No. 25/23 New Hampshire (2-3, 1-1 CAA) vs No. 12/11 Villanova (4-2, 3-0 CAA)
Oct. 19, 2013 • 12:00 p.m. • Cowell Stadium • Durham, N.H.
Real 'Cats Wear Pink
Game Sponsors: Wentworth-Douglass Hospital • Northeast Delta Dental
TV: CSN-NE • CSN-MA • CSN-P • CSS
(SNY Tape Delay)
Scott Graham (play-by-play) • Andy Gresh (analyst)
Radio: Wildcat Sports Radio Network
Bob Lipman (play-by-play) • Chris Chandler (analyst)
Live Stats: http://livestats.prestosports.com/unhwildcats/
•Junior RB Nico Steriti has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in two of the past three games. With 1,748 career rushing yards –including eight career 100-yard games—Steriti is within 179 yards of cracking UNH's all-time Top-10.
•UNH and Villanova meet for the 23rd time as Wildcat rivals. The all-time series is deadlocked at 11-11; 'Nova is the only opponent that has squared off with New Hampshire at least 20 times in which the all-time series is dead even.
•Villanova has not won at Cowell Stadium since Sept. 13, 2003, when it registered a 48-14 victory.
•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.
•Junior WR R.J. Harris climbed into an eighth-place tie for all-time receptions (160) and ninth place on UNH's all-time receiving yards list (2,036) following a four-catch, 44-yard performance in a win against URI on Oct. 12.
•Senior place kicker Mike MacArthur moved into a tie with Connor McCormick (2002-05) for UNH's all-time lead in field goals by connecting for the 40th of his career, a 24-yard kick late in the first half of an Oct. 12 win over Rhode Island. Money Mike, who is a perfect 15-for-15 in PATs this season, needs one more FG to become the first Wildcat to ever reach the CAA's Top 10.
•Since the start of the 2007 season, the Wildcats are 31-4 at Cowell Stadium. The 'Cats have recorded wins in 12 of their last 13 home games and are 24-2 in their last 26 matchups in the Dungeon.
•Junior punter Brad Prasky paces the CAA with an average punt of 43.8 yards, which includes a 62-yarder, seven punts inside the opponents' 20 and seven punts of 50 yards or more.
Last Meeting: Oct. 8, 2011 -
DURHAM, N.H.- Kevin Decker passed for a career-high 395 yards, threw three touchdown passes and rushed for another to lead sixth-ranked UNH to a 47-17 victory over Villanova before a crowd of 5,760 at Cowell Stadium.
UNH earned its fourth consecutive win to up its record to 4-1, 1-0 in the CAA. Villanova dropped to 1-5 overall, 0-3 in the CAA.
Decker went 23 of 32, matching a career high for completions by spreading the ball to nine different receivers. The senior signal caller recorded TD passes to R.J. Harris, Justin Mello and Jimmy Giansante, helping UNH amass a season-best 401 passing yards and 557 total yards.
Harris notched his third 100-yard receiving day of the season, accumulating a career-high 190 yards, just 23 shy of the CAA freshman record, on a team-leading seven receptions. His team-best fourth scoring catch came on the longest pass play of the season, a 66-yard heave from Decker on a post pattern with 3:27 left in the first quarter to help the home Wildcats build a 15-0 lead.
Mello made his one catch of the day count, corralling a 35-yard touchdown reception with 6:11 left in the second quarter to push UNH's lead to 24-3.
Giansante (three catches-58 yards, TD) snared a 16-yard scoring strike early in the fourth quarter, increasing the Wildcats' lead to 44-10 with 13:42 remaining in the contest. Decker (six rushes-46 yards, TD) got the scoring started by rushing for a three-yard touchdown, his sixth, just 2:45 into the opening stanza, putting the finishing touches on an eight-play, 80-yard drive. He then kept it himself for the successful two-point conversion and an 8-0 UNH lead.
Brian McNally spearheaded New Hampshire's best defensive showing of the season, racking up a career-high 3.5 sacks as the 'Cats held 'Nova to 277 yards of offense and forced three turnovers. Chris Houston made six tackles, forced a fumble and notched his first career interception.
Rod Walker also picked off the first pass of his career, returning the INT 42 yards to the Villanova 6. That set the stage for Dontra Peters (nine rushes-30 yards, TD), who scampered in for a six-yard score with 12:31 left in the third period, staking UNH to a commanding 34-10 following the PAT.
