No. 18 Football welcomes Central Connecticut State to Cowell Stadium on Saturday (12 p.m.)

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No. 18/18 New Hampshire (1-1, 0-0 CAA) vs Central Connecticut State (0-2, 0-0 NEC)
Sept. 15, 2012 • 12:00 p.m. • Cowell Stadium • Durham, N.H.
Live Video: UNHWildcats.TV
Live Stats: UNHWildcats.com
Radio: Wildcat Sports Radio Network
Bob Lipman (play-by-play) • Chris Chandler (analyst) • Jayde Marie Huxtable (studio)

 

QUICK HITTERS

Under head coach Sean McDonnell, UNH is 10-3 in its home openers. The Wildcats are riding a seven-game home-opener winning streak, dating back to Sept. 24, 2005. UNH is 2-0 versus CCSU in home openers during this stretch, with triumphs against the Blue Devils in 2003 (70-20) and 2010 (33-3).  

UNH'S 6-0 all-time record against CCSU represents the most wins versus any opponent without an all-time defeat.  The closest margin of victory was 13 points in 1976 in New Britain, and the Blue Devils have lost by as many as 50 points (2003) in their four previous visits to Cowell Stadium. New Hampshire is 2-0 vs CCSU in the Coach Mac era.

Matt Evans needs eight tackles to take over sole possession of second place on UNH's all-time list. With 352 all-time stops, the senior LB is currently No.  4 all-time. With five tackles Saturday, he will overtake Matt Parent (2005-08) for the No. 3 spot. Jeff Pammer (2004-07) currently holds the No. 2 spot with 359 tackles, and Steve Doig (1978-81) sits atop the all-time list with 434 tackles. 

•UNH paces the CAA with six sacks through two games.  MLB Matt Evans set a careeer high with a pair of sacks at Minnesota last week. DE Cody Muller has notched sacks in back-to-back games, including his first career start, while DT Matt Kaplan and DE Jay Colbert have one sack apiece.

•Sophomore QB Andy Vailas is expected to make his first career start for the Wildcats on Saturday. Vailas, who battled redshirt freshman Sean Goldrich for the No. 1 spot during preseason, was pressed into duty last Saturday after Goldrich was injured on the second offensive play. The Bedford, N.H., native responded by completing 18 of 35 passes for 158 yards. He was sacked four times and threw one INT.

•Sophomore WR R.J. Harris leads the CAA in receptions/game (9.0) and yards/play (14.2). His 81.5 receiving yards/game and his 122.5 all-purpose yards/game rank third in the league.

115 WEEKS IN A ROW:  With a No. 18 ranking in The Sports Network Poll, UNH has now been ranked in the Top 25 for 115 consecutive weeks. The nation's second-longest streak, which dates back to Sept. 13, 2004, has been bettered only by Montana (195 weeks). Delaware, at a distant 32 weeks, has the second-longest ranked tenure in the CAA.

