No. 15/15 New Hampshire (7-4, 6-2 CAA) vs Lafayette (5-6, 4-1 Patriot League)
Nov. 30, 2013 • 12 p.m. • Cowell Stadium • Durham, N.H.
Radio: Wildcat Sports Radio Network
Bob Lipman (play-by-play) • Chris Chandler (analyst)
Online Broadcast: ESPN3 (watch here)
Wayne Randazzo (play-by-play) • John Gregory (analyst) • Cat Whitehill (sideline reporter)
New Hampshire is unbeaten in five home games at Cowell Stadium, a.k.a The Dungeon, this season. The Wildcats have outscored the opposition 198-90 and have scored more than 50 points in a game twice – season-high 59 vs. Rhode Island (Oct. 12) and 53 vs. Colgate (Sept. 14).
Since the start of the 2007 season, the Wildcats are 33-4 at Cowell Stadium. The 'Cats have recorded wins in 14 of their last 15 home games and are 24-2 in their last 26 matchups in the Dungeon – that includes perfect marks in both 2011 (5-0) and 2009 (6-0).
Both UNH and Lafayette overcame slow starts to the season. UNH has won six of its last seven games – all in CAA conference play – while Lafayette went 4-1 down the stretch and closed the season with consecutive wins against nationally-ranked teams.
UNH is making a national-best 10th consecutive appearance in the FCS Championship. The Wildcats have a 6-9 record during this streak with a 5-1 record in first round games. The 'Cats have not played a first round game since 2009 (49-13 win at McNeese State).
This is UNH's first playoff home game since a 24-21 loss to Northern Iowa in the 2005 quarterfinals. The Wildcats have a 1-1 home record during the current 10-year streak and are 1-3 overall in home postseason games.
New Hampshire is making its 12th overall appearance in the FCS tournament. The Wildcats have a 6-11 tourney record.
A total of eight Wildcats received CAA All-Conference Team accolades. Junior wide receiver R.J. Harris was named to the First Team for the second consecutive year. Two 'Cats were voted to the Second Team and five were Third Team selections.
UNH has a 5-1 lifetime record vs. Lafayette but the programs have not met since the Wildcats' 21-19 home win in 1987.
Redshirt freshman defensive back Casey DeAndrade was named CAA Football Rookie of the Week on Monday (Nov. 25). He recorded a career-high seven tackles, one pass breakup and his second career interception to help UNH defeat (then) No. 4 Maine, 24-3 in the Nov. 23 regular-season finale.
UNH vs. Lafayette All-Time Series: New Hampshire has a 5-1 lifetime record against Lafayette College, but these programs have not met since the 1987 season, when the Wildcats were 21-19 victors at Cowell Stadium. UNH has a 2-1 home record vs. the Leopards, whose lone victory in the series occurred in September 1985.
Date H/A UNH LC W L Result
11/08/80 H 26 6 1 0 W
11/07/81 A 21 18 2 0 W
09/15/84 A 21 7 3 0 W
09/14/85 H 7 20 3 1 L
10/11/86 A 20 16 4 1 W
10/24/87 H 21 19 5 1 W
SCOUTING THE LEOPARDS: Lafayette College (Easton, Pa.) enters the NCAA tournament with a 5-6 overall record that includes 4-1 in the Patriot League and 3-3 on the road. The Leopards earned the automatic berth out of the Patriot League as its conference champion and they are the first team with a losing record to advance to the NCAAs.
Lafayette closed the season on a strong note by going 4-1 the last five weeks. The Leopards ended the regular season with consecutive wins against (then) No. 5 Fordham, 27-14, on Nov. 16 and (then) No. 15 Lehigh, 50-28., on Nov. 23.
In the past five weeks, LC has scored 191 points to average 38.2 per game. In comparison, the Leopards averaged 20.7 ppg the first six games,when they went 1-5.
Lafayette has outscored the opposition in both the first (81-65) and third (83-38) quarters, but opponents have the scoring edge in both the second (97-72) and fourth (91-75) quarters.
The Leopards rank No. 2 in the nation in kickoff returns with an average of 26.60 yards/return.
Players to Watch: Junior tailback Ross Scheuerman leads the Patriot League and is No. 7 in the nation in all-purpose yards with 160.55 yards per game. He has 204 carries for 1,034 yards as well as 30 catches for 311 yards; Scheuerman also has 15 kickoff returns for 421 yards for a total of 1,766 all-purpose yards. Scheuerman has a total of 18 TDs with 14 on the ground and four through the air.
