DURHAM, N.H. – Playing before a Homecoming crowd of 18,412, Sean Goldrich (West Haven, Conn.) passed for two touchdowns and ran for another in his first start of the season to propel the No. 25/22 University of New Hampshire football team to Saturday afternoon's 59-19 victory over Rhode Island at Cowell Stadium.
UNH snapped a two-game losing streak to up its record to 2-3, 1-1 in the CAA. URI dropped to 2-5, 1-3.
Goldrich went 18-for-26 for 241 yards to go along with a career-high 94 rushing yards on 14 attempts.
Nico Steriti (Toms River, N.J.) registered his eighth career 100-yard rushing performance –and second of the season-- after carrying 15 times for 150 yards and a pair of TDs as part of the Wildcats' season-high 333 rushing yards on 43 carries (7.7 yards/rush).
Akil Anderson (Morristown, N.J.) paced a balanced defensive effort with eight tackles (six solo), including a sack. Shane McNeely (Whitehall, Pa.) tallied five stops and a sack as the UNH defense held Rhody to 115 rushing yards (2.8 yards/carry).
UNH went on a 38-point spurt to break the game open. Leading 14-12 late in the second quarter, Goldrich's first touchdown pass of the day was a 6-yard hookup with Justin Mello (Dartmouth, Mass.) with 3:29 left in the half. Mello finished with four receptions for 47 yards, which leaves him with 999 career receiving yards.
Mike MacArthur (North Hampton, N.H.) bumped the advantage to 24-12 with a 24-yard field goal 32 seconds prior to intermission. MacArthur's 40th career field goal elevated him into a tie with Connor McCormick (2002-05) for UNH's all-time FG lead.
New Hampshire outscored Rhode Island, 35-7, in the second half. Goldrich raced for a 24-yard TD with 12:40 left in the third to build the lead to 31-12. Steriti's 8-yard scamper capped a 10-play, 80-yard drive for a 38-12 lead with 8:03 left in the third.
The Wildcats' defense recorded two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Steven Thames (Fort Washington, Md./four tackles) returned an interception 11 yards for a score that increased the lead to 45-12 with 13:05 remaining, and Cam Shorey (Calais, Maine) scooped up a fumble and rumbled 44 yards for a TD with 5:46 left to complete the scoring.
Harold Spears (Perkasie, Pa./two catches-38 yards, TD) nabbed Goldrich's second touchdown pass of the day with a 21-yard reception at 10:46 of the fourth; the tight end's team-leading fourth touchdown catch of the season staked the Wildcats to a 52-12 lead.
URI tallied its final points on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Kolt Peavey (5-for-7, 72 yards, TD) to Robbie Jackson (nine catches-111 yards, two TDs) with 7:01 remaining.
Rhode Island opened the scoring on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Bob Bentsen (21-for-37, 220 yards, two TDs, INT) to Jackson with 4:45 left in the first quarter. The 2-point attempt failed, so URI held a 6-0 lead. It was the first game this season in which UNH failed to score first.
The 'Cats erased their only deficit of the contest on Steriti's 54-yard TD rush for a 7-6 lead with 36 seconds remaining in the first.
Chris Setian (East Longmeadow, Mass./three carries-nine yards, TD) increased the lead to 14-6 on a 3-yard touchdown with 9:50 left in the second quarter.
Bentsen drew the Rams within 14-12 on a 26-yard scoring strike to Jawaun Wynn (six catches-60 yards, TD), but Rhode Island's 2-point attempt failed with 5:45 left in the half.
UNH, which improved to 24-2 in its last 26 home games, welcomes No. 15/15 Villanova to Cowell Stadium on Saturday, Oct. 19 (12 p.m.). The game will be televised live on Comcast SportsNet New England. For tickets, visit www.unhwildcats.com or call (603) 862-4000, extension 5.