November 22, 2014

UNH tops Maine, awaits tournament seeding

UNH logo.jpg

ORONO, Maine -- The top-ranked University of New Hampshire football team won the CAA conference title outright, retained the Brice-Cowell Musket and extended its win streak to a school-record 10 games by defeating the University of Maine, 20-12, Saturday at Alfond Stadium.

UNH, which has won five straight and 12 of 13 in the series against Maine, improved to 10-1 overall and 8-0 in the CAA. The Wildcats became the second team to complete the conference season undefeated since the CAA took the league banner in 2007. New Hampshire now awaits the NCAA FCS Championship tournament bracket announcement Sunday at 11 a.m. The bracket will be televised on ESPNU. 

Maine ended its season 5-6, 4-4.

Casey DeAndrade and Cody Muller led UNH's stifling defense, which allowed season lows in first downs (12), passing yards (92) and total yards (179) in addition to recording five sacks and three turnovers. DeAndrade recovered two fumbles, whereas Muller tallied a team-high nine tackles, including two sacks. Brian Ciccone also had two sacks, and Robbie Zauck had four tackles, including a sack, and a forced fumble. 

Maine's defense held the Wildcats' explosive offense, which was averaging 38.7 points per game, to season lows in passing yards (169) and total yards (287). The Black Bears also recorded three sacks six turnovers with three fumble recoveries and three interceptions.

UNH quarterback Sean Goldrich completed 14 of 31 passes for 169 yards and one touchdown, as well as a career-high three interceptions. He also had 12 carries for 26 yards and a TD. Jimmy Owens was UNH's leading rusher with 12 carries for 46 yards. R.J. Harris was the top receiver with five catches for 62 yards. 

Maine's Drew Belcher finished 11 of 25 for 92 yards and one interception, and he had a game-high 20 rushes for 14 yards and a TD. Jerickson Fedrick was the team's top ground gainer with 42 yards on six carries. Jordan Dunn finished with four catches for 29 yards.

Dartmoth routs Princeton, but settles for second

Dartmouth logo.jpg

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Junior quarterback Dalyn Williams completed 30 of 35 passes for 305 yards and four touchdowns and the Dartmouth defense stymied host Princeton in a 41-10 Big Green victory in front of 6,663 fans at Princeton Stadium on Saturday afternoon. 

The win allowed Dartmouth (8-2, 6-1 Ivy) to post its best record in 17 years, but like 1997, the Big Green finished a game back in the Ivy League standings as Harvard (10-0, 7-0 Ivy) completed an undefeated campaign with a last-minute 31-24 victory over Yale.

The Tigers finished their season with an even 5-5 mark and 4-3 record in the league to finish fourth. Dartmouth has now won five straight against Princeton for the first time in the 94-game history of the series, and in the process retained the Governor's Trophy and Sawhorse Dollar which go to the victor of the game.

Senior Bo Patterson was the recipient of three of the four touchdown tosses, catching five passes on the day for 129 yards for his first career 100-yard game in his final outing. He is the second receiver in as many weeks to catch three scoring strikes as Ryan McManus -- who led all players with 10 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown -- had three last week in a win over Brown. Prior to those two games, Dartmouth had not had anyone catch three in 25 years.

The offense surpassed 500 yards for a third straight week, compiling 518 overall with 341 coming through the air. On the other side of the ball, the Dartmouth defense limited a Tiger team averaging nearly 425 yards a game to a mere 228 -- 125 passing and 103 on the ground. Connor Michelsen completed 18 of his 33 passes for just 102 yards, while A.J. Glass led Princeton with 41 rushes on eight carries.


Notes: The win was the 100th career victory for Dartmouth's Buddy Teevens ... Williams finished the season with 2,119 passing yards, making him the sixth Dartmouth quarterback with more than 2,000 yards in a season. He also threw 21 touchdown passes, joining Jay Fiedler as the only Big Green QBs with 20 or more in a season ... McManus finished the year with 68 receptions, fourth-most in a season at Dartmouth ... The Big Green had not had three straight games of 500 or more total yards since the 1992 squad did it to end its season ... Dartmouth also scored 40 or more points for three straight games for the first time since 1935.

