards of total offense and only 149 yards on the ground.

The Wildcats will return to action at home next weekend when the Wildcats entertain Rhode Island at Cowell Stadium. Game time is 12 p.m. The game can be seen live on Comcast Sportsnet New England.

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