New Hampshire Football Report

UNH facing tall task in opener

Allen Lessels
UNH Insider

The University of New Hampshire football team will play its first game of the 2016 season – a campaign highlighted by the debut of the new Wildcat Stadium – 100 days from today on the other side of the country in San Diego, Calif.

The Wildcats take on San Diego State, an FBS team and champion of the Mountain West Conference last year, in their season opener on Sept. 3 in Qualcomm Stadium.

UNH returns home to open Wildcat Stadium the next Saturday, Sept. 10, against the College of the Holy Cross.

The opener against Holy Cross is the first of five regular-season home games. The next home game on the schedule is Homecoming against William & Mary on Oct. 1. The other home games are Oct. 15 against James Madison, Oct. 29 against Stony Brook and Nov. 12 against Albany.

The Wildcats are looking to add to a longest-in-the-nation streak of appearances in the FCS tournament. They have qualified for the FCS tournament each of the last 12 seasons.

UNH is opening the season in California – and against a Mountain West team – for the second consecutive year. Last season the Wildcats faced San Jose State in their opener and fell, 43-13.

San Jose State then lost a home game to San Diego State, 30-7, later in the season.

San Diego State went 11-3 overall and 8-0 in the Mountain West last year. The Aztecs have won 10 straight games entering 2016, which is the second-best mark in the land.

They return one of the most productive runners in the country in Donnell Pumphrey, a 5-foot-9, 180-pound senior. He ran for 1,653 yards last season and scored 17 rushing touchdowns. He also had 416 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions.

Pumphrey’s rushing numbers were down from the year before when he went for 1,867 yards and 20 touchdowns.

The San Diego State game is the first of three non-conference games UNH plays to begin the season.

The next is the Wildcat Stadium opener against Holy Cross on Sept. 10. That game starts a four-game series between the UNH and the Crusaders.

Holy Cross finished 6-5 overall last season and was 3-3 in the Patriot League.

Peter Pujals is back for his senior year at quarterback for the Crusaders. He completed 59.1 percent of his passes for 3,195 yards with 28 touchdowns and 11 interceptions last season.

UNH’s other nonconference game this fall is at Dartmouth on Sept. 17. The Big Green went 9-1 overall and at 6-1 in the Ivy League earned a share of the league title with Penn and Harvard.

The Wildcats have their FBS games scheduled for the next two seasons. They will play at Georgia Southern in 2017 and at the University of Colorado in 2018.


Follow Allen Lessels on Twitter: @UNHInsider.

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