November 13, 2013

GAME NOTES: No. 23 Football Heads to Albany for CAA Battle (Nov. 16, 3:30 p.m.)

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No. 23/RV New Hampshire (5-4, 4-2 CAA) at Albany (1-9, 0-6 CAA)
Nov. 16, 2013 • 3:30 p.m. • Bob Ford Field • Albany, N.Y.

Radio:
 Wildcat Sports Radio Network
Bob Lipman (play-by-play) • Chris Chandler (analyst)

QUICK HITTERS

New Hampshire improved its record to 2-2 against nationally-ranked opponents with last Saturday's 33-17 victory against then-No. 22 James Madison University at Cowell Stadium.

This Saturday marks the second meeting between the UNH and Albany football programs. The inaugural matchup ended in a 32-24 Wildcats' victory Sept. 20, 2008 at Cowell Stadium.

UNH has won four of its last five games – all in CAA conference play.



Junior wide receiver R.J. Harris was named the recipient of this week's FCS Gold Helmet Award as well as the FCS Wide Receiver of the Week by College Football Performance Awards. Harris returned from a three-week absence to record 10 catches for 183 yards and a career-high three TDs vs. James Madison on Nov. 9. It marked his first 100-yard game of the season – ninth career.

New Hampshire has a 1-4 road record this season with the lone win Oct. 26 at Stony Brook University by a score of 31-13. In their most recent road game, the Wildcats were defeated 17-0 at William & Mary at Zable Stadium on Nov. 2.

Albany is winless in four home games at its new facility, Bob Ford Field. The competition has been tough – the last two home games were against then-No. 7 Towson University on Oct. 19 and then-No. 8 University of Maine on Nov. 9.

Saturday's game is Senior Day for Albany and the last home game for 41st-year head coach Bob Ford (256-168 record at UA).

One of the story lines will be UNH's high-powered offense –which ranks second in the CAA in both passing offense (255.3 yards/game) and total offense (451.9 yds/game) as well as fourth in scoring offense (31.2 points/game) – against Albany's defense. The Great Danes rank last in the league in passing yards allowed (257.5), total defense (462.4) and scoring defense (35.1).

Last week vs. JMU, junior quarterback Andy Vailas received word he would start just moments before opening kickoff. In his first start since Oct. 5, Vailas completed 28 of 49 passes for 397 yards – all career highs – and two TDs.

137 WEEKS IN A ROW:   UNH  owns the nation's longest streak of Top-25 appearances with 137 in a row, a stretch that dates back to Sept. 13, 2004, and is an amazing 83 weeks longer than Montana State, which has the country's second-longest ranked streak. Towson, with 36 weeks, has the CAA's second-longest streak.

UNH vs. Albany all-time series:   New Hampshire won the first – and only – meeting against the University at Albany with a 32-24 victory in front of 7,215 fans at Cowell Stadium on Sept. 20, 2008.
    In that game, UNH struck first with a touchdown with 1:21 elapsed but the Great Danes closed the first quarter with a 10-0 run and extended the lead to 17-7 at 10:40 of the second quarter. The Wildcats scored another TD with three seconds remaining in the first half to close within 17-14 at halftime.
    New Hampshire struck again less than two minutes into the third quarter to regain the lead, 21-17, and followed that with a safety to extend the advantage to six points. UA went back in front, 24-23, at 6:16 of the third but the 'Cats answered with a TD drive to go back in front, 29-24, at 3:37.
    The fourth quarter began with Tom Manning's 45-yard field goal and neither team scored the rest of the way.
    Here is the breakdown of the UNH-UA all-time series:
Date    H/A    UNH    UA    W    L    Result
Sean McDonnell Era (1-0)
09/20/08    H    32    24    1    0    W

