No. 14/17 New Hampshire (3-2, 1-1 CAA) at Georgia State (0-5)
Oct. 6, 2012 • 3:30 p.m. • Georgia Dome • Atlanta, Ga.
Radio: Wildcat Sports Radio Network
Bob Lipman (play-by-play) • Chris Chandler (analyst)
•UNH now possesses the nation's longest streak of weeks ranked in the Top-25 with 118, dating back to Sept. 13, 2004. Montana, which had been ranked for 197 straight weeks, dropped out of the poll for the first time since November 1998.
•A victory at GSU would be the 100th in head coach Sean McDonnell's career.
•UNH is playing in Georgia for the second time ever and the first time since posting a 27-23 victory at Georgia Southern in the opening round of the 2004 NCAA Division I-AA (now FCS) playoffs. It was the first playoff win in UNH history and marked the start of the country's longest stretch of consecutive playoff appearances (eight).
•UNH boasts of the reigning CAA Offensive Player of the Week (QB Andy Vailas) and Defensive Player of the Week (CB Dontra Peters). It is the first time the Wildcats have won both honors in the same week since Sept. 10, 2006 (QB Ricky Santos, CB Corey Graham).
•UNH is 0-2 in its limited experience playing in domed stadiums. In back-to-back seasons, the Wildcats dropped heartbreaking NCAA playoff games in Northern Iowa's UNI Dome: 38-35 (2007) and 36-34 ('08).
•The Wildcats own an all-time record of 2-3 in NFL stadiums during the Coach Mac era. Saturday will mark the fifth time in the last three seasons the 'Cats will battle it out at the home of an NFL team. New Hampshire is 2-0 in CAA games in pro stadiums by virtue of back-to-back triumphs (2010, '11) against Massachusetts in the Colonial Clash at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots.
•UNH, which trailed Delaware 7-0 at halftime last week, was shut out in the first half at home for the first time since Richmond outscored the 'Cats 14-0 on Oct. 14, 2000, en route to a 31-10 Spiders' win.
•Senior linebacker Matt Evans is FCS's active leader in tackles (382) and is No. 2 on UNH's all-time tackles list. He needs 52 tackles to tie Steve Doig (434 tackles, 1978-81).
•Junior kicker Mike MacArthur is 5-for-5 in field goals this season. He is the only league kicker with a 100% conversion rate with at least five attempts.
118 WEEKS IN A ROW: With Montana dropping out of the Top 25 this week for the first time since 1998, UNH now owns the nation's longest streak of Top-25 appearances with 118 in a row. The streak dates back to Sept. 13, 2004. Delaware, at a distant 35 weeks, has the second-longest ranked tenure in the CAA.
TALE OF THE TAPE:
Totals (CAA Rank) UNH GSU
Total Offense 483.6 (2) 287.6 (10)
Rush Offense 244.8 (2) 104.6 (10)
Pass Offense 238.8 (4) 183.0 (6)
Scoring Offense 36.6 (2) 10.0 (10)
Total Defense 410.0 (9) 459.8 (10)
Rush Defense 124.8 (3) 21.6 (10)
Pass Defense 285.2 (11) 249.2 (8)
Scoring Defense 29.8 (9) 38.4 (11)
Possession Avg. 28:55 (7) 26:23 (11)
Sacks Made/Yards 14/84 (3) 2/7 (11)
Penalties Against/Yards 33/264 (6) 22/177 (2)
Punts/Net Avg. 23/32.4 (10) 21/41.3 (1)
Turnover Differential +7 (1) -13 (11)
3rd Down Conversion% 51.9 (1) 34.8 (9)
4th Down Conversion% 0-for-8 (11) 5-for-10 (8)
Red Zone Offense% 91.3 (2) 61.5 (11)
SCOUTING THE PANTHERS: The unranked Panthers have dropped their first five games of the season, including their first two conference games against Richmond and William & Mary. Georgia State is in its inaugural and FBS transition season in the Colonial Athletic Association and just its third year as a program overall. Head coach Bill Curry has been at the helm of the Panthers' football program in every season of its existence, posting a 9-18 record with the team. Curry is in his 20th season as a head coach, and carries a 92-123-4 overall record. Curry started his fifth different quarterback in two seasons last week at William & Mary. Redshirt freshman quarterback Ronnie Bell was 13 of 26 in the 35-3 loss at Zable Stadium on Sept. 29.