New Hampshire forced its other turnover on the first play of the fourth quarter when Jared Smith forced a fumble that was recovered by James Jenkins.
Mike MacArthur improved to 7-for-7 in field-goal attempts this season by connecting on all three of his attempts: a 24-yarder in the second quarter, giving UNH an 18-0 lead; a 27-yard kick on the last play of the first half for a 27-10 lead and a 23-yarder with 5:14 left in the third quarter for a 37-10 advantage. But the sophomore kicker did miss the first extra point of his career following Giansante's second-period TD catch, snapping a streak of 43 in a row successfully converted.
Villanova quarterback Chris Polony, who replaced ineffective starter Chris Cullicerto (2-for-7, seven yards), went 15 of 19 for 120 yards with two interceptions and a nine-yard TD pass to Dorian Wells (five catches-36 yards, TD). Kevin Monangai rushed 18 times for 57 yards and a touchdown.
SERIES HISTORY- TIED, 11-11: UNH and Villanova have been conference rivals since 1988. The northern Wildcats won the first two meetings between the schools, with the initial meeting between the two being the most lopsided, 58-7, in favor of UNH. Villanova rebounded by winning the next three encounters before UNH went on a four-game winning streak between 1993-96. Villanova then went on a tear, taking six consecutive games from '97-2003, including a dominant 45-3 effort in '02. UNH, though, has had the better of Villanova in recent years, earning wins in five of the last seven encounters. However, one of the two 'Nova wins in that span was a 46-7 triumph on a snow-covered Villanova Stadium field in the D-I FCS national quarterfinals Dec. 5, 2009.
SCOUTING VILLANOVA: The 11th-ranked Villanova Wildcats travel to UNH with a 4-2 overall record that includes 3-0 in the CAA and 1-2 on the road. Last weekend, VU was a 45-35 victor at No. 3 Towson to extend its winning streak to four games. After opening the season with consecutive losses to Boston College and Fordham, ‘Nova has defeated Stony Brook, Penn, William & Mary and Towson.
In the national statistics, Villanova is ranked No. 9 in rushing defense (102.5 yards/game) and 18th in rushing offense (228.2 yards/game), while Robertson is second in completion percentage (.712), 13th in passing efficiency (152.5) and 14th in rushing TDs (eight).
Villanova has outscored the opposition in both the first (59-27) and second (59-21) quarters, but the opponent has recorded the advantage in both the third (34-24) and fourth (32-31).
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Sophomore quarterback John Robertson was named CAA Offensive Player of the Week on Oct. 14. Robertson completed 17 of 18 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns at Towson, and he also rushed 32 times for 150 yards and three TDs to garner the award.
The top two receivers are Poppy Livers (31 receptions, 350 yards, two TDs) and Jamal Abdur-Rahm (18-225, one TD). Robertson has a team-leading 593 rushing yards and is followed by Kevin Monangai with 384 yards on 76 carries.
On the other side of the ball, sophomore safety Cameron McCurry was honored as CAA Defensive Player of they Week on Oct. 14. McCurry finished the game with five tackles, a fumble recovery, one interception and a blocked PAT. He has a nation-leading four interceptions this season.
VU’s top tacklers are Joey Harmon (36-18-54) and Don Cherry (28-20-48).
50, JUST LIKE 05: The Wildcats have recorded 50-plus points in back-to-back home games, something they had not accomplished since 2005. That season, UNH rattled off an incredible five straight games from Oct. 15-Nov. 26 of 50-plus points at home in wins over Rhode Island (53-9), Northeastern (52-21), Iona (56-0), Maine (59-47) and Colgate (55-21) in the opening round of the NCAAs.
The ‘Cats last recorded two 50-plus point games in 2009 when they won at Towson (57-7) and beat Rhode Island (55-42) at home.
IT STARTS UP FRONT: UNH leads the CAA in total offense (479.2 yards/game) and rushing offense (242.2 yards/game), and it all starts with the offensive line. Senior co-captain Seamus O’Neill is in the midst of his third straight season locking down the left tackle position. Center Mike Coccia has started all 29 games of his collegiate career, and Ricky Archer has been a staple at right guard for two of the last three seasons (academically ineligible in 2012), and Rob Bowman has a streak of 17 straight games started at right tackle.
The lone volatile slot has been left guard, where senior Sean Ryan, the preseason incumbent, has missed the season’s first five games with a knee injury. Redshirt freshman Tad McNeely filled in ably for the first four games, before he was knocked out of commission for the Rhode Island game (Oct. 12). Fellow R-Fr. Alexander Morrill stepped in, and the Wildcats didn’t miss a beat.
