New Hampshire Football Report

Bryant is ready to run

DURHAM– Trevon Bryant is getting a bit antsy. The University of New Hampshire senior running back and captain is closing in on his first football game in about 20 months.

Bryant missed all of last season with a knee injury and is getting amped up for UNH’s season opener at Maine on Aug. 30 at 7 p.m.

“We have a big game coming up,” Bryant said. “We’re excited. It’s coming fast. This is huge for me, just as it is for my team. . . . I’m a little nervous, but I’m ready to go, nervous because it’s been so long. Feeling great. Feeling good.”

Before the Wildcats head to Orono, they have a little business to attend to at home: They close out pre-season camp with a final scrimmage Tuesday at noon in Wildcat Stadium. Then full attention turns to the Black Bears and the defense of the Brice-Cowell Musket that goes to the winner of the series.

UNH and Maine traditionally play in the final game of the regular season, but last year and this season, because of some jockeying of schedules, they’re matched up in the opener. The Wildcats held on for a 24-23 triumph in the “Thursday Night Throwdown” in Wildcat Stadium last season.

“This puts more pressure on us because we have to start off playing as good as we’re going to be for the season right away,” Bryant said. “Usually we start off with our I-A schools and that gives us a little time to get into the groove and see what our team is going to be like and get the shivers out. Now it’s time to go because we’re starting off with a CAA game against a great team, at UMaine. We have to be ready to go right away.”

Bryant last played a game in the NCAA playoffs at James Madison on Dec. 3, 2016 and carried twice: once for 10 yards and once for 13. The game before he had 11 carries for 113 yards, including touchdown runs of 10 yards and 48 yards.

For the 2016 season, Bryant averaged 6 yards per carry (82 carries for 496 yards) and scored five rushing TDs.

The Wildcats get one last shakedown cruise before the opener in Tuesday’s scrimmage, open to all in Wildcat Stadium.

“We’re going to cut it loose and let the kids play out there,” UNH coach Sean McDonnell said. “Try to do some scenarios, get them in scenarios where we can make sure they’re getting the reps that they need to finish what they’re doing.”

McDonnell noted the efforts of several players, including redshirt freshman tight end Gunner Gibson, in the latter stages of camp.

“Gunnar Gibson’s getting better,” McDonnell said. “Watching him run around and catch the ball and do some things. He’s settling in. He had a sprained foot early and now’s he’s settled in and is doing some things.”

The coach also cited the play of junior Ricky Ellison and redshirt freshman Pop Bush in the defensive backfield.

“Defensively, I think Ricky Ellison is playing very, very well,” McDonnell said. “He’s got to continue to do it, him and Pop at the safety position. Looks like we’re going to get Evan Horn back (from an injury). That’s a good thing to have some depth at that position. Pop Bush has gotten better, getting a ton of reps so it’s a real good thing for him.”

The Wildcats have qualified for the NCAA Division I FCS tournament in each of the last 14 seasons, which is the best run of success in the country.

Last year, they went 7-4 in the regular season and beat Central Connecticut State at home and Central Arkansas on the road in the playoffs on the way to a quarterfinal match at South Dakota State.

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