Mark Ross is the top receiver with 68 catches for 1,047 yards and eight receiving TDs. He ranks 16th in the nation in receiving yards and is 18th in receiving yards per game (95.2).
Freshman quarterback Drew Reed completed 20 of 27 passes for 378 yards and three TDs in the regular-season finale, a 50-28 win at Lehigh. In seven games, he has a 196.91 pass efficiency rating by completing 112 of 152 passes (73.7%) for 1,681 yards and 17 TDs.
Ryan Gralish has been one of the most accurate field goal kickers. He has made 9 of 11 field goal attempts to rank No. 14 in the nation with a .818 percentage; Gralish is also 36-for-38 on PATs.
Matt Smalley is one of the top kickoff returners in the country. At 31.0 yards per return, he ranks fifth overall and is best in the Patriot League.
NATION-LEADING 10 STRAIGHT FCS POSTSEASONS: UNH has qualified for the NCAA FCS Championship tournament for 10 consecutive years, the longest streak 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-Cookman 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
2013 FCS First Round Lehigh
Total Record: 7-14 • Coach McDonnell Record: 6-9
Eight 'Cats Feted By CAA: A total of eight Wildcats received CAA All-Conference recognition on Tuesday. Junior wide receiver R.J. Harris headlined the list with a repeat selection to the First Team. Senior offensive lineman Ricky Archer (The Plains, Va.) and junior running back Nico Steriti (Toms River, N.J.) were named to the Second Team. The Third Team included sophomore linebacker Akil Anderson, senior safety Manny Asam, senior wide receiver Justin Mello, senior offensive lineman Seamus O'Neill and junior tight end Harold Spears.
WHEN UNH HAS THE BALL: New Hampshire is averaging 31.1 points and 435.2 yards per game with a balanced attack of 196.8 rushing yards per game and 238.4 passing yards per game.
Junior wide receiver R.J. Harris and senior WR Justin Mello highlight the offense. Mello leads the team in catches (58), receiving yards (797) and receiving TDs (eight). Harris, a CAA All-Conference First Team, ranks second in receptions (46), receiving yards (603) and receiving TDs (four).
The ground game is led by junior running back Nico Steriti, an All-Conference Second Team selection. He has 152 carries for 826 yards and seven TDs.
Junior Andy Vailas and sophomore Sean Goldrich have split the quarterback duties and have alternated starts the past four games (with Vailas getting the nod in the regular-season finale vs. Maine).
Vailas started the first four games of the season and has six starts in eight games played; he has a 122.50 passer efficiency on 130 of 218 passing for 1,397 yards and nine TDs.
Goldrich, who also had four consecutive starts and five overall in 10 games played, has a 142.60 passer rating on 90-for-146 for 1,125 yards and nine TDs.
When the Opponent Has the Ball: UNH allows 22.0 points and 412.8 yards per game. The Wildcats yield 171.5 rushing yards and 241.4 passing yards per game.
Junior linebacker Shane McNeely leads the team in tackles (89) with 48 unassisted tackles and 41 assisted tackles. He has been credited with four sacks, two forced fumbles and one fumble recovery, and he has two interceptions.
Sophomore linebacker Akil Anderson, an All-Conference Third Team honoree, has a team-high 51 unassisted tackles and is second in total tackles (85). He also leads the team in tackles for a loss (11), which includes five sacks.
Senior safety Manny Asam, another Third Team selection, ranks third in tackles (73) with 49 unassisted tackles and 24 assisted tackles.
Redshirt freshman defensive back Casey DeAndrade is second in the nation in pass breakups with 17. He is also tied for fourth on the team in tackles (51).
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.
The Musket Stays in Durham: The 21st-ranked UNH football team retained the Brice-Cowell Musket with a 24-3 victory against (then) No. 4-ranked Maine in the Nov. 23 regular-season finale at Cowell Stadium. It marked the third consecutive year and 10th time in 11 years the Wildcats defeated the Black Bears to win the battle for the musket.
