New Hampshire Football Report

UNH stuns Georgia Southern

BIRMINGHAM, Ala.  – Neil O’Connor caught 11 passes for 118 yards and two touchdowns to lead the 12th-ranked University of New Hampshire football team to Saturday evening’s 22-12 victory against Georgia Southern University at Legion Field, home of the University of Alabama Birmingham football program.

UNH, which recorded its first victory against an FBS school since defeating Ball State, 23-16, in 2009, improved to 2-0. The Wildcats led 15-0 at the end of the first quarter and 22-0 at halftime. Georgia Southern, which opened with a loss to Auburn, is now 0-2.

O’Connor’s 11 catches marked a career high and the two receiving TDs matched his personal best. The defense was led byRick Ellison, whose game-high 10 tackles matched a career high; and Jae’Wuan Horton, who tallied six tackles – including three for a loss – and two quarterback hurries, one of which led to an interception.

This game was supposed to be the 2017 home opener for Georgia Southern, but was moved because of Hurricane Irma.



  • UNH scored a touchdown on each of its first two possessions (20 plays, 126 yards) while the Wildcats’ defense forced a turnover and a 3-and-out on the Eagles’ first two possessions (10 plays, 37 yards). The Wildcats led 15-0 after 15 minutes.
  • Georgia Souther marched to the UNH 29 on the first possession of the game, but an errant pitch was recovered by Brian Carter.
  • UNH quarterback Trevor Knight engineered a 13-play, 70-yard drive that consumed 4:56 off the clock and was capped by an 11-yard TD pass to O’Connor at 6:46. Knight completed the two-point conversion to Justin Malone-Woods to give UNH an 8-0 lead.
  • UNH’s defense forced a three-and-out to set up excellent field position at the UNH 44. Momentum continued on offense with a 27-yard completion from Knight to O’Connor. Six plays later, Gray powered up the middle for a 2-yard run and the Max Pedinoff PAT extended the advantage to 15-0 at 1:56.


  • Georgia Southern’s third possession continued into the second quarter. UNH’s defense did not allow the Eagles into the red zone and Tyler Bass missed a 43-yard field goal attempt wide right to end a fruitless possession of 17 plays, 54 yards and 7:20.
  • UNH needed three plays to take a 22-0 lead at 3:48. Gray burst through a hole up the middle for a 47-yard gain and, one play later, Knight found O’Connor down the right sideline for an 18-yard TD. Morgan Ellman kicked the PAT.
  • On the ensuing Georgia Southern possession, the Eagles were stopped on fourth and 6 at the UNH 35 when Ryan Sosnak blocked quarterback Shai Werts’ pass at the line of scrimmage.


  • Tyler Bass’ 43-yard field goal capped a 16-play, 70-yard drive that consumed 7:01 and trimmed the Eagles’ deficit to 22-3 at 1:06.
  • Facing a fourth-and-18 situationat the UNH 2, punter Drew Sanborn fielded the snap and intentionally took a step backwards out of the end zone to concede the safety to make the score UNH 22, Georgia Southern 5 with six seconds on the clock.


  •  Georgia Southern had first and goal at the UNH 8 but a personal foul pushed the ball back to the 23 yard line. On the next play, Horton hit Werts as he threw the ball and Isiah Perkins intercepted the pass in the end zone to give possession to the Wildcats.
  • The Eagles got the ball back with 8:28 on the clock and Werts converted a fourth-and-three play at the UNH 49 with a 42-yard run. Two plays later, L.A. Ramsby scored from 5 yards out to lift the home team within 22-12 at 6:18.
  • Geogia Southern begain its next drive with 2:12 remaining and turned the ball over on downs. Horton’s sack on second down pushed the ball back to the Georgia Southern 10 and helped stop the Eagles.


  •  The last time UNH held an opponent scoreless through 30 minutes was Nov. 21, 2015 (13-0 vs. Maine).
  • UNH is now 2-0 vs. Georgia Southern. The Wildcats prevailed 27-23 in a 2004 NCAA Division I-AA playoff game at GS’s Paulson Stadium.
  • O’Connor recorded 11 of the team’s 13 receptions.
  • UNH’s defense recorded eight tackles-for-loss, including five sacks. Michael Balsamo made three stops behind the line of scrimmage, including one sack.
  • Josh Kania recorded a career-high nine tackles (8-1-9) and Quinlen Dean equaled his personal best, also with nine tackles (7-2-9).
  • The Wildcats won the turnover battle at plus-2 with two takeaways.
  • Evan Gray was UNH’s top ground gainer with 13 carries for 77 yards, including a long of 47 and the 2-yard TD run.
  • Trevor Knight completed 13 of 22 passes for 129 yards and two TDs.
  • UNH finished with 32 carries for 145 yards and 129 passing yards for a total of 274. GS had 57 rushes for 233 yards and 93 passing yards for 326 overall.

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