DURHAM, N.H. – The University of New Hampshire football team held its annual banquet Sunday at the Memorial Union Building, honoring its senior class by bestowing individual accolades. The event puts a stamp on the 2011 season, a year in which the Wildcats posted an 8-4 record and reached the NCAA D-I Football Championship tournament for a national-leading eighth straight season.
Quarterback Kevin Decker (Armonk, N.Y.), the CAA Offensive Player of the Year, was named the team's Most Valuable Player after registering a record-setting campaign in his only season as the starting signal caller. The co-captain ranked first in the CAA in total offense/game (308.4 yards/ninth in the FCS), passing yards/game (272.7/13th in the FCS), points responsible for/game (16.7/sixth in FCS) and pass efficiency (152.5/ninth in the FCS). The All-New England First-Team quarterback completed 262 of 380 passes for 3,272 yards and 22 touchdowns. Decker's single-season totals rated among the best in University history in passing yards (third), completions (fourth) and attempts (sixth); his 4,151 career passing yards are No. 9 all-time. Further, the College Sports Journal FCS All-America Honorable Mention QB rushed 135 times for 429 yards (second on the team) and a team-leading nine TDs.
Co-captain and four-year starter Brian McNally (Cornwall, N.Y.) garnered the Bill Bowes Coaches Award. The defensive end started all 12 games and compiled 26 tackles, 15 solo, including a team-leading 7.5 sacks and squad-high 9.5 tackles for loss. One season after setting UNH's single-season sack record (13.5), McNally was tabbed to the CAA All-Conference First Team, the FCS All-New England Team, an ECAC First Team All-Star, College Sports Journal FCS All-America Honorable Mention and the CAA Academic All-Conference Team. He participated in the prospect-filled Casino Del Sol All-Star Game in Tucson, Ariz., on Jan. 16.
The Bob Demers 12th Player Award went to cornerback Kyle Flemings (Forty Fort, Pa.), a two-year starter who appeared in 10 games during his senior season. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound DB posted 48 tackles, including 24 solo stops, and nabbed two interceptions, highlighted by an overtime pick at Lehigh that sealed a 48-41 triumph. Flemings, a Preseason FCS Senior Scout Bowl Second-Team All-American, closed out his career with eight INTs.
Defensive end James Jenkins (Paterson, N.J.) took home the Jack French Unsung Hero Award after leading all Wildcats' defensive linemen with 45 tackles, including 26 of the solo variety, amassing 3.5 sacks, seven tackles for loss, one pass breakup and a fumble recovery. Jenkins, a two-year starter, is bound for the Beyond Sports Network Collegiate Showcase in Akron, Ohio, from March 9-11. The sociology major also received a 2011 CAA Commissioner's Academic Award.
Mark Petercuskie (Holliston, Mass.) was the recipient of the Buck Buchanan Distinguished Service Award. Petercuskie, a three-time member of the CAA Academic All-Conference Team (2009-11), played in all 12 games and served as the team's starting long snapper while providing depth at linebacker and on special teams. He finished the season with 15 tackles, including five-tackle performances at Toledo and versus Villanova.
Mickey Mangieri (Pound Ridge, N.Y.) was feted with the Bo Dickson Spirit Award. The wide receiver/kick returner battled back from a broken leg that sidelined him for the 2010 season to become a dependable target during his senior season. Mangieri ranked third on the team with a career-high 31 receptions for 341 yards and a touchdown while adding three kickoff returns for 50 yards. The 5-foot-10, 178-pounder recorded a career-best 102 receiving yards on six catches, including a 31-yard TD reception and season-long 42-yard grab, in a victory against Holy Cross. He also snared a personal-best eight catches for 100 yards at William & Mary.
The team's Eugene K. Auerbach Student-Athlete Award was presented to Chris Chandler (Wakefield, Mass.), who graduated in May 2011 with Bachelor of Arts degrees in Earth Science and Economics. The four-time member of the CAA Academic All-Conference Team (2007, 09-11) is currently studying for his Master's Degree in business administration. On the field, Chandler registered a career-high 18 receptions for 170 yards in 11 games (10 starts).
The team also awarded its official game balls for each victory of the 2011 season:
•@ Lehigh, Sept. 10: Flemings iced the Wildcats' 48-41 overtime victory by intercepting Chris Lum's pass at the UNH 2-yard line to end the game.
•@ Richmond, Sept. 24: Rod Walker (Portsmouth, N.H.) established a career high with 10 tackles, including his first-ever sack, to spearhead UNH's 45-43 victory.
•Holy Cross, Oct. 1: Mangieri was honored for his career-high 102 receiving yards, season-best 42-yard reception and 31-yard TD catch in a 39-32 defeat of the Crusaders.
•Villanova, Oct. 8: A.J. DeLago (Menands, N.Y.) booted a career-high 37-yard field goal and totaled 104 yards on two kickoffs in a 47-17 win at Cowell Stadium.
•Massachusetts, Oct. 22: Making his first career start, cornerback Anthony Gorrell (New Brunswick, N.J.) tallied a career-high five tackles in a 27-21 Colonial Clash victory at Gillette Stadium.
•Rhode Island, Oct. 29: Left guard George Pecoraro (Cresskill, N.J.) stepped up in his first start of the season, helping run-block for a UNH offense that rushed for a then-season-high 214 yards and four TDs from four different players en route to a 31-24 home win against the Rams.
•@ James Madison, Nov. 5: Tight end Sean Cullen (Naples, Fla.) was on the receiving end of a 19-yard TD pass from Decker in the final minute of the first half to help propel the 'Cats past the Dukes, 28-10.
•Maine, Nov. 19: Jason Roach (Dorchester, Mass.) made his first career tackle on the opening kickoff to jumpstart UNH to a 30-27 Senior Day defeat of the Black Bears.
For more information on the UNH football team, visit www.unhwildcats.com.