October 19, 2011

GAME DAY: No. 13 Football Meets No. 22 UMass in Colonial Clash Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on CSN-NE

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No. 13/12 New Hampshire (4-2, 2-1 CAA) vs No. 22/NR Massachusetts (4-2, 0-0 CAA)

     Oct. 22, 2011 • 3:30 p.m. • Gillette Stadium • Foxboro, Mass.
TV:
Comcast SportsNet New England • Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic
Gary Tanguay (play-by-play) • Andy Gresh (analyst) • Greg Dickerson (sidelines)
Radio: Wildcat Sports Radio Network
Jim Jeannotte (play-by-play) •  Bob Lipman (analyst)

Quick Hitters
Kevin Decker's career-high 422 passing yards registered at William & Mary last week represented the first 400-yard passing game by a UNH quarterback since then-senior Ricky Santos threw for 419 yards in a 49-36 defeat of Rhode Island at Cowell Stadium on Oct. 27, 2007.

•The Colonial Clash will be the 74th meeting between the long-time New England rivals in a series that dates back to 1897 and the final time the Wildcats and Minutemen will square off as conference rivals. UMass leads the all-time series, 43-27-3. Sean McDonnell is 6-7 in his career against UMass, including last year's 39-13 triumph in the first college football game ever played at Gillette Stadium.



•The inaugural Colonial Clash saw a CAA-record crowd of 32,848 attend the Wildcats' win over the Minutemen on Oct. 23, 2010. The CSN-NE telecast pulled in a 0.88 rating, making the Clash the highest-rated TV event in league history.

•UNH and UMass are two of nine ranked CAA schools, an all-time FCS record for a single week. Two of the Wildcats' four victories have come against ranked opponents, with three more Top-25 foes still remaining on the schedule in the season's final four weeks.

•The Most Outstanding Player of the UNH/UMass game will be awarded the Bill Knight Trophy, named for the long-time Sports Information Director at UNH who passed away in November 1985 following a long bout with cancer. LB Matt Evans was the 2010 recipient after amassing a game-high 13 tackles, forcing a fumble and securing his first career interception.

106  WEEKS AND COUNTING: UNH is ranked in the Top 25 for a CAA-best 106th straight week, the nation's second-longest streak that dates back to Sept. 13, 2004.  William & Mary, at a distant 44 weeks, has the second-longest ranked streak in the CAA. Montana's run of 186 consecutive weeks leads the country:

CAA WITH RECORD 9 RANKED TEAMS: UNH and UMass are two of an all-time record nine ranked CAA teams in The Sports Network/Fathead.com Top 25 this week. No other league in FCS history has ever had as many as eight ranked teams simultaneously, something the CAA accomplished the previous two weeks.

UNH-UMASS ALL-TIME SERIES (MINUTEMEN LEAD 43-27-3): The 2011 Colonial Clash marks the final scheduled meeting as league foes between longtime rivals UNH and UMass.  With a win Saturday,  head coach Sean McDonnell would be the first Wildcats head coach since legendary William Cowell to post a .500-or-better career record against the Minutemen, who will move up a level to the FBS next season. The series dates back to 1897. 

TALE OF THE TAPE:
Totals (CAA Rank)    UNH                   UMASS
Total Offense         462.8 (1)             365.7 (9)    
Rush Offense         142.2 (6)             141.3 (7)    
Pass Offense          320.7 (1)             224.3 (6)      
Scoring Offense       35.2 (2)              28.8 (4)      
Total Defense         468.2 (11)            375.7 (9)    
Rush Defense        174.5 (10)             133.2 (4)      
Pass Defense        293.7 (11)              242.5 (9)    
Scoring Defense      35.8 (11)               28.7 (9)    
Possession Avg.      25:34 (11)              29:48 (7)    
Sacks Allowed/Yards Lost    16/99 (10)  13/91 (6)    
Sacks Made/Yards    13/79 (T-5)            11/73 (8)    
Penalties Against/Yards    36/340 (9)     46/444 (11)    
Punts/Net Avg.          20/43.0 (3)          33/37.3 (8)    
Turnover Differential       -5 (9)              even (T-6)    
3rd Down Conversion%   47.4 (2)          34.8 (11)
4th Down Conversion%   50.0 (T-4)       50.0 (T-4)    
Red Zone Offense%        88.9 (1)          87.5 (2)    

SCOUTING  THE MINUTEMEN: UMass is playing its final season of FCS football. The Minutemen announced April 20 their intention to join the Mid-American Conference (MAC) of the FBS. UMass was a charter member of the Yankee Conference (now the CAA) in 1946. UMass is ineligible for the D-I FCS Championship as well as the CAA Championship this season, and its conference record will be recognized as 0-0 all year. The Minutemen will play a full MAC schedule in 2012 and, by 2013, will be eligible for the MAC Championship and bowl participation. UMass will play its home football games at Gillette Stadium starting next season.  The Minutemen's only losses this year have come at the hands of Boston College, 45-17, on Sept. 24 and to No. 21 Old Dominion, 48-33, on Oct. 1.  Last week UMass scored 21 first-quarter points en route to a 21-10 upset victory at then-No. 9 Delaware. QB Kellen Pagel completed 20 of 39 passes for 245 yards and a TD.
 