SCOUTING THE Great Danes: The University at Albany enters Saturday's game with a 1-9 overall record that includes 0-6 in the CAA and 0-4 at home (0-3 in CAA home games). The Great Danes have lost eight consecutive games dating back to a 37-34 win at Colgate University on Sept. 7.
    Four of those eight losses have been by less than seven points, however, and that includes last week's 33-27 home loss to (then) No. 8 University of Maine. UA also had close calls against the University of Rhode Island (19-13, OT; Sept. 14), Central Connecticut State University (20-17; Sept. 21) and Delaware (33-30; Oct. 12).
    An even closer look shows that Albany held fourth-quarter leads against CCSU (17-10 entering the 4th) and Delaware (30-22 with 3:18 remaining). Last week vs. Maine, the Great Danes took a 14-7 lead midway through the second quarter and later leveled the score, 27-27 at 14:35 of the fourth quarter en route to a 33-27 loss.

Players to Watch: Senior wide receiver Kevin Chillis ranks fifth in the CAA in all-purpose yards at 118.9 yards/game and sixth in kickoff returns (21.3/return); last week vs. Maine, Chillis compiled 179 all-purpose yards with 97 kickoff return, 74 receiving and eight rushing. In 10 games, he has 43 catches for 533 yards and five TDs.
    Junior running back Omar Osbourne is immediately behind Chillis in all-purpose yardage at 116.8 yards/game. Last week against the Black Bears, Osbourne carried the ball 29 times for 134 yards – he did not have any rushes for negative yards. Osbourne ranks third in the CAA and No. 16 in the nation in rushing yards (1,040); he is also third in the league in rushing TDs with 11.
    The defense is led by senior cornerback Randall Exantus and junior linebacker Christian Dorsey. Randall has a team-high 71 tackles, but it is Dorsey who ranks No. 8 in the CAA in tackles per game (8.6) with 69 in eight games. Exantus has one of the team's four interceptions. Dorsey did not play last week vs. Maine.
CAREER DAY FOR 'CATS VS. JMU: Junior quarterback Andy Vailas completed 28 of 49 assists for 397 yards – all career highs – last Saturday vs. James Madison.
    Senior wide receiver Justin Mello tallied personal bests in both catches (10) and receiving yards (123). It marked his fourth 100-yard yard receiving game of the season and fifth of his career.
    Junior wide receiver R.J. Harris hauled in a career-high three touchdown catches vs. the Dukes.
    On the defensive side of the ball, junior cornerback Steven Thames and redshirt defensive back Casey DeAndrade both matched their career highs in tackles with six apiece. DeAndrade finished with five solo tackles and one assisted while Thames tallied four solo and two assisted.

A REGAL EFFORT VS. THE DUKES: New Hampshire recorded season highs in yards passing (449), pass attempts (50), pass completions (29–tie), TD passes (three–tie), total plays (82) and interceptions (two–tie) against James Madison on Nov. 9.
    Defensively, the Wildcats shut out the Dukes in the first half; one week earlier, the 'Cats blanked William & Mary in the fourth quarter for a total of three consecutive scoreless quarters by the opposition.

DOUBLING UP: R.J. Harris (183) and Justin Mello (123) became the first UNH duo to exceed 100 receiving yards in the same game since Harris and Joey Orlando accomplished the feat Aug. 30, 2012 at Holy Cross.

AN UNLIKELY SOURCE: On his first career pass attempt, junior running back Nico Steriti completed a 52-yard halfback-option touchdown pass to classmate R.J. Harris to give UNH a 14-0 lead at 3:58 of the second quarter against James Madison on Nov. 2. It marked the Wildcats' longest TD pass of the season and second-longest pass play in the 2013 season (to the 53-yard Andy Vailas to Justin Mello play vs. Colgate, Sept. 14).