Campbell, Windham and Pinkerton claim titles


Campbell 20, Newport 6: Conor Gannon returned an interception 7 yards for a TD and scored on a 1-yard pass from quarterback Kyle Manning to highlight Campbell's victory. Newport  (9-2) turned the ball over five times, and also failed to handle a kickoff. Newport quarterback Tom Hogan left in the game in the first quarter with a back injury. Noah Wade had 140 yards rushing on 20 carries. He scored Newport's TD on a 43-yard run. Campbell (9-2) also received a 1-yard TD run from Kevin Moreau.

Windham 38, St. Thomas 28: Windham quarterback Brendan McInnis completed 8 of 14 pass attempts for 151 yards and five touchdowns. Joey Frake had three TD receptions for Windham (11-0). Anthony Gallo caught two TD passes for the Jaguars. St. Thomas quarterback Stephen Hedberg tossed four TD passes, but was intercepted three times. Hedberg holds the state record for TD passes in a season (35). Windham led 21-0 in the second quarter, but the Saints (9-2) battled back and led 28-21 in the third.

Pinkerton 37, Bedford 0: Quarterback Jack Hanaway ran for three TDs and T.J. Urbanik rushed for two more to help Pinkerton (12-0) win its first title since 2010. The Astros held Bedford (11-1) to 130 yards of offense (43 rushing). Kyle Cantalupo added a 36-yard field goal for the Astros, who led 23-0 at halftime. Peter Cyr led Pinkerton with eight tackles. Tucker Lavigne and Thomas O'Rourke each had a game-high 11 tackles for Bedford. It was the first Division I championship game that featured two unbeaten teams.

If you can't make it to Durham ...

Those looking to watch today's NHIAA championship football games via live streaming can access the NFHS Network here:

There is a charge

November 21, 2014

Conference title within UNH's reach

Allen Lessels
UNH Insider

UNH logo.jpg

The No. 1 UNH football team packed the old gun on the bus for the trip up Rte. 95 to Orono.

Tom Yeager is carting additional hardware up from Colonial Athletic Association headquarters in Richmond, Va.

The Wildcats close out the regular season with a game against Maine in Alfond Stadium on Saturday at 3:30 p.m..

UNH brings a nine-game winning streak - the best one-season mark in program history - and a 9-1 overall record and 7-0 mark in the CAA into the game.

The Wildcats have plenty to play for, starting with the Brice-Cowell Musket that is awarded each year to the winner of the series between the two teams. UNH can also earn its first outright league title since 1994 and Yeager will have a trophy on hand to commemorate that event.

A win also likely earns the Wildcats the No. 1 or No. 2 seed for the 24-team FCS tournament, which means that as long as they stay alive in the tournament, they would be the home team for playoff games through the semifinals.

It all starts with the old gun, said UNH coach Sean McDonnell.

"In anything you do, you can go out and play pickup basketball, you can be in a foursome playing in a scramble, you want to win at whatever you're doing," the coach. "This one you want to win because it's Maine. And you want to win because you have a chance to hold something for 12 months that nobody else in the country can touch, and especially the other team up north that's across the border. They can't have it and we have it. This game a lot of things fall into place, but to me it's the next one, it's Maine, it's for the musket, man, it can't be much more than that."

The Wildcats have been greedy about keeping the musket in their locker room for more than a decade. They have won the last four and 11 of the last 12 against Maine.

"It's just one of those games where you throw the records out the window," said senior running back Nico Steriti. "You throw the CAA championship out the window. You throw playoffs out the window. Nothing really matters besides keeping that musket. That's what the game means to me."

Maine is 5-5 overall and 4-3 in the CAA and is playing its best football of the year.

The Black Bears have won their last three games and are playing their customary tough defense while the offense has been stepping it up, led by true freshman quarterback Drew Belcher and true freshman running back Nigel Beckford.