LAST MEETING: UNH-33, CCSU-3, SEPT. 4, 2010
DURHAM, N.H.
-The ninth-ranked University of New Hampshire football team opened up the 2010 season in impressive fashion, dominating Central Connecticut State University, 33-3, before a crowd of 7,419 at Cowell Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 4.  Senior Terrance Fox set the tone by returning the game's opening kickoff 91 yards for a touchdown, and sophomore running back Dontra Peters rushed 19 times for a career-high 197 yards and two scores. UNH (1-0) jumped in front just 16 seconds into the game when Fox, making his first appearance since the 2008 season, registered the first kick-return score of his career. The two-point conversion attempt failed, and the Wildcats had a 6-0 lead. New Hampshire added another big play later in the first quarter when Peters burst through the line on a 4th-and-1 play, making the gamble pay off when he raced 47 yards for a touchdown.  Sophomore kicker A.J. DeLago tacked on the extra point, capping an eight-play, 79-yard drive that gave the Wildcats a 13-0 lead with 8:07 remaining in the opening period.  The lead increased to 19-0 with 10:22 remaining in the first half when Peters ran inside left tackle, going 15 yards for his second scoring run of the afternoon.  The extra point went wide right.  The scoring drive took seven plays and covered 53 yards in 3:11. The 'Cats moved in front, 26-0, with 6:23 left in the second quarter. Facing 3rd-and-goal from the three-yard line, senior quarterback R.J. Toman  lobbed a scoring pass to junior tight end Chris Jeannot in the back of the end zone, and DeLago added the extra point to finish off the four-play, 30-yard drive. Central Connecticut State (0-1) got on the board when freshman kicker Steven Calitri (Gilman, Conn.) booted a 29-yard field goal on the final play of the first half, cutting New Hampshire's lead to 26-3.  The only points scored in the second half came courtesy of UNH sophomore defensive lineman Randi Vines, who intercepted a pass from Blue Devils junior quarterback Gunnar Jespersen  and took it back 30 yards for a pick-six with 12:50 left in the fourth quarter.  An extra point by freshman kicker Mike MacArthur provided the final margin. Sophomore linebacker Matt Evans  spearheaded the ferocious Wildcats' defensive effort with a game-high 14 tackles, including five solo stops and a half-sack.  Senior safety John Greer  added 10 tackles (five solo) and a sack. UNH held CCSU's vaunted ground attack to a grand total of 220 yards of offense and only 86 rushing yards on 39 carries (2.2 yards per carry). 

TALE OF THE TAPE: 

Totals (FCS Rank)            UNH                  CCSU
Total Offense               381.0 (46)         248.5 (94) 
Rush Offense               173.5 (39)         173.0 (T-40)
Pass Offense               207.5 (T-46)        75.5 (109)
Scoring Offense              2.5 (60)          15.5 (T-82)
Total Defense                379.0 (62)        443.0 (86)
Rush Defense               157.5 (T-60)       224.5 (83)
Pass Defense                  221.5 (77)        218.5 (74)
Scoring Defense             30.5 (T-64)       42 (T-101)
Possession Avg.               29:38 (66)       30:35 (50)
Sacks Made/Yards           6/24 (T-15)       1/12 (T-90) 
Penalties Against/Yards    14/117 (T-63)    4/54 (2)
Punts/Net Avg.                8/32.75 (67)     12/34.58 (51) 
Turnover Differential          +2 (T-19)       0 (T-51)
3rd Down Conversion%      48.5 (18)        25.9 (T-92)
4th Down Conversion%      0.0 (T-79)       60.0 (T-38)  
Red Zone Offense%          86.0 (T-50)      100.0 (T-1)

SERIES HISTORY: UNH'S 6-0 all-time record against CCSU represents the most wins versus any opponent without an all-time defeat.  The closest margin of victory was 13 points in 1976 in New Britain, and the Blue Devils have lost by as many as 50 points (2003) in their four previous visits to Cowell Stadium. New Hampshire is 2-0 vs CCSU in the Coach Mac era. 

SCOUTING THE BLUE DEVILAS: QB Andrew Clements rushed for 103 yards on 15 carries and added two touchdowns in Central Connecticut State's season opening loss, 49-17, to Stony Brook on Sept. 1. Clements completed 8 of 11 passes for 64 yards.  CCSU scored its first touchdown of the season on a 28-yard run by Clements, which was set up by a drive-stopping interception by freshman DB Aaron Berardino.  Berardino added four tackles in the losing effort on Sept. 1 in Stony Brook, N.Y. In the home opener against Lehigh last week, running back Rob Hollomon gained 111 rushing yards on 23 attempts, including a two-yard dive into the end-zone to open CCSU's scoring in the third quarter. Clements added a touchdown pass to Denzell Jones in the fourth quarter to close the scoring as the Blue Devils (0-2) dropped their second straight of the season, 35-14, on Sept. 8.