The 'Cats took a 7-0 lead at 7:02 of the first quarter on a five-yard pass from Andy Vailas to Jordan Powell for his first career TD reception. Mike MacArthur extended the advantage to 10-0 with a 25-yard field goal at 9:52 and the visitors closed within 10-3 on a 27-yard FG with nine seconds remaining in the half. A Sean Goldrich to Jimmy Giansante six-yard TD connection made it 17-3 at 3:13 of the third quarter and Nico Steriti closed the scoring with a 68-yard TD run at 13:01 of the fourth quarter.
Steriti finished with 18 carries for 139 yards as the 'Cats had 50 rushes for 213 yards and 331 yards of total offense. R.J. Harris was the top aerial threat with six catches for 72 yards.
UNH's defense limited Maine, which entered the game averaging 440.2 yards and 32.5 points per game, to 315 total yards and three points. The Wildcats shut out the Black Bears in the second half on 134 yards of offense and recorded a season-high five sacks overall.
Manny Asam and Akil Anderson tied for the team lead with eight tackles. Casey DeAndrade recorded a career-high seven tackles and his second interception of the season, and Sean McCann tallied two sacks and a fumble recovery.
Maine Milestones: Junior RB Nico Steriti eclipsed the 2,000-yard rushing career mark and 1,000 all-purpose yards for the season in the regular-season finale against the Black Bears. He finished with 139 rushing yards and 10 receiving yards to increase his career rushing total to 2,117 and season all-purpose yardage mark to 1,088.
R.J. Harris supplanted Mike Boyle for sixth place on UNH's career receiving yards with 72 against Maine. Harris enters the NCAA postseason with 2,376 career receiving yards; Boyle finished with 2,317.
With a 25-yard field goal in the second quarter against the Black Bears, Mike MacArthur climbed into a three-way tie for fifth place on the CAA career leaderboard with his 48th field goal.
Turnover Battle: UNH did not commit a turnover the last two games of the regular season against Albany and Maine and turned the ball over just once the previous game vs. James Madison. The Wildcats' defense gained a pair of turnovers all three of those games.
UNH has won the turnover battle in five of 11 games and is 4-1 in those games (the lone loss was at Lehigh with a +2 margin). The 'Cats lost the turnover battle four times and went 1-3 in those games (only win vs. Colgate at -1).
Deductive reasoning leads to a draw in the turnover battle twice with New Hampshire winning those back-to-back games vs. Rhode Island and Villanova.
Overall, UNH has not committed a turnover in 5 of 11 games and the defense has recorded at least one turnover in 9 of 11 games with eight multiple-turnover efforts.
Return To Running Form: In the last two regular-season games (at Albany, vs. Maine), the Wildcats ran the ball 88 times for 391 yards. In the finale against the Black Bears, UNH had 50 carries – second highest total to the 51 vs. Villanova (Oct. 19) – for 213 yards. It marked the fifth time this season the 'Cats eclipsed 200 rushing yards in a game.
UNH ran the ball 38 times for 178 yards (4.7 yards/carry) at Albany. That exceeded the combined total of 170 running yards the previous two games against William & Mary (84) and James Madison (86) and marked the team's best yards per carry since the fifth game of the year vs. Rhode Island (season-best 7.7 yards/carry).
Sack Exchange: The New Hampshire defense recorded a season-high five sacks in the regular-season finale against fourth-ranked Maine. It marked the seventh consecutive game the 'Cats tallied at least three sacks; the streak dates back to Oct. 12 vs. Rhode Island.
How Low Can You Go: UNH held Maine's rushing attack to 95 yards – the lowest by an opponent this season and the Black Bears' 315 total yards marked the third lowest total allowed in 2013. The last time the Wildcats held an opponent to less than 100 rushing yards was Oct. 20, 2012, when once again it was Maine with 95 yards on the ground.
Conversion Rates: The Wildcats were highly proficient at third down conversions the last three weeks of the season and that included 10-for-17 (58.8%) Nov. 9 vs. James Madison. In the three week span, UNH converted 24 of 52 third downs (46.2%) and also went 2-for-2 on fourth down. UNH's defense, meanwhile, did not allow opponents to extend drives by allowing just seven first downs on 30 third downs (23.3%) the last two weeks against Albany and Maine.
Capital Milestones: A handful of Wildcats recorded personal milestones in the Nov. 16 game at Albany. Senior placekicker Mike MacArthur climbed two spots to No. 7 on the CAA career leaderboard for field goals made with three FGs at Albany, which increased his total to 47. With 85 receiving yards vs. Albany, junior wide receiver R.J. Harris increased his career total to 2,304 to climb past Keith LeVan (2,234) into No. 7 on the program's leaderboard.