Beckford has been over 100 yards in rushing in two of Maine's last three games. He leads the team' ground game with 104 carries for 447 yards and has scored five of the team's seven rushing touchdowns.

Maine averaged 13 points a game through its first seven games and has averaged 26 in its last three.

The Black Bears will aim to turn the tables on the Wildcats and see what they can do about messing up UNH's postseason plans.

Last year, Maine was shooting for an undefeated season when it came to Durham for the regular season finale. UNH won that one, 24-3.

Two weeks later, the Wildcats beat Maine, 41-27, in Orono in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Steriti said the UNH players have not talked a lot about the outright CAA championship that's on the line.

"A (couple of) years back we had a similar type of game vs. Towson at home and we were running around saying ring week all week and I think we lost track of just how important just the game was to us as a program, because we were on the brink of making the playoffs or not," Steriti said.

UNH lost that game at home to Towson, 64-35, and ended up in a four-way tie for the CAA championship.

"I think that kind of stuff gets you off track a little bit," Steriti said. "We haven't concentrated on that a whole lot this season. Coach has mentioned it maybe once or twice to the seniors, letting us know we've done some great things, but we're just in business mode as a team. We're just going one day a time and whatever's up we've got to take of business. The CAA championship would be great and all, but that musket means a lot more to us as a senior class at least."

The Wildcats are relatively healthy going into the game.

Steriti, who has battled injuries all season, played a limited role in last week's win at home over Delaware and is ready to go. Junior safety Hayden Knudson and sophomore running back Dalton Crossan, who also have been injured, played last week, too.

"It'll be good if we can get that guy going on returns and other things," McDonnell said of Crossan.

Junior quarterback Sean Goldrich will make his third start at quarterback since returning from a knee injury.

For the season, Goldrich has completed 121 of his 170 passes (71.2 percent) for 1,540 yards and 12 touchdowns. He has been intercepted twice.

Senior wide receiver R.J. Harris leads the CAA and is second in the nation with 115.8 receiving yards per game. Harris has 13 of UNH's 24 touchdown receptions. Senior tight end Harold Spears caught eight passes for 104 yards and three touchdowns last week against Delaware.

The UNH defense came up with eight turnovers in the first six games of the season and has 13 in the last four.

Keene's Russell selected to play in Bowl Game

Keene's Taylor Russell, a senior at Stonehill College, has accepted an offer to play in the National Bowl Game in Miami on Dec. 7

Russell, a defensive tackle, is currently raising funds to cover the costs of the trip. Donations can be made here:

Plymouth State's Wilson earns MASCAC honor

PSU logo.jpgThree members of the Plymouth State University football program were recognized this week for their outstanding performances this fall, earning selection to the Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference (MASCAC) All-Conference Team for 2014.

Senior defensive lineman Kyle Wilson of Dover was the top Panthers representative and was named to the All-MASCAC Second Team. Wilson was recognized with the season award after earning MASCAC weekly honors four times this season. The All-Conference teams are selected in a vote by the MASCAC head coaches.

In addition, this year was the first time the MASCAC named a student-athlete from each institution in all sports and a coach selected by their peers to the MASCAC Sportsmanship Team. Those selected embody good sportsmanship on and off the field. The 2014 Football Sportsmanship Team includes PSU junior Sam Bellamy (Keyport, N.J.), and Panther head coach Paul Castonia, who was selected as the Football Sportsmanship Coach of the Year.

A 6-3, 247-pound defensive end, Wilson tied for third in the MASCAC this season with 18 tackles for loss, and he is ranked 10th in the conference with 5.5 sacks. He finished tied for second on the Panthers in total tackles with 55, and ranked 35th in the NCAA Division III in tackles for loss.

A 6-0, 173-pound safety, Bellamy was tied with Wilson for second on the team with 55 tackles.  He made 47 solo stops, including one tackle for lost yardage, and he collected one interception and one forced fumble.