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior RB Jonathan Hernandez leads the CAA with 110.5 rushing yards/game, and he is tied with Kevin Decker for third in the league in scoring (TDs), averaging 7.0 points a game with 7 rushing touchdowns. Senior KR Jesse Julmiste is the top kick returner in the league, averaging 30.5 yards per return with two touchdowns, including a 100-yarder.  Julmiste led all receivers with 90 yards on four receptions in last week's upset of then-No. 9 Delaware. Senior LB Tyler Holmes is ranked fourth in the CAA with 10.7 tackles/game, and he's notched double-digit tackles for four straight games. Junior DB Darren Thellen has snared a league-best four interceptions, returning one 85 yards for a touchdown. He has tallied two-INT games in back-to-back weeks.

Matt Evans | 2010 Bill Knight Trophy Winner

BILL KNIGHT TROPHY: The Most Outstanding Player in the University of New Hampshire-Massachusetts football game at the Colonial Clash will receive the  Bill Knight Trophy.  The award is named after Bill Knight, the long-time Sports Information Director at New Hampshire who passed away in November 1985 following a long bout with cancer. In addition to his duties at UNH, Knight was a past President of the New England Sports Information Directors Association, a member of the U.S. Olympic Committee at the 1984 Winter Games and a recipient of the Irving T. Marsh ECAC Service Bureau Award. He also served as the Information Officer of the Yankee Conference. Knight was inducted into the UNH 100 Club Hall of Fame on Oct. 2, 1987.
    UNH MLB Matt Evans was voted the Bill Knight Trophy winner at the inaugural Colonial Clash after recording a game-high 13 tackles, notching his first career interception and forcing a fumble in last season's matchup.
     Checking historical notes: UNH'S Stephan Lewis became the second player to capture the award three years in a row.  In his senior season (2002), Lewis ran for 186 yards and two touchdowns and also caught another TD pass.  In 2000,  Lewis brought the trophy back to Durham for the first time since Jerry Azumah won in 1997. In 1993, UMass fullback John Johnson rushed for 152 yards on 12 carries to break the amazing string of seven consecutive years of quarterbacks winning the award. 1994 was also an historic year for the award, as New Hampshire defensive end Mike Foley became the first defensive player to capture this honor. The pregame banner read the "Battle of the Backs," but two strong and talented defenses proved otherwise. Foley led the way with five tackles, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the end zone for a touchback as UNH prevailed 14-11. As a true freshman in 1995, Azumah took home the hardware. Then, in 1996, Azumah became the second player to win the award two consecutive times. UNH quarterback Matt Griffin also won the honor twice, in 1990 and 1991. Azumah did it one more time in 1997, becoming the first player ever to win the Bill Knight Trophy three consecutive times.  Here are the all-time winners:
    1986    Tim Bryant, QB, UMass
    1987    Bob Jean, QB, UNH
    1988    Dave Palazzi, QB, UMass
    1989    Gary Wilkos, QB, UMass
    1990    Matt Griffin, QB, UNH
    1991    Matt Griffin, QB, UNH
    1992    Jim Stayer, QB, UNH
    1993    John Johnson, FB, UMass
    1994    Mike Foley, DE, UNH
    1995    Jerry Azumah, TB, UNH
    1996    Jerry Azumah, TB, UNH
    1997    Jerry Azumah, TB, UNH
    1998    Marcel Shipp, TB, UMass
    1999    Adrian Zullo, WR, UMass
    2000    Stephan Lewis, TB, UNH
    2001    Stephan Lewis, TB, UNH
    2002    Stephan Lewis, TB, UNH
    2003    Jason Peebler, WR, UMass
    2004    Steve Baylark, TB, UMass
    2005    David Ball, WR, UNH
    2006    Jason Hatchell, DE, UMass
    2007    Matt Lawrence, TB, UMass
    2008    Matt Parent, LB, UNH
    2009    Jonathan Hernandez, TB, UMass
     2010    Matt Evans, LB, UNH

HONORARY CAPTAINS: The Wildcats will have three honorary captains on hand for the Colonial Clash:
•FB Dick Dewing, No. 33, who rushed for 893 yards to lead the last undefeated and untied team in school history, the 1950 Yankee Conference Champion Wildcats.
•QB Billy Pappas, No. 16, a co-captain and All-America signal caller for the 1954 Yankee Conference champion Wildcats and a UNH Hall of Famer.
•QB Bill Burnham, No. 36, a two-time Kodak Coaches First-Team All-America (1976, 77), graduated as UNH's all-time leading rusher (3,773 yards), a mark that held up for two decades. Burnham still is No. 2 on the all-time rushing list, and his uniform number is one of only four retired at UNH.


