No. 6/6 New Hampshire (4-1, 2-0) at No. 16/15 William & Mary (3-3, 1-2)
Oct. 15, 2011 • 12:00 p.m. • Zable Stadium • Williamsburg, Va.
TV: Comcast SportsNet New England • Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic
Bob Picozzi (play-by-play), Scott Brunner (analyst), Brian Jackson (sidelines)
Radio: Wildcat Sports Radio Network
Jim Jeannotte (play-by-play), Bob Lipman (analyst)
UNH-W&M ALL-TIME SERIES (TRIBE LEADS, 12-2): The Tribe is the lone CAA team that the Wildcats have not beaten in the Sean McDonnell era (0-8). Seven of those eight games have been decided by 10 points or less. The one exception was a 42-10 setback in Williamsburg in 2005, which was the only regular-season loss for the Wildcats in a year they entered the NCAA Tournament as the No. 1 team in the nation. The College is the only team to defeat UNH at Cowell Stadium since the start of the 2008 season, and it has turned the trick twice. The Tribe turned back the Wildcats 38-34 to spoil Homecoming on Oct. 11, 2008, and W&M snapped New Hampshire's school-record 12-game home winning streak last Nov. 6, 13-3.
SCOUTING THE TRIBE: William & Mary head coach Jimmye Laycock owns a career record of 211-148-2 in his 32nd year at the school. He ranks sixth nationally among all FCS coaches in wins, and his 89 all-time CAA victories are third-most in league history. The only active D-I head coaches with longer tenures at their respective schools are Penn State's Joe Paterno (46th year) and Albany's Bob Ford (39th year). Under Laycock's guidance, W&M has won four conference titles, advanced to the NCAA postseason nine times and posted 21 winning seasons. The Tribe has advanced to the D-I national semifinals twice in the last seven years. William & Mary had its 11-game home winning streak snapped by James Madison, 20-14, in its last matchup at Zable Stadium. The Tribe is 7-1 all-time vs the 'Cats in Williamsburg.
William & Mary was chosen as the preseason favorite in the CAA according to a vote of the conference's head coaches and media relations personnel. The Tribe, which won the '10 CAA Championship, earned 12 of the 22 first-place votes. UNH received two first-place votes and was tabbed to finish fourth in the league. The Wildcats are currently tied for first place in the league standings with Maine and Towson, which were preseason No. 9 and 11, respectively.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: William & Mary senior TB/KR Jonathan Grimes was voted the Preseason CAA Offensive Player of the Year by league coaches and media personnel. A former league Rookie of the Year (2008) and Special Teams Player of the Year (2010), Grimes is tied with former UNH quarterback Ricky Santos for the most all-conference honors in CAA history with eight. Already the College's all-time leader in all-purpose yardage, Grimes needs only 146 more rushing yards to become the school's all-time leader in that category. Currently, Grimes is No. 2 in the league in all-purpose yards/game (160.8), trailing only UNH's Dontra Peters, and he's fifth in the conference in rushing yards/game (81.5).
OLB Jabrel Mines leads the Tribe with 60 tackles, including 3.5 sacks and an interception. Mines is tied for fifth in the CAA in tackles/game (10.0) and sacks/game (0.58). He headlines the league's top pass defense (155.7 yards/game) and third-best scoring defense (19.0 points/game).
NOTES FROM LAST UNH WIN OVER W&M: The Wildcats' last victory over the Tribe was by a score of 31-19 in Williamsburg on Oct. 24, 1998. UNH RB Jerry Azumah, who went on to an NFL career as a defensive back for the Chicago Bears, carried the ball 33 times for 235 yards and a TD, becoming the all-time career rushing leader in I-AA (now FCS) football. He added an 82-yard kickoff return for a TD. QB Tim Cramsey, now the 'Cats Offensive Coordinator, went 7 of 15 for 132 yards and a 90-yard TD pass to Jermaine Washington.
•WR R.J. Harris needs 37 receiving yards for 500 this season.
•WR Mickey Mangieri needs 90 receiving yards for 500 in his career.
•WR Joey Orlando needs 8 receptions for 100 in his career.
•RB/KR Dontra Peters needs 256 more kick-return yards for 1,000 in his career and 179 more all-purpose yards to reach 1,000 for the season.
DECKER ADDED TO WALTER PAYTON AWARD WATCH LIST: UNH senior quarterback Kevin Decker was added to the 2011 Walter Payton Award Watch List for the most outstanding player in the FCS on Oct. 4. Decker, a co-captain, leads the nation in points responsible for/game (24.0) and is No. 2 in the country in total offense (336.2 yards/game) and pass efficiency (172.64). The 6-foot-2, 205-pound QB leads the CAA in those departments, plus passing yards/game (295.6/8th in FCS) and completions/game (22.4/13th in FCS) while ranking second in scoring among non-kickers (8.4 points per game/T-14 in FCS).