The Panthers have struggled finding an answer on offense in the first half of their season, but Bell may provide an answer for that. He gave the Tribe defense fits on third down, converting on eight occasions, both on the ground and through the air. It is also important to note that Georgia State is a disciplined team, ranking second in penalties-against in the CAA.
GEORGIA STATE PLAYERS TO WATCH: Senior running back Donald Russell has been a stalwart in the backfield for the Panthers this season. The 5-foot-11, 212-pound power back from West Palm Beach, Fla. averages 15 rushes per game and has averaged 98.0 yards-per-game on the ground. Russell also has 13 receptions for 120 yards.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Ronnie Bell started his first game of the season last week at William & Mary. The Ohio University transfer spent his one season with the Bobcats as a redshirt and was expected to compete for the starting job immediately after enrolling at GSU. Bell led Sandy Creek High of Fayetteville, Ga. to a remarkable 29-1 record in his four years, including two state titles (2009, 2010). He was also named First-Team All-State twice. This year Bell is 25-for-47 with one touchdown.
The Panthers have started three quarterbacks this year, but their consistent target has been junior wide receiver Albert Wilson. The 5-foot-9 wideout has hauled in 24 passes for 386 yards and three touchdowns this season. Wilson has shown amazing chemistry with the trio of quarterbacks used by GSU this year, no matter which one is throwing the ball. The junior out of Port St. Lucie, Fla. is also the leading punt and kick returner for the Panthers, averaging 9.0 and 20.8 yards per return.
Georgia State's defense has been suspect at times, but is anchored in the middle by junior nose guard Terrance Woodard. Woodard leads the Panthers' defense with 36 tackles, one sack and one fumble recovery.
GSU starts a pair of true freshman linebackers: Joseph Peterson at inside linebacker and Bryan Williams on the outside. Peterson has been a bright spot for Georgia State this season, recording 29 total tackles, good for third on the team, and forcing one fumble.
Safety Demazio Skelton leads GSU's defense in solo tackles (22) and has recovered one fumble this season.
LAST TIME OUT: UNH-34, DELAWARE-14 - SEPT. 29
DURHAM, N.H.- R.J. Harris (Odenton, Md.) hauled in a pair of second-half touchdown passes and racked up 129 receiving yards to help the 20th-ranked University of New Hampshire football team post a convincing 34-14 victory against No. 8 and previously unbeaten Delaware at Cowell Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
UNH upped its record to 3-2 on the season and 1-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association, while Delaware dipped to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the CAA. The Wildcats won their eighth consecutive home game and improved to 20-1 in their last 21 games at Mooradian Field.
Andy Vailas (Bedford, N.H.) matched a career best with 23 completions (seven to Harris) on 36 attempts for 315 yards and two TDs. The sophomore signal caller added 14 carries for 36 yards and a score.
Joey Orlando (Bethlehem, Pa.) added six catches for 74 yards as UNH amassed 409 of its 472 yards of total offense in the second half.
The Wildcats' defense held the Blue Hens to 234 yards and a mere 92 yards in the second half. Manny Asam (Bloomfield, N.J.) spearheaded the attack and tied a career high by notching 11 tackles (eight solo) and a personal-best 1.5 sacks. Dontra Peters (Annapolis, Md.) tallied two interceptions and three tackles, including a half sack, Matt Evans (Hanover, Mass.) chipped in with nine tackles, and Robbie Zauck (Ocean City, N.J.) collected two of UNH's six sacks of Delaware quarterback Trent Hurley (18-for-27, 140 yards, TD, INT).