Castonia completed his 12th season at Plymouth State in 2014.  The Panthers led the MASCAC this season and ranked second among 242 teams in NCAA Division III in fewest penalties per game (3.8) and sixth in fewest penalty yards per game (35.4). The Panthers finished the campaign with a 1-9 overall record, and an 0-8 mark in the MASCAC.

Titles will be on the line at UNH


Pinkerton vs. Bedford

  • When and where: Saturday (6 p.m.) at UNH.
  • Team records: Both teams are 11-0.
  • Regular-season result: The teams did not meet.
  • Noteworthy: This is the first time two undefeated teams have met in the Division I championship game. Bedford advanced with a 14-7 victory over Exeter in the semifinals. Pinkerton beat Bishop Guertin 35-0 in the other semifinal. ... Pinkerton is playing in the Division I title game for the 10th time in the last 11 seasons, and the 16th time since they moved up from Division II in 1985. Pinkerton is 10-5 in its previous 15 appearances in the Division I title game. The Astros haven't won the title since 2010, when they beat Nashua North 14-7. ... Bedford is playing in its third championship game, but this is the Bulldogs' first appearance in the Division I title game. Bedford dropped a 41-6 decision to Portsmouth in the 2011 Division III championship game, and was on the short end of a 21-13 score when it met Winnacunnet in the 2012 Division II title game. ... Pinkerton running back T.J. Urbanik has run for a team-high 1,205 yards on 113 caries this season. ... THe Astros have scored at least 29 points in 10 of their 11 games. ... Bedford defensive end Eric Glassman has a team-high 64 tackles, eight tackles for loss and 11.5 sacks. ... Bedford is allowing an average of 8.7 points per game. Pinkerton is allowing 8.8. ... The only previous meeting between these programs was last season. Bedford won 14-12 in the season-opener for each team.


Windham vs. St. Thomas

  • When and where: Saturday (2:30 p.m.) at UNH.
  • Team records: Windham is 10-0. St. Thomas is 9-1
  • Regular-season result: The teams did not meet.
  • Noteworthy: This contest features the top offense in Division II (St. Thomas) and the division's stingiest defense (Windham). The Saints have scored at least 48 points in seven of their 10 games. Only Souhegan has scored more than 16 points against Windham this season. ... St. Thomas advanced by beating Kennett 48-14. Windham moved on with a 32-7 triumph over Hollis/Brookline. ... Windham is seeking the program's first state title. St. Thomas last won a state championship in 2011, when it defeated Windham 49-28 in the Division V championship game. ... St. Thomas quarterback Stephen Hedberg has completed 116 of 199 passes for 2,050 yards and 31 touchdowns this season. He shares the state record for TD passes in a season (31) with Bishop Brady QB Brendan Johnson. ... Windham quarterback Brendan McInnis has completed 72 of 117 passes for 1,423 yards and 23 TDs this year. ... St. Thomas defensive end Jesse Quintero has 15 sacks. 


Newport vs. Campbell

  • When and where: Saturday (11 a.m.) at UNH.
  • Team records: Newport is 9-1. Campbell is 8-2.
  • Regular-season result: Campbell won 21-20 in Litchfield.
  • Noteworthy: This is the only championship game that features teams that met during the regular season. Two Kyle Manning touchdown passes in the final 3:30 gave Campbell a 21-14 lead in that contest, and the Cougars stopped Newport on a late two-point conversion attempt and held on for the victory. ... Newport coach Larry McElreavy was the head coach at Columbia from 1986 to 1988. ... Campbell running back Kevin Moreau has run for 787 yards and 13 touchdowns on 105 carries, and also has 16 receptions for 296 yards and two TDs this season. On defense, he's recorded 78 tackles (41 solo), forced four fumbles and has three sacks. ... Newport running back Noah Wade has rushed for 856 yards and 15 touchdowns this season. He is also a dangerous kick returner and brought back a punt 70 yards for a TD in last weekend's 38-22 triumph over Gilford. ... Newport has scored at least 31 points in eight of its 10 games. The Tigers are seeking their first state title since they beat Gilford 35-0 for the 2010 Division VI championship. ... Campbell lost two of its first three games this season, but enters this contest having won seven in a row.  ... This is the second time a Campbell team has reached a state championship game. Franklin beat Campbell 8-0 to win the 2008 Division IV title.