Through five games, the first-year starter has completed 112 of 157 passes (71.3 percent) for 1,478 yards and 13 touchdowns; he is UNH's second-leading rusher with 54 carries for 203 yards, averaging 3.9 yards/carry, and he's tallied six of the Wildcats' eight total rushing scores. For good measure, he's also 3-for-3 in rushing for two-point conversions.
Over the last two weeks Decker has completed 46 of 63 throws (73.0%) for 747 yards, 7 touchdowns and no interceptions, matching his career best in completions (23) in both games and raising his personal-best passing total from 352 yards in the win over Holy Cross to 395 yards in last Saturday's triumph over Villanova. He has rushed 20 times for 82 yards and two TDs and called his own number for a pair of two-point conversions.
A national panel of sports information and media relations directors, broadcasters, writers and other dignitaries will vote on the 25th Walter Payton Award after the regular season. The honor will be presented at the FCS national awards banquet Friday night, Jan. 6, in Frisco, Texas.
Running back Jerry Azumah (1998) and quarterback Ricky Santos (2006) are the two previous Wildcats to garner the Payton Award.
EVANS LEADS NATION IN TACKLES: Junior preseason All-America MLB Matt Evans is atop the FCS rankings in tackles/game (14.2), solo tackles/game (8.8) and his 71 total tackles through five games are good for fourth in the nation, despite UNH having played one fewer game than most teams due to the open week Sept. 17. Facing William & Mary last season, Evans turned in a dominant performance by amassing a then-career-best 20 tackles.
Evans has posted double-digit tackles in four of his five games this year and in 15 of his last 18 games. He set a career benchmark with a 24-tackle performance in the victory at 11th-ranked Lehigh on Sept. 10, and then registered 14 more tackles and returned his second career interception for a TD, racing back 31 yards for a score, in the Wildcats' 45-43 upset of No. 5 Richmond on Sept. 24. For his efforts, Evans was feted with honorable mention as the CFPA National Linebacker Performer of the Week.
WR CENTURY CLUB: UNH's potent receiving attack has included at least one 100-yard receiver in each of the last four games, six overall 100-yard receiving games and the Wildcats have had multiple WRs hit the century mark in the same game twice this season. Joey Orlando set a career high with 166 receiving yards while R.J. Harris chipped in with 107 yards in the win at Lehigh on Sept. 10. It was Harris's turn to claim then-career-high honors with his 120-yard performance at Richmond on Sept. 24. In the home opener Oct. 1, two other receivers set personal benchmarks by eclipsing the 100-yard receiving mark: Justin Mello (107) and Mickey Mangieri (102). Harris then recorded his third 100-yard game of the year with a career-high and team season-best 190 receiving yards on seven catches in the Oct. 8 win over Villanova.
By comparison, the 2010 Wildcats only had three WRs record 100-yard receiving games the entire season: Terrance Fox (twice) and Chris Jeannot.
HARRIS PROGRAMED TO RECEIVE: R-Fr. WR R.J. Harris is off to a record-setting pace. The rookie receiver is ranked fourth in the FCS and No. 1 in the CAA with 115.8 receiving yards/game, and he is eighth in the FCS and second in the CAA with 7.8 receptions/game. Harris has registered three 100-yard receiving games in four games played, becoming the first Wildcat receiver with three 100-yard games in a single season since Mike Boyle in 2008. Harris leads UNH with four TD catches, including a 66-yarder (vs Villanova) and a 47-yarder (at Richmond), yards/catch (14.9) and total receptions (31).
At Richmond on Sept. 24, Harris posted 12 receptions for 120 yards and 2 TDs, including a 47-yard hookup with Kevin Decker, to win the CAA Rookie of the Week award and The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS Rookie of the Week honor.
SACK TRICK: After being held to just one sack through the team's first four games, senior DE Brian McNally broke out in the Wildcats' 47-17 win over Villanova with a career-high 3.5 sacks, including sacks on back-to-back plays. Now the co-captain, who led the CAA with a school-record 13.5 sacks in 2010, finds himself atop the league rankings with 4.5 sacks in 2011.
TRULY FRESH FACES: LB Shane McNeely became the first true freshman to see game action in 2011 when he played on special teams in the home opener versus Holy Cross on Oct. 1. McNeely was joined in the lineup by another true freshman, safety Nick Cefalo, in the Oct. 8 win over Villanova at Cowell Stadium. The only true freshman to see any game action in 2010 was PK Mike MacArthur.