Junior running back Nico Steriti eclipsed 3,000 career all-purpose yards with 78 (19 rush yds, 59 kickoff return yds) against the Great Danes. He currently leads all 'Cats with a total of 3,023 all-purpose yards.
Sophomore quarterback Sean Goldrich surpassed 1,000 passing yards for the season during a 114-yard effort in Albany. That number increased Goldrich's season total to 1,087 passing yards.
He. Could. Go. All. The. Way: In the Nov. 16 game at Albany, redshirt freshman running back Dalton Crossan recorded a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to give UNH a 34-20 lead at 8:04 of the fourth quarter. Prior to Crossan, the Wildcats' most recent kickoff return for a TD occurred Sept. 4, 2010, when Terrance Fox scored on a 91-yard return.
Career Highs: Led by Akil Anderson and Shane McNeely, a total of six Wildcats recorded career highs in tackles at Albany. Both linebackers tallied a team-high 12 tackles vs. the Great Danes. Defensive end Jay Colbert finished with a personal-best seven tackles, as did defensive tackle Sean McCann and safety Tre Williams, who also registered his first career sack.
Out of Character: New Hampshire was penalized 11 times for 137 yards in the 37-20 win at Albany on Nov. 16. In contrast, the Wildcats were called for a total of 13 penalties for 121 yards the previous five games (spanning Oct. 12 to Nov. 9). That stretch began with one penalty for 10 yards against Rhode Island and the 'Cats were not penalized the next game vs. Villanova. In the Nov. 23 regular-season finale vs. Maine, UNH was penalized once (for five yards).
The previous time UNH recorded 100+ penalty yards in a game was Sept. 24, 2011 vs. Richmond (106).
STERITI RUNNING PAST 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 eclipsed 2,000 career yards during a 139-yard ground game vs. Maine (Nov. 23).
UNH All-Time Leading Rushers
1. Jerry Azumah (1995-98) 6,193
7. Chad Kackert (2006-09) 2,587
8. Avrom Smith (1991-94) 2,237
9. Nico Steriti (2011-present) 2,117
HARRIS AMONG BEST IN SCHOOL HISTORY: Junior WR R.J. Harris climbed one spot on the UNH career receiving yards leaderboard each of the last three weeks of the regular season and is currently No. 6.
Harris ascended to sixth place for UNH's all-time receptions list following a 10-catch, 170-yard performance in a win against James Madison on Nov. 9. He will move into the Top 5 with two more.
1. David Ball (2003-06) 4,655
5. Chris Braune (1986-89) 2,612
6. R.J. Harris (2011-present) 2,376
1. David Ball (2003-06) 304
4. John Perry (1989-92) 191
5. David Gamble (1990-93) 182
6. R.J. Harris (2011-present) 180
MONEY MIKE IS ALL-TIME FG KING: Senior 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.
He matched his personal best of three FGs in a game with makes of 31, 33 and 34 yards Nov. 16 at Albany, and he vaulted into seventh place on the conference leaderboard.
MacArthur then climbed into a three-way tie for fifth place with a 25-yard field goal vs. Maine. 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
2. 55 Andrew Howard Richmond 2006-09
3. 50 Chris Onorato Hofstra 2000-04
4. 49 Rob Zarrilli Hofstra 2005-07
T-5. 48 Mike MacArthur UNH 2010-13
T-5. 48 Miro Kesic Northeastern 2002-05
T-5. 48 Brian Shallcross W&M 1994-97
DOUBLING UP: R.J. Harris (183) and Justin Mello (123) became the first UNH duo to exceed 100 receiving yards in the same game (Nov. 9 vs. James Madison) 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. 9. 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).
Quarterback 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.
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.
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.
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. UNH is assured of another winning mark in 2013 with a 3-1 ledger entering Saturday's postseason game.
CAREER DAY FOR 'CATS VS. JMU: Junior quarterback Andy Vailas completed 28 of 49 assists for 397 yards – all career highs – Nov. 9 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.
Senior safety Manny Asam eclipsed 200 career tackles during his six-tackle effort against James Madison (Nov. 9). He currently has 205 tackles.
Senior defensive tackle Sean McCann eclipsed 100 career tackles with the first of his three tackles Nov. 9 against James Madison. He currently has 102 tackles.
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.