|« Robert Morris Coasts in Season Opener||Colgate Turns Botched FG Try Into Winning TD Pass to Shock CCU »|
UNH Grounds Army
WEST POINT, N.Y. – Ricky who?
Just kidding. Just kidding.
But R.J. Toman and the University of New Hampshire football team did pass their first post-Ricky Santos test with flying colors yesterday , posting a 28-10 season-opening win over Army at Michie Stadium in weather conditions that were much better than predicted.
The Wildcats, a Football Championship Subdivision team, stepped it up on defense big-time and continued their string of success when stepping up a level. This was their fourth straight win over a Football Bowl Subdivision team (formerly I-A) squad.
“I’m speechless,” said senior captain and linebacker Matt Parent, who rarely is. “I’m a fifth year senior and we’ve beaten a I-A team four times in a row. It’s kind of unbelievable. A joyous occasion.”
Army scored first late in the opening quarter to grab a 7-0 lead. The UNH defense clamped down after that.
Defensive tackles Steve Young and Jordan Long and the guys up front led the way in stifling the running game that Army hoped to establish with its option attack. And the Wildcats forced and recovered four fumbles.
“It was a great effort by these kids,” said UNH coach Sean McDonnell. “I told them last night that we if we can stop the rush and can outgain them rushing, we were going to win the football game.”
Army had 169 yards rushing in the game. The Wildcats had 184.
UNH outgained the Black Knights 322-264 overall and took the game over in the second half.
The Wildcats were up 14-10 at halftime, but had squandered a couple of chances with the ball, one with a Toman interception and the other when tight end Scott Sicko fumbled after gaining a first down with a pass reception.
“It ended up great for us,” Toman said. “But the first half was a little rough. . . . But we came out on the first drive of the second half and executed all the way down the field and really got a jumpstart on Army in that half.”
Toman was three-for-three passing in the drive and had a 9-yard run. Chad Kackert had a couple of runs for 18 yards and Mike Boyle went around left end for a 5-yard score.
Tom Bishop’s third conversion kick of the game made it 21-10 with 11:19 left in the third period and UNH – and its defense – was in control.
Toman completed 12 of his 17 passes for 138 yards and had the interception.
He joined in on the praise of the defense.
“The defense played awesome today,” Toman said. “Hats off to them and to the special teams.”
The offense scored two of UNH’s touchdowns yesterday. The defense and special teams the two others.
The Wildcats trailed for only seconds in the game. Army scored with 2:35 left in the first period.
And UNH senior John Clements broke to the right with the ensuing kickoff, broke a couple of tackles at about the 40-yard line and ended up going 87 yards to score.
UNH got the ball back when defensive tackle Lance Mailloux, a sophomore out of Manchester West, recovered an Army fumble.
Kackert scored on a 23-yard run to end that possession and give UNH the lead for good.
Strong safety Hugo Souza closed out the scoring when a fumble popped up to him and he returned it 22 yards into the end zone with 50 seconds left in the third quarter.
“The ball fell out and hit his foot and came right into my hands and John Clements led me in,” Souza said. “It was a great feeling.”
There were a lot of those going around late yesterday afternoon.
“It was great for the kids,” said defensive coordinator Sean McGowan. “They played hard right from the get-go. They responded very well today.”
NOTES: Souza and defensive back Clements each had 10 tackles to lead the Wildcats and each had a fumble recovery as well. Mailloux and Dan Ruhl had the other fumble recoveries. Souza and linebacker Devon Jackson each had a sack and Terrence Klein and Sean Ware shared one. . . . Army needed 55 rushing plays to get its 169 yards for a 3.1-yard average. . . . UNH got its 184 rushing yards on 38 plays, a 4.8 average. . . . Army coach Stan Brock on the game: “I’m embarrassed and ashamed, not that we lost to New Hampshire because they are a good football team, but by the way we did it. I apologize to the Corps of Cadets and the United States Military Academy, and anyone who watched that game. That is not the way these kids play.” . . . Army used three quarterbacks in the game. . . . Starter Carson Williams appeared to injure his left hand in the second quarter. . . . UNH plays its first Colonial Athletic Association game at Rhode Island on Saturday. The Rams beat Monmouth 27-24 last Saturday and their game at Fordham last night was postponed by rain.
UNH grounds Army
By Allen Lessels, The New Hampshire Union Leader
Photo Credit: Associated Press c/o The New Hampshire Union Leader