ALL-PURPOSE PETERS: Dontra Peters continues to bedazzle the opposition in a variety of ways: as a kick returner, running back and receiver. His 164.2 all-purpose yards/game lead the CAA, and he ranks fourth in kick-return yardage (25.1/return). Peters notched the third 100-yard rushing game of his career and first of the season Oct. 1 when he collected 104 yards on 18 carries in the victory over Holy Cross. Overall, Peters has 477 kick-return yards, a team-leading 262 rushing yards and his 12 catches rank third on the team.
MACARTHUR AMONG TOP PUNTERS IN FCS: Mike MacArthur continues to impress in his first season as the Wildcats' punter. The North Hampton, N.H. native launched a career-high 58-yard punt late in the Wildcats' 45-43 win at No. 5 Richmond on Sept. 24, he's had two punts for 57 yards apiece, seven punts of 50-plus yards and three kicks inside the opponent's 20. Through five games, his 43.8 yards/punt average is ranked 2nd in the CAA and 8th in all of FCS football. MacArthur was twice recognized with the College Football Performance Award (CFPA) FCS Honorable Mention as Punter Performer of the Week following the Toledo game (Sept. 1) and the Lehigh contest (Sept. 10).
Kicking-wise, he is a perfect 7-for-7 in field-goal attempts, leading the CAA with 1.40 FG/game. He booted three field goals, a career high, in the win over Villanova on Oct. 8.
LAST TIME OUT: UNH-47, VILLANOVA-17, OCT. 8:
Kevin Decker passed for a career-high 395 yards, threw three touchdown passes and rushed for another to lead the sixth-ranked University of New Hampshire football team to a 47-17 victory over Villanova before a crowd of 5,760 on Saturday afternoon at Cowell Stadium.
UNH earned its fourth consecutive win to up its record to 4-1, 1-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Villanova dropped to 1-5 overall, 0-3 in the CAA.
Decker went 23 of 32, matching a career high for completions by spreading the ball to nine different receivers. The senior signal caller recorded TD passes to R.J. Harris, Justin Mello and Jimmy Giansante, helping UNH amass a season-best 401 passing yards and 557 total yards.
Harris notched his third 100-yard receiving day of the season, accumulating a career-high 190 yards, just 23 shy of the CAA freshman record, on a team-leading seven receptions. His team-best fourth scoring catch came on the longest pass play of the season, a 66-yard heave from Decker on a post pattern with 3:27 left in the first quarter to help the home Wildcats build a 15-0 lead.
Mello made his one catch of the day count, corralling a 35-yard touchdown reception with 6:11 left in the second quarter to push UNH's lead to 24-3.
Giansante (three catches-58 yards, TD) snared a 16-yard scoring strike early in the fourth quarter, increasing the Wildcats' lead to 44-10 with 13:42 remaining in the contest.
Decker (six rushes-46 yards, TD) got the scoring started by rushing for a three-yard touchdown, his sixth, just 2:45 into the opening stanza, putting the finishing touches on an eight-play, 80-yard drive. He then kept it himself for the successful two-point conversion and an 8-0 UNH lead.
Brian McNally spearheaded New Hampshire's best defensive showing of the season, racking up a career-high 3.5 sacks as the 'Cats held 'Nova to 277 yards of offense and forced three turnovers. Chris Houston made six tackles, forced a fumble and notched his first career interception.
Rod Walker also picked off the first pass of his career, returning the INT 42 yards to the Villanova 6. That set the stage for Dontra Peters (nine rushes-30 yards, TD), who scampered in for a six-yard score with 12:31 left in the third period, staking UNH to a commanding 34-10 following the PAT.
New Hampshire forced its other turnover on the first play of the fourth quarter when Jared Smith forced a fumble that was recovered by James Jenkins (three tackles).
Mike MacArthur improved to 7-for-7 in field-goal attempts this season by connecting on all three of his attempts: a 24-yarder in the second quarter, giving UNH an 18-0 lead; a 27-yard kick on the last play of the first half for a 27-10 lead and a 23-yarder with 5:14 left in the third quarter for a 37-10 advantage. But the sophomore kicker did miss the first extra point of his career following Giansante's second-period TD catch, snapping a streak of 43 in a row successfully converted.
Villanova quarterback Chris Polony, who replaced ineffective starter Chris Cullicerto (2-for-7, seven yards), went 15 of 19 for 120 yards with two interceptions and a nine-yard TD pass to Dorian Wells (five catches-36 yards, TD). Kevin Monangai rushed 18 times for 57 yards and a touchdown.