                                                                  -- Capsules compiled by Roger Brown

Media Blitz: Scene set for a Super Saturday

High School: UNH a perfect venue >> Union Leader

High School: QBs are in the spotlight >> Union Leader

High School: Campbell's Moreau does it all >> Union Leader

High School: Moreau made sudden impact >> Nashua Telegraph

High School: Saturday will be super for Campbell >> Nashua Telegraph

High School: Newport seeking revenge >> Claremont Eagle-Times

November 20, 2014

The State of Football: Week 12

Roger Brown

Football logo.jpg
It was the second half of last year's Division I championship game at Concord's Memorial Field. Concord was beating Pinkerton Academy by such a large margin that running time kicked in.

Then came the announcement over the PA system: "In the Division II championship game, Portsmouth and Plymouth are tied, 14-14, in the fourth quarter ... 

That announcement made a lot of people unhappy, since many elected to attend Concord's 42-14 triumph over Pinkerton instead of making the trip to Plymouth to witness Chuck Lenahan's final game as Plymouth's head coach. Those fans were also treated to a great game, as the Bobcats prevailed 21-14 in overtime.

The point being that for years, forever really, NHIAA football fans had to make a choice on championship Saturday. Games were spread across the state, all with similar if not identical starting times. No one could see more than one game ... until this year.

The NHIAA's decision to reduce the number of divisions from six to three, coupled with the fact that the University of New Hampshire added lights to Cowell Stadium this season allowed the NHIAA move all the championship games to one venue and play them on the same day. For the price of one ticket, fans can see any or all of Saturday's three championship games:

Division I: Pinkerton vs. Bedford.
Division II: Windham vs. St. Thomas
Division III: Newport vs. Campbell.

"I'm ecstatic," said former Manchester West assistant coach Sean McDonnell, who these days makes his living coaching football at UNH. "Here are the best six teams in the state, playing in the same place on the same day.

"When we got the lights it was a no-brainer. Reaching out to the high school coaches was important to find out what they were feeling. About 95 percent of them felt that this was going to be an unbelievable venue for the kids to come play in. If anyone was upset about having to give up a home-field advantage they didn't say it to me."

The NHIAA's agreement with UNH is for this year only, but it will be a surprise if UNH doesn't become the permanent site for the title games.McDonnell even offered up UNH's locker room to Saturday's home teams: Pinkerton, Windham and Newport.

"Two years from now (when UNH will have a new facility) it's going to be unbelievable here for these people," McDonnell said. "Mom and dad come here and see the facilities, and most importantly see the campus.

'Not everybody in the state takes a ride through Durham, and if you come here you may have to ride downtown for some reason -- to get something to eat or something like that. Just ride around and see the beauty of this campus. To see the things that I saw 30 years ago when I was visiting the college campus.

"It's a win-win situation for everybody involved."

At any rate, with the utmost confidence ... this week's selections:

Pinkerton 17
Bedford 14
The Astros have battered most of their opponents this season, while Bedford has had to win its share of close games. It'll be interesting to see how Pinkerton responds to some adversity if Bedford has the lead in the third quarter.

Unlike Saturday's first two games, defense should dominate this contest. It may come down to a Kyle Cantalupo kick.

Windham 27
St. Thomas 21
It's hard to look past the big passing numbers St. Thomas has put up this season, but in late November it usually comes down to which team can run the ball.

Campbell 26
Newport 20
Newport's Larry McElreavy may be the only coach in the state with his own Wikipedia page. He's obviously got a pretty good football team too.

Campbell seems to fit the mold of a team playing its best football at the right time. The Cougars just have to remind themselves that they didn't win the Division III championship when they beat Bow.
Last week: 3-3
Record to date: 195-60

The State of Football, a commentary on New Hampshire high school football, appears each Friday throughout the season. Follow Roger Brown on Twitter: @603sportsmedia.