Football Celebrates Record-Setting Season at Team Banquet
DURHAM, N.H. – Wide receiver Justin Mello (Dartmouth, Mass.) and safety Manny Asam (Bloomfield, N.J.) of the University of New Hampshire football team were named the offensive and defensive most valuable players during the annual team banquet, which was held Sunday at the Memorial Union Building on the UNH campus.
Mello, who started all 15 games at WR, enjoyed a career year as a senior by registering 73 receptions for a team-leading 1,038 yards and a CAA-leading 10 touchdown receptions. He ranked sixth in the CAA in receiving yards/game (69.2) and ninth in receptions/game (4.87). Mello, who earned a berth on the CAA All-Conference Third Team, posted four 100-yard receiving games with career highs in both catches (10) and yards (123) in a 33-17 home win against James Madison on Nov. 9. The native of Dartmouth, Mass., tallied a career-high three TD receptions in a 31-13 victory at Stony Brook on Oct. 26.
Asam, a member of the All-CAA Third Team, started all 15 games at strong safety and amassed 66 solo tackles, which shared team-high honors. Asam totaled 101 tackles -- including 7.0 for loss -- one sack and eight pass breakups. The co-captain notched four double-digit tackle performances, including a season-high 11 stops at Central Michigan (Sept. 7), at Albany (Nov. 16) and at North Dakota State (Dec. 20).
The Bill Bowes Coaches Award was bestowed upon running back Chris Setian (East Longmeadow, Mass.). The senior co-captain, who saw action in 14 games, ranked second on the squad with 458 rushing yards (on 90 carries) and tied for the team lead with eight rushing touchdowns. He tacked on 17 receptions for 134 yards (7.9 yards/catch) with a TD, and on special teams he compiled 11 tackles, a forced fumble and a blocked kick. Against Villanova on Oct. 19, Setian recorded a career-best 88 rushing yards on 12 carries and scored the game-winning 2-point conversion with 14 seconds left in a 29-28 victory.
Defensive tackle Sean McCann (Avon Lake, Ohio) garnered the Jack French Unsung Hero Award. McCann started all 15 games and led all Wildcat linemen in tackles (59) and all DTs in solo tackles (30). He notched eight tackles for loss, five sacks, two fumble recoveries, one forced fumble and a blocked kick. McCann twice equaled a personal best with seven tackles at Stony Brook and at Southeastern Louisiana (Dec. 14).
The Bob Demers 12th Player Award was presented to defensive end Cody Muller (Telford, Pa.), who totaled 54 tackles, including 32 solo, with 10 tackles for loss and 6.5 sacks while starting all 15 games.
Seamus O'Neill (Manchester, N.H.) was feted with the Bo Dickson Spirit Award. The co-captain earned All-CAA Third Team honors after his third straight year as the starting left tackle. He anchored an offensive line for a unit that ranked third in the CAA in scoring (30.8 points/game), third in rushing offense (192.9 yards/game) and fourth in passing offense (239.5 yards/game).
Chris Houston (Harrisburg, Pa.) was the recipient of the Buck Buchanan Distinguished Service Award after providing leadership despite missing the entire season due to a Lisfranc injury (foot).
The team's Eugene K. Auerbach Student-Athlete Award was presented to Mike MacArthur (North Hampton, N.H.), a four-year starter at place kicker who graduated with a cumulative 3.50 grade point average with a degree in Nutrition. MacArthur is a four-year member of the CAA Academic All-Conference Team and a four-time recipient of the CAA Commissioner's Academic Award. In 2014, he connected on 15 of 20 field goals (75 percent) with a long of 43 yards.
The team also awarded its official game balls for each victory of the 2013 season:
•vs Colgate, Sept. 14: Tim Farina (Campton, N.H.) returned a kickoff 25 yards and tallied a special-teams tackle in a season-opening, 53-23 victory over the Raiders.
•vs Rhode Island, Oct. 12: Jimmy Vailas (Bedford, N.H.) was honored for his defensive and special teams efforts in a 59-19 homecoming victory against the Rams.
•vs Villanova, Oct. 19: Setian was honored for his career-high 88 rushing yards and the game-winning 2-point conversion in a 29-28 victory.
•at Stony Brook, Oct. 26: Mello scored a career-high three TDs as part of an eight-catch, 110-yard outburst in a 31-13 win.
•vs James Madison, Nov. 9: O'Neill earned the distinction for helping the 'Cats amass 535 yards of total offense and 24 first downs in a 33-17 defeat of the Dukes.
•at Albany, Nov. 16: Steve Collister (Rochester, N.Y.) was rewarded for his solid long snapping in a 37-20 win over the Great Danes.
•vs Maine, Nov. 23: McCann tallied two sacks and a fumble recovery as the Wildcats retained possession of the Brice-Cowell Musket with a 24-3 victory.
•vs Lafayette, Nov. 30: Sean Ryan (Londonderry, N.H.) was honored for his offensive line play as the Wildcats compiled 551 yards in a 45-7 win over the Leopards in UNH's first home playoff game since 2005.
•at Maine, Dec. 7: MacArthur went 2-for-2 in field goals, with a season-long of 43 yards, and successfully converted five PATs in a 41-27 NCAA second-round victory against the Black Bears.
•at Southeastern Louisiana, Dec. 14: Jay Colbert (Langhorne, Pa.) compiled four tackles in the Wildcats' first-ever NCAA D-I quarterfinal win, 20-17, over the Lions.
The 2013 Wildcats (10-5) qualified for the NCAA Division I FCS Championship tournament for the 10th straight season, which is the longest streak in the nation. UNH set school records by winning three playoff games in a single postseason and advancing to the D-I semifinals for the first time ever.
New Hampshire closed the season ranked fifth nationally, which matches the best year-end ranking in University history, and the 'Cats own the country's longest streak of consecutive weeks ranked (140), a stretch that dates back to Sept. 13, 2004.
For more information on the UNH football team, visit www.unhwildcats.com.