STERITI RUNNING TOWARD 2,000: Junior RB Nico Steriti entered UNH's Top 10 list in career rushing yards during his 68-yard effort vs. James Madison on Nov. 9, when he surpassed both Curt Collins and Jim Quinn. He needs 41 ground yards to reach the 2,000-yard mark for his career.
UNH All-Time Leading Rushers
1.    Jerry Azumah (1995-98)    6,193

8.    Avrom Smith (1991-94)    2,237
9.    Nico Steriti (2011-present)    1,959
10. Jim Quinn (1979-82)    1,947
11. Curt Collins (1980-82)    1,927

HARRIS AMONG BEST IN SCHOOL HISTORY: Junior WR R.J. Harris ascended to sixth place for UNH's all-time receptions (170) and eighth place on UNH's all-time receiving yards list (2,219) following a 10-catch, 170-yard performance in a win against James Madison on Nov. 9.
    Harris is within 15 yards of climbing to No. 7 and 98 yards of sixth place. He will move into the Top 5 in catches with 12 more.
Receiving Yards
1.     David Ball (2003-06)    4,655

5.    Chris Braune (1986-89)    2,612    
6.     Mike Boyle (2005-08)    2,317
7    Keith LeVan (2004-07)    2,234
8.    R.J. Harris (2011-present)    2,219
9.    Joey Orlando (2009-12)    2,131
Receptions
1.     David Ball (2003-06)    304

4.    John Perry (1989-92)    191
5.    David Gamble (1990-93)    182
6.    R.J. Harris (2011-present)    170
7.    Joey Orlando (2009-12)    168

MONEY MIKE IS ALL-TIME FG KING: Senior place kicker Mike MacArthur took over UNH's all-time lead in field goals by successfully hitting a 23-yard attempt – the 41st make of his career – in the third quarter of the Wildcats' 29-28 victory vs. Villanova at Cowell Stadium on Oct. 19.
    MacArthur, who surpassed Connor McCormick (40, 2002-05), climbed into a tie for ninth place on the CAA leaderboard with field goals of 29 and 35 yards against James Madison (Nov. 9); the 35-yarder matched his long for the season. Here is a look at the CAA all-time FG made list.
Rank    FG    Name    School    Years
1.        59    Greg Kuehn    W&M    2002-05

4.        49    Rob Zarrilli     Hofstra    2005-07
T-5.    48    Miro Kesic    Northeastern    2002-05
T-5.    48    Brian Shallcross    W&M    1994-97
7.        46    Brett Sterba    W&M    1997-2000
8.        45    Brian Pate    W&M    2006-09
T-9.    44    Mike MacArthur    UNH    2010-13
        44    Brandon Hanes    Northeastern    1994-97

NATIONAL NUMBERS:  UNH is ranked in the top 25 in three national statistics – No. 8 least penalized (37.6 yards/game); No. 19 total offense (451.9 yds/game), No. 25 pass offense (255.3 yards/game).

QB MILESTONES:  Junior quarterback Andy Vailas surpassed 1,000 passing yards in the 2013 season during his career-high 397-yard effort Nov. 9 vs. James Madison. He currently has 1,234 passing yards this year.
    Vailas eclipsed 3,000 career total offense yards in the Nov. 2 game at William & Mary, when he recorded 122 passing yards and 19 rushing yards to increase his total to 3,071. He also reached 1,000 yards total offense for the season in that game. Vailas' current numbers are 1,400 total offense for the season and 3,452 for his career.
    Sophomore quarterback Sean Goldrich surpassed 2,500 career total offense yards at William & Mary. With 106 passing yards and 11 rushing yards vs. the Tribe, Goldrich increased his total to 2,581.

CLEAN LIVING:  UNH is No. 8 in the nation in both penalties/game (4.2) and penalty yards/game (37.6). The season didn't start that way for the Wildcats, who averaged 6.25 penalties and  54.3 penalty yards per game through its 1-3 start. In contrast, the 'Cats are 4-1 the past five games with averages of 2.6 penalties for 24.2 yards. That stretch began Oct. 12 when UNH was called for one penalty (10 yards) in the win against Rhode Island and was not penalized in the Villanova victory. One week later, New Hampshire was flagged three times for 15 yards in a win at Stony Brook. The penalties are back on the upward swing the past two weeks, however, with 5-35 at William & Mary and 4-61 against James Madison.

NOVEMBER REIGN:  New Hampshire has not had a losing record in November since 2007, when the 'Cats went 1-3 (including a postseason loss). UNH had winning marks in 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011, and went 1-1 last November.