Trailing 7-0 at halftime, the Wildcats scored touchdowns on their first three possessions of the second half to open a 21-7 lead with 14:50 left in the game.
UNH tied the game, 7-7, when Harris snared his first TD catch of the contest on a 32-yard pass to conclude an eight-play, 72-yard drive at 11:02 of the third quarter. On third-and-12, Vailas stepped up in the pocket and fired a strike down the left sideline that Harris caught in stride on his way to the end zone.
The 'Cats took the lead for good, 14-7, when Vailas capped a seven-play, 77-yard drive with a one-yard TD rush with 5:08 left in the third. The signal caller took the shotgun snap, faked a handoff to Chris Setian (East Longmeadow, Mass./three carries-13 yards/three catches-18 yards) and walked in untouched for the score.
Vailas and Harris would connect for the second time early in the fourth for a seven-yard reception and a 21-7 Wildcats' advantage. On third-and-goal, Vailas scrambled to his left to elude pressure and zipped a scoring pass to the open Harris just inside the goal line to wrap up a 12-play, 67-yard drive that lasted more than four minutes.
Mike MacArthur (North Hampton, N.H.) improved to 5-for-5 in field goal kicking on the season by successfully hitting from 23 yards out with 8:16 left for a 24-7 lead and a 28-yarder that staked New Hampshire to a 27-7 lead with 4:54 to go.
The Wildcats capped a 34-0 run when Jimmy Owens (West Deptford, N.J./team-leading 72 rushing yards on four carries) took a handoff up the middle, angled left and outraced the Blue Hen secondary for a career-high 60-yard run with 3:52 left.
The Blue Hens led 7-0 at halftime thanks to Hurley's one-yard run with 1:05 left in the first quarter. It marked the first time the Wildcats had been blanked at home in the opening half of a game since Oct. 14, 2000, against Richmond.
BEST OFFENSIVE/DEFENSIVE PERFORMERS IN SAME WEEK: Sophomore QB Andy Vailas and senior CB Dontra Peters received the CAA Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week award, respectively, Oct. 1. That marked the first time under the CAA banner the Wildcats received both honors the same week. The last time UNH boasted the league's Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week simultaneously was Sept. 10, 2006, when junior QB Ricky Santos and senior CB Corey Graham were feted by the Atlantic-10 for their outstanding efforts in a win at Northwestern.
SOS EXPRESS: The Wildcats' SOS Express –Nico Steriti, Jimmy Owens and Chris Setian- has been causing distress around the CAA. The three-pronged running back stable is averaging 244.8 rushing yards/game (No. 2 in CAA), including a 389-yard attack at Old Dominion on Sept. 22 and 331 yards in a victory against Central Connecticut State on Sept. 15. Steriti is ranked fourth in the league with 84.8 rushing yards/game and three TDs. Owens averages a team-best 7.4 yards/carry with a team-high four touchdowns, highlighted by a 60-yard outburst in the Sept. 29 win against Delaware. Setian has proven to be a dual threat with 253 rushing yards (6.2 yards/carry) with three TDs to go along with 10 receptions for 70 yards and a score. As if that's not enough, Andy Vailas also has rushed for three TDs and has a team season-high 67-yard TD run (at ODU) to his credit.
99? HE'LL ALWAYS COME BACK FOR MORE: UNH head coach Sean McDonnell notched his 99th career head coaching victory in last Saturday's 34-14 defeat of previously unbeaten Delaware.
SWEET GEORGIA TOWN: The Wildcats will play in the Peach State for only the second time in program history when they tangle with GSU at the Georgia Dome. The previous visit to Georgia proved to be a watershed moment for the UNH program; on Nov. 27, 2004, the Wildcats shocked Georgia Southern, 27-23, in the opening round of the Division I-AA (now FCS) playoffs. Now-Baltimore Raven Corey Graham returned a kickoff 99 yards, setting up a John McCoy TD run, and R.J. Harvey added a 52-yard TD scamper to help the 'Cats erase deficits of 14-0 and 21-6. It was the first postseason win in school history and jumpstarted UNH's nation-leading eight straight years in the playoffs.