STERITI STEPPING IT UP: Junior RB Nico Steriti has been on a tear in recent weeks. Steriti has eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark in two of the past three games; he carried for 15 times for 116 yards at No. 17 Lehigh on Sept. 28, and he rumbled for a season-high 150 yards and two touchdowns on 15 rushes in the win over Rhode Island on Oct. 12. He has leaped from eighth in the CAA (72.0 yards/game) to sixth (91.4 yards/game) in the rushing ranks during this stretch.
With 1,748 career rushing yards –including eight career 100-yard games—Steriti is within 179 yards of cracking UNH’s all-time Top-10.
|1||Jerry Azumah (1995-98)||6,193|
|8||Avrom Smith (1991-94)||2,237|
|9||Jim Quinn (1979-82)||1,947|
|10||Curt Collins (1980-82)||1,927|
|--||Nico Steriti (2011-present)||1,748|
RUNAWAY VICTORY: UNH totaled a season-high 333 rushing yards in a win over Rhode Island on Oct. 12. That was the Wildcats’ highest rushing output since accumulating 332 yards in a 44-21 win at Georgia State on Oct. 6, 2012 – Coach Mac’s 100th career victory.
FIGHT FOR WILDCAT SUPREMACY: UNH and Villanova meet for the 23rd time as Wildcat rivals. The all-time series is deadlocked at 11-11; ‘Nova is the only opponent that has squared off with New Hampshire at least 20 times in which the all-time series is dead even.
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.
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 and a banged up left foot.
DUAL THREAT AT QUARTERBACK: UNH is the only school in the CAA with two quarterbacks in the Top-10 in pass efficiency. Sophomore Sean Goldrich leads the league with a 168.7 rating, and Andy Vailas is ranked 10th at 123.3. Goldrich will make his second straight start in favor of Vailas, who was hurt during the loss at Towson on Oct. 5.
Goldrich dazzled in a win over Rhode Island with two passing touchdowns and a rushing score that came as part of his career-high 94 rushing yards.
HARRIS AMONG BEST IN SCHOOL HISTORY: Junior WR R.J. Harris climbed into an eighth-place tie for all-time receptions (160) and ninth place on UNH’s all-time receiving yards list (2,036) following a four-catch, 44-yard performance in a win against URI on Oct. 12.
Harris is within 95 yards and eight receptions of catching former teammate Joey Orlando for No. 8 and No. 6 all-time, respectively.
MONEY MIKE CLO$E TO CAA TOP 10: Senior place kicker Mike MacArthur moved into a tie with Connor McCormick (2002-05) for UNH’s all-time lead in field goals by connecting for the 40th of his career, a 24-yard kick late in the first half of an Oct. 12 win over Rhode Island. Money Mike, who is a perfect 15-for-15 in PATs this season, needs one more FG to become the first Wildcat to ever reach the CAA’s Top 10.
REAL CATS WEAR PINK: UNH Athletics and Wentworth-Douglass Hospital are teaming up to raise awareness and join the fight against breast cancer. There will be 500 pink rally towels as part of the Real Cats Wear Pink game against Villanova, and UNH students are invited to enjoy free pizza at the game. The pink ribbon synonymous with Breast Cancer Awareness is painted on Mooradian Field, and the Wildcats will commemorate the occasion with a pink decal on their helmet for Saturday’s game.
BUILDING BRIDGES SOCIAL: The University of New Hampshire will hold its Building Bridges Social on Saturday, October 19, from 4-6 p.m. at the Elliott Alumni Center.
This multicultural event is open to all students and their parents, alumni, friends and colleagues with the focus on 'building bridges' on campus with student-athletes, students and prominent alumni. A light meal and soft drinks will be provided.
This event is sponsored by UNH Athletics and the Division of Student and Academic Services, which are strongly encouraging all multicultural students to attend the meet-and-greet and social networking event that will follow the UNH/Villanova football game (12 p.m.) at Cowell Stadium.
Anyone interested in attending the social is strongly encouraged to RVSP via email to UNH defensive line Coach Jon Shelton at firstname.lastname@example.org. Shelton is a member of the UNH President's Commission on the Status of People of Color. He is also the President and Lead Presenter of the 'SMART PROGRAM' (Smart Male Reality Training), which focuses on sexual assault prevention among male students.