MILESTONE WATCH:
•QB Kevin Decker is 100 passing yards shy of 2,000 for the season.
•WR R.J. Harris needs 14 receiving yards for 500 this season.
•WR Joey Orlando needs 80 receiving yards for 500 this season.
•RB/KR Dontra Peters needs 216 more kick-return yards for 1,000 in his career and 123 more all-purpose yards to reach 1,000 for the season.

2010 COLONIAL CLASH: LARGEST CAA CROWD EVER: UNH made history by winning the inaugural Colonial Clash, 39-13, over UMass at Gillette Stadium on Oct. 23, 2010. The first college football game ever played at the home of the NFL's New England Patriots drew 32,848 fans, the largest crowd to ever witness a CAA conference game.  
    Not only was the Colonial Clash the highest-attended CAA league game in history, it was also the most viewed  Comcast SportsNet New England telecast in conference history. The UNH/UMass game pulled in a 0.88 rating. The two squads will meet again Oct. 22 at Gillette in their final meeting as conference rivals. Following the 74th rendition of this gridiron encounter, the Minutemen head to the Mid-American Conference of the FBS in 2012.

DECKER ADDED TO WALTER PAYTON AWARD WATCH LIST-OCT. 4: 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, is ranked second in the nation in points responsible for/game (21.0) and total offense (357.8 yards/game), is No. 3 nationally in passing yards/game (316.7) and No. 5 in pass efficiency (164.2). The 6-foot-2, 205-pound QB leads the CAA in those departments, plus completions/game (24.3/12th in FCS) while being tied for third in the league in scoring among non-kickers (8.4 points per game).
    Through six games, the first-year starter has completed 146 of 207 passes (70.5 percent) for 1,900 yards and 14 touchdowns; he is UNH's second-leading rusher with 69 carries for 247 yards, averaging 3.6 yards/carry, and he's tallied six of the Wildcats' nine total rushing scores. For good measure, he's also 3-for-3 in rushing for 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 (14.0), solo tackles/game (8.2) and his 84 total tackles through six games are good for fourth in the nation, despite UNH having played one fewer game than many teams due to the open week Sept. 17.  
    Evans has posted double-digit tackles in five of his six games this year and in 16 of his last 19 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.
    Facing UMass last season, Evans won the Bill Knight Trophy as the game's most outstanding player after recording his first career interception, forcing a fumble and tallying a game-high 13 tackles.

SAFETY IS BERANGEROUS: Sophomore FS Chris Beranger has proven to be more than just Robin to Matt Evans's Batman in 2011. While Evans leads the CAA (and the nation) in tackles, Beranger is second in the league (eighth in the FCS) with 11.5 tackles/game, and his 6.0 solo tackles/game are No. 4 in the CAA. The Winthrop, Mass., native has matched Evans by leading the team in tackles in three of the Wildcats' six games, highlighted by a career-high 17 stops in the win at Richmond and 16 tackles in the loss at William & Mary.

WR CENTURY CLUB:  UNH's potent receiving attack has included at least one 100-yard receiver in each of the last five games, eight overall 100-yard receiving games and the Wildcats have had multiple WRs hit the century mark in the same game three times this season.      
    By comparison, the 2010 Wildcats only had three receivers record 100-yard receiving games the entire season: Terrance Fox (twice) and Chris Jeannot. Here is a view of the season's century club members, game-by-game:

Date    Opponent               Receiver(s)    Stats
9/10    Lehigh                Joey Orlando    10-166 yds, 2 TD
                                        R.J. Harris    8-107 yds, TD
9/24    Richmond               R.J. Harris    12-120 yds, 2 TD
10/1    Holy Cross            Justin Mello    2-107 yds, TD
                                Mickey Mangieri    6-102 yds, TD
10/8    Villanova                R.J. Harris    7-190 yds, TD
10/15  William & Mary    Joey Orlando    8-132 yds
                                Mickey Mangieri    8-100 yds    

HARRIS PROGRAMED TO RECEIVE: R-Fr. WR R.J. Harris is off to a record-setting pace.  The rookie receiver is ranked ninth in the FCS and second in the CAA with 97.2 receiving yards/game, and he is 14th in the nation and second in the CAA with 7.8 receptions/game.  Harris has registered three 100-yard receiving games in five 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 five TD catches, including a 66-yarder (vs Villanova) and a 47-yarder (at Richmond), yards/catch (14.7) and  is second in total receptions (33).  
    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.  

PETERS LOOKS TO TAKE IT TO THE HOUSE: As part of the partnership between Wildcat Sports Properties and Ross Furniture, lucky fans at each home game have the opportunity to win a new couch if the Wildcats can "take it to the house" and score on the opening kickoff. Terrance Fox turned the trick Sept. 4, 2010. Dontra Peters, who ranks sixth in the CAA with 24.6 yards per kick return, with a high of 70 yards, is a threat to take it to the house each time he receives a kick. Since the early 1940s, Ross Furniture Company has been a landmark in downtown Dover. Located at 38 3rd Street in Dover, Ross Furniture was voted "Best of the Best" in the seacoast area for seven years running and has been an official partner of Wildcat Sports since 2009.

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