CCSU PLAYERS TO WATCH:  Junior quarterback Andrew Clements led the offensive attack (career-high 103 rushing yards, 64 passing) in the opening weekend loss at Stony Brook. Clements added two touchdown scampers from 28 and 50 yards out.  He recorded the first touchdown pass of his career in the team's most recent contest, a loss to Lehigh on Sept. 8.  In 2011, Clements played in 11 games as a sophomore, splitting time at linebacker, fullback and quarterback.  Moving from defense to offense midway through the year, Clements attempted only two passes before this season.

His first career touchdown pass was hauled in by junior Denzell Jones. The 6-foot-6 wide receiver moved from QB to WR after his freshman season.  Jones ranked fourth on the team in receptions, yards, yards per catch (12.3) and yards per game (22.4) last year.  Kent State transfer running back Rob Hollomon added the only other touchdown on the season as a part of his 111-yard explosion last weekend.

Freshman DB Aaron Berardino was named the New England Conference Rookie of the Week.  Berardino had a drive-ending interception before halftime that led to a Blue Devil touchdown.  He also recorded four solo tackles in his first collegiate game.  A former Connecticut All-State selection during high school, Berardino stood out as a WR and kick return specialist.  He also returns kicks for the Blue Devils and appears to add versatility to the CCSU defense.

Junior linebacker Patrick Atkinson leads the Blue Devils defense in tackles (19), including eight solo stops.  His breakout game came last weekend versus Lehigh, a loss in which he contributed 12 tackles and an interception. Junior DB Chris Linares looks to build on a strong season last year where he led the team with nine pass breakups and was third with two interceptions. Linares added had 28 solo tackles, which tied for fourth-most on the team.   

 

LAST TIME OUT:  MINNESOTA-44, UNH-7 -SEPT. 8 MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. – University of Minnesota quarterback MarQueis Gray passed for two touchdowns and ran for two more to lead the Golden Gophers to a 44-7 victory against the University of New Hampshire in Saturday afternoon's football matchup at TCF Bank Stadium. UNH -- now 5-5 against Football Bowl Subdivision teams, including 1-1 against the Big Ten – fell to 1-1 overall in the 2012 season. Minnesota improved to 2-0. UNH's offense was led by sophomore quarterback Andy Vailas, who was forced into action when redshirt freshman Sean Goldrich was injured on the Wildcats' second offensive play. Vailas was 18-for-34 for 158 yards, all of which marked career highs; he also threw one interception and was sacked four times. R.J. Harris was his top target with six catches for 61 yards. Jimmy Giansante followed with three receptions for 55 yards. Nico Steriti was the top ground gainer with six carries for 34 yards and Chris Setian accounted for UNH's touchdown with a five-yard scamper late in the first quarter. The Wildcats' defensive effort was spearheaded by Matt Evans and Alan Buzbee with nine tackles apiece; Evans finished with a personal-best two sacks. Cody Muller recorded a career-high seven tackles, including a sack, and also forced a fumble that was recovered by teammate Chris Beranger. Minnesota outgained UNH, 412-231, with a 240-68 edge in rushing yards. Gray finished 6 of 8 for 100 passing yards and had 17 carries for 109 yards. Donnell Kirkwood also had 17 rushes for a total of 70 yards and a touchdown. The Golden Gophers quickly built a 9-0 lead in the first quarter with a safety and touchdown spanning 18 seconds. With UNH facing 4th-and-6 at its 15-yard line, the long snap went between the hands of punter Mike MacArthur, who retreated to the end zone and threw the ball out of bounds for a Minnesota safety and a 2-0 lead at 10:12. Troy Stoudermire returned the ensuing kickoff 48 yards and a personal foul against the 'Cats gave the home team 1st-and-10 at the UNH 27. Gray lofted a pass down the left sideline for a 27-yard touchdown completion to Isaac Fruechte, and Jordan Wettstein's PAT extended the Gophers' lead to 9-0 at 9:54. The Wildcats responded with an eight-play, 76-yard drive to pull within 9-7 with 34 seconds remaining in the first quarter. Vailas' 25-yard completion to Giansante and a 16-yard run by Setian quickly advanced the ball to the UM 38. Vailas then connected with Harris for 18 yards and Giansante for eight more to set up 2nd-and-2 from the 13. Steriti carried the ball eight yards to create 1st and goal, and Vailas pitched the ball right to Setian, who won the race to the pylon and MacAruthur's kick was successful. Minnesota reestablished a nine-point lead, 16-7, just 11 seconds later when Gray opted to keep the ball, broke through a hole in the middle of the line and raced to the end zone for a 75-yard touchdown. Gray orchestrated an eight-play, 67-yard TD drive that consumed 4:04 off the clock and extended the advantage to 23-7 at 6:50. On 3rd & 2 at the UNH 35, Gray found John Rabe down the right seam for a 33-yard gain. One play later, Rabe came out of the backfield in the wishbone formation to catch the ball in the right flat for a two-yard score from Gray. Minnesota's defense forced a turnover on a strip-sack of Vailas and Gray scored three plays later on an 11-yard keeper up the middle to give the Gophers a 30-7 lead at 4:56. Minnesota consumed more than eight minutes off the clock on a 16-play, 85-yard drive that culminated in a two-yard TD run by Kirkwood that gave the home team a 37-7 lead. Minnesota closed the scoring at 6:40 of the fourth quarter on a 12-play, 86-yard drive capped by a 19-yard pass from Max Shortell to A.J. Barker.