OH FOR THE DOME: UNH is 0-2 in its limited experience playing in domed stadiums. In back-to-back seasons, the Wildcats dropped heartbreaking NCAA playoff games in Northern Iowa's UNI Dome: 38-35 (2007) and 36-34 ('08).
NFL VENUES: The Wildcats own an all-time record of 2-3 in NFL stadiums during the Coach Mac era. UNH lost to South Florida, 42-41 in overtime, at Tampa Bay's Raymond James Stadium on Oct. 23, 1999. Saturday will mark the fifth time in the last three seasons the 'Cats will battle it out at the home of an NFL team. UNH lost at Heinz Field to Pittsburgh, 38-16, on Sept. 11, 2010, and earlier this season fell to Minnesota, 44-7, at TCF Bank Stadium –the former and future temporary home of the Vikings- on Sept. 8. New Hampshire is 2-0 in CAA games in pro stadiums by virtue of back-to-back triumphs against Massachusetts in the Colonial Clash at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots. The Wildcats recorded a 39-13 win over the Minutemen on Oct. 23, 2010, and closed their longtime rivalry against UMass with a 27-21 win Oct. 22, 2011, in the 74th and final scheduled meeting between the two schools.
BAD HALF: UNH, which trailed Delaware 7-0 at halftime last week, was shut out in the first half at home for the first time since Richmond outscored the 'Cats 14-0 on Oct. 14, 2000, en route to a 31-10 Spiders' win.
BETTER HALVES: In back-to-back weeks, the quick-strike Wildcats' offense has produced 40 first-half points at Old Dominion on Sept. 22 and followed that up with a 34-point second half in last week's home win against Delaware. Entering the season, the 'Cats had not scored as many points in a half since breaking out for a 40-7 halftime lead versus Towson on the way to a 57-7 victory at Unitas Stadium on Oct. 3, 2009.
MONEY MIKE: Junior kicker Mike MacArthur improved to 5-for-5 on the season in field goal kicking with successful conversions from 23 yards and 28 yards in last week's triumph vs Delaware. No other kicker in the CAA with as many FG attempts has a 100% success rate.
WELCOME TO THE DUNGEON: Since the start of the 2007 season, the Wildcats are 27-3 at Cowell Stadium. The 'Cats have posted a 20-1 mark in their last 21 home 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 eight games.
EVANS LEADS FCS IN CAREER TACKLES: Senior middle linebacker Matt Evans is the FCS active leader in career tackles (382) and solo tackles (210). Here is a breakdown of Evans vs his nearest pursuers:
Player School Career Total Tackles
1. Matt Evans UNH 382
2. Aaron Archie Indiana State 356
3. Jordan Ridley Butler 354
Player School Career Solo Tackles
1. Matt Evans UNH 210
T-2. Darnell Taylor Sam Houston St. 178
T-2 . Keith Pough Howard 178
•Matt Evans, who moved into No. 2 on UNH's all-time tackles list Sept. 15, needs 52 tackles to match all-time leader Steve Doig. Here is a look at his road to the all-time career-tackles mark.
1. Steve Doig (1978-81) 434
2. Matt Evans (2009-present) 382
•Joey Orlando needs 33 receiving yards to reach UNH's top 10, and he is three receptions short of the top 10 in that category:
Career Receiving Yards
10. Michael Taylor (1999-2002) 1,893
Joey Orlando (2009-present) 1,860
10. Mike Gallagher (1989-92) 150
Joey Orlando (2009-present) 147
•Dontra Peters needs 73 all-purpose yards to reach 3,000 for his career.
•Sean McDonnell is one win away from 100 for his career.