TACKLING THE TRIBE:   UNH's defense shut out William & Mary in the first and fourth quarters, and the Wildcats surrendered a season-low 14 first downs.

IT HAD BEEN A WHILE:  New Hampshire was held below 100 rushing yards for the first time in 2013 when the Wildcats had 26 carries for 84 yards at William & Mary (Nov. 2). The previous time UNH didn't amass at least 100 rushing yards in a game was the 2012 NCAA playoff game at Wofford (34 carries, 73 yards). The game at W&M also marked season lows in rushes (26).

IT HAD BEEN A LONG WHILE:  UNH's 17-0 loss at William & Mary marked the first time since Sept. 23, 1995 that the Wildcats were shut out. The Tribe was also the opponent that date.

VALUING POSSESSION: UNH entered November ranked second in the CAA in turnover margin at +2, but the Wildcats committed three turnovers and was -3 at William & Mary; it is New Hampshire's worst turnover margin this season, and that game marked the second time in 2013 the UNH defense did not record a turnover.

BACK IN OCTOBER:  UNH went 3-1 in October and closed the month with three consecutive wins. Nico Steriti was the top rusher with 63 carries for 327 yards (5.2 yards/carry) and three TDs. Sean Goldrich had a 153.53 pass efficiency rating by completing 60 of 92 attempts (65.2%) for 716 yards and seven TDs with just one interception. Justin Mello was the top target through the air with 23 catches for 281 yards and five touchdowns.

DEFENSIVE CLAMPS:  UNH's defense forced three turnovers (two interceptions, one fumble) Oct. 26 at Stony Brook, which tied the season high established Oct. 5 at Towson and matched Oct. 12 vs. Rhode Island. The Wildcats limited Stony Brook to 286 yards of offense to mark the second-lowest total by an opponent in 2013; the 'Cats held Colgate to 278 yards in the Sept. 14 home opener.

LIFE AFTER COCCIA: Oct. 26 at Stony Brook marked the first game the Wildcats were without Mike Coccia at center since Dec. 10, 2010. Coccia started the first 30 games of his collegiate career, but he underwent season-ending shoulder surgery Oct. 21. Redshirt freshman Tad McNeely has taken over at center with classmate Alexander Morrill settling in at left guard.

GOLDRICH STRIKES GOLD: Sophomore quarterback Sean Goldrich was feted as the Ray Gallant Insurance New England Football Writers' Gridiron Club of Boston Gold Helmet Award recipient for the week of Oct. 21. The announcement followed Goldrich's outstanding performance in the Wildcats' come-from-behind 29-28 upset victory against then-No. 12 Villanova on Oct. 19. The signal caller, who made his second straight start, matched a career high with 21 completions (in 28 attempts), threw for 236 yards and accounted for three touchdowns – two rushing, one passing. He even made his first career catch on a 15-yard pass from Jared Allison.

CROSSAN NAMED CAA ROOKIE OF WEEK (OCT. 21): UNH redshirt freshman Dalton Crossan was named the CAA Rookie of the Week, the league announced Oct. 21. Crossan rushed five times for 41 yards and scored UNH's first touchdown on a 17-yard carry as part of the No. 25/23 Wildcats' 29-28 victory against No. 12/11 Villanova at Cowell Stadium. The RB added a 16-yard reception and returned two kickoffs for 46 yards. His 35-yard kick return, coupled with a VU personal-foul penalty, allowed New Hampshire to begin its game-winning drive at the 50 with 1:02 remaining in the fourth quarter.

DOUBLE DEFENSIVE TDs: UNH notched a pair of defensive touchdowns in a 59-19 victory against URI on Oct. 12, with CB Steven Thames returning an INT 11 yards for a score and DE Cam Shorey rumbling 44 yards for a fumble-return score. It was the first time in the 15-year Coach Mac Era that the Wildcats returned both an interception and a fumble for a TD in the same game.
    It marked the first time the Wildcats reeled off two defensive TDs in the same game since Sept. 24, 2011, Randi Vines tallied a 60-yard Pick Six and Matt Evans recorded a 31-yards Pick Six in a 45-43 win at Richmond.