WELCOME TO THE DUNGEON: Since the start of the 2007 season, the Wildcats are 24-3 at Cowell Stadium. The 'Cats have posted an 18-1 mark in their last 19 games and have gone unbeaten at Cowell Stadium in two of the last three seasons. They've lost to only two schools during this amazing stretch: Northeastern, 31-13, on Nov. 3, 2007, and twice to William & Mary:  38-34, on Oct. 11, 2008, and 13-3 on Nov. 6, 2010.  In between the two defeats to the Tribe, UNH set a school record with 12 straight home victories. The current home winning streak is six games.

NON-CONFERENCE HOME DOMINANCE: Under Coach Mac, the Wildcats have posted a 16-1 regular-season non-conference record at Mooradian Field.  The last non-league opponent to win in Durham during the regular season was Gardner-Webb, 38-35, on Nov. 11, 2000. New Hampshire has rattled off 14 straight non-conference home regular-season wins since then.  The last non-CAA team to knock off UNH in the postseason was Northern Iowa, which registered a 24-21 NCAA quarterfinal victory in The Dungeon on Dec. 3, 2005. Since then, the 'Cats have tallied nine straight non-conference home victories.

 

MILESTONE WATCH: 

Matt Evans needs eight tackles to take over sole possession of second place on UNH's all-time list. Here is a look at his road to the all-time career-tackles mark, which he is currently 82 tackles shy of reaching:

Career Tackles

1. Steve Doig (1978-81) 434

2. Jeff Pammer (2004-07) 359

3. Matt Parent (2005-08) 356

4. Matt Evans (2009-present) 352

5. Aaron Thomas (2000-04) 343

 

Joey Orlando needs 224 receiving yards to reach UNH's top 10, and he is 21 receptions short of the top 10 in that category:

Career Receiving Yards

10. Michael Taylor (1999-2002) 1,893

Joey Orlando (2009-present) 1,660

Career Receptions

10. Mike Gallagher (1989-92) 150

Joey Orlando (2009-present) 129

HOME OPENERS:  Under head coach Sean McDonnell, UNH is 10-3 in its home openers. The Wildcats are riding a seven-game home-opener winning streak, dating back to Sept. 24, 2005. UNH is 2-0 versus CCSU in home openers during the Coach Mac era, with triumphs against the Blue Devils in 2003 (70-20) and 2010 (33-3). 

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