NATION-LEADING NINE STRAIGHT FCS POSTSEASONS:      UNH has qualified for the NCAA FCS Championship tournament for nine consecutive years, the longest span in the nation. Here is a breakdown of UNH's all-time postseason record (home games in BOLD), beginning with its lone bowl appearance in 1947 at the Glass Bowl:
Year     Game    Opponent    Result
1947    Glass Bowl    Toledo    L, 14-20
1975    D-II Quarterfinals    Lehigh    W, 35-21
1975    D-II Semifinals     W. Kentucky    L, 3-14
1976    D-II Quarterfinals    Montana State    L, 16-17    
1991    I-AA First Round    Samford    L, 13-29
1994    I-AA First Round    App. State    L,10-17(OT)
2004    I-AA First Round    Ga. Southern    W, 27-23
2004    I-AA Quarterfinals    Montana    L, 17-47
2005    I-AA First Round    Colgate    W, 55-21
2005    I-AA Quarterfinals    Northern Iowa    L, 21-24
2006    FCS First Round    Hampton    W, 41-38
2006    FCS Quarterfinals    UMass    L, 17-24
2007    FCS First Round    Northern Iowa    L, 35-38
2008    FCS First Round    Southern Illinois    W, 29-20
2008    FCS Quarterfinals    Northern Iowa    L, 34-36
2009    FCS First Round    McNeese State    W, 49-13
2009    FCS Quarterfinals    Villanova    L, 7-46
2010    FCS Second Round    Bethune-Cook.    W, 45-20
2010    FCS Quarterfinals    Delaware    L, 3-16
2011    FCS Second Round    Montana State    L, 25-26
2012    FCS Second Round    Wofford    L, 7-23
Total Record: 7-14        •           Coach McDonnell Record: 6-9

SNAKEBIT SECONDARY: The Wildcats have dealt with more than their fare share of injury issues in the defensive backfield. It dates back to Sept. 22, 2012, when free safety Chris Beranger suffered a career-ending concussion. Beranger, now a senior, was coming off a 2011 sophomore season in which he amassed 142 tackles, the fourth-most in school history. Also in 2011, cornerback Chris Houston led the CAA with six interceptions.
    Fast forward to 2013, and Houston has yet to see game action while dealing with a Lisfranc injury (midfoot). Sophomore safety Hayden Knudson suffered a broken foot Oct. 5 on the same day he set a career high with 12 tackles, and redshirt freshman cornerback Casey DeAndrade is currently hobbled with a broken right hand.

NON-CONFERENCE HOME DOMINANCE: Under Coach Mac, the Wildcats improved to 18-1 in regular-season non-conference games at Cowell Stadium courtesy of a 53-23 defeat of Colgate on Sept. 14.  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 16 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 11 straight non-conference home victories.

BROTHERHOOD:  At Central Michigan on Sept. 7, junior linebacker Shane McNeely and redshirt freshman offensive lineman Tad McNeely became the first brothers to start in the same game for UNH since linebacker Husain Karim and safety Muji Karim on Dec. 3, 2006.
    In that same game, junior QB Andy Vailas completed a 10-yard pass to his brother, Jimmy Vailas, in the first quarter at Central Michigan on Sept. 7. It was Jimmy's first career catch in his first collegiate appearance as a tight end.

PRESEASON CAA POLL: UNH, which shared the 2012 CAA championship and qualified for the NCAA Division I Championship tournament for a nation-leading ninth straight season, was picked to finish third in the CAA preseason poll.  The CAA preseason poll was determined by a vote among league head coaches and media personnel.
School    First-Place Votes
1    Villanova    11
2    Towson    3
3    UNH    3
4    Richmond    1
5    James Madison    4
6    Delaware    
7    Stony Brook    
8    Maine    
9    William & Mary    
10 Albany    
11 Rhode Island

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