New Hampshire Football Report

McDonnell joins 100 club

DURHAM Saturday night some 20, maybe 25, minutes after his University of New Hampshire football team celebrated its second straight win to open the season, this one a 26-14 Colonial Athletic Association triumph over Towson in Wildcat Stadium, Sean McDonnell sat for just a bit in his office and was asked to look back for a moment — back to Sept. 4, 1999.

That day, McDonnell won his first game in his debut as head coach of the Wildcats. UNH’s league was the Atlantic 10 at the time and McDonnell’s group went on the road to knock off rival Rhode Island, 37-14, for his first overall and league win all rolled into one.

BOX SCORE

“I remember it vividly,” McDonnell said. “Ryan Day was the quarterback. Dan Curran was the running back. . . . We played our tails off. Ryan, first college start. We played pretty well. It was a heck of a win for us.”

There have been many since.

Flash forward to Saturday night and Wildcat Stadium and the CAA triumph over Towson. It was CAA win No. 100 for McDonnell. He’s the third coach to collect that many regular season league wins.

Grad student safety and captain Evan Horn, who helped deliver the win Saturday with a pair of interceptions, was just over 15 months old the day that McDonnell won his first.

The milestone wasn’t a subject that came up a lot around the team, Horn said.

“We knew,” Horn said. “But I was just telling them (the media): He doesn’t care. He probably doesn’t want me to talk about it either. It’s just 1-0 on Saturday night. I have the same mindset as him. He has 100 wins, which is awesome. He’s a legendary coach. Everybody knows that. He doesn’t need all the accolades. We’re on to the next one.”

The next one is Saturday at Lafayette (12:30 p.m.) as the Wildcats go after their first non-conference win of the season.

They move on from there to their FBS game, at the University of Pittsburgh in Heinz Field, on Saturday, Sept. 25 at a time yet to be announced.

The Wildcats got Saturday’s victory led by another strong defensive performance and a balanced offensive attack led by sophomore quarterback Bret Edwards.

Horn’s picks gave him 13 for his career and fellow safeties senior Pop Bush and redshirt freshman Noah Stansbury each had an interception as well.

“We have a good defense and they’re very opportunistic,” McDonnell said. “They fly to the ball and stuff like that. One thing that we’ve always prided ourselves with is getting to the ball and getting the ball out. We created a ton of turnovers again tonight. And also had a ton of knockdowns and PBUs and pressures on the quarterbacks. It all adds together. Now we’ve got to shore up a couple of things in the run game, but that part of it will come.”

Edwards completed a career high 24 of his 32 passes in his third career start with a pair of scores. His completions went to nine players and junior Sean Coyne had a career-high nine catches for 113 yards, including a 54-yard TD.

“Distributed the football really well,” McDonnell said. “Proud again of Bret. He’s got an uncanny ability to get open. By getting open I mean he scrambles, he takes time. Any time he’s throwing a ball away, people wonder why: it keeps us out of long distances. That’s really good. It’s smart on his part.”

Edwards has completed 75.5 percent of his passes (40-53) through the first two games for 494 yards and five touchdowns and has not been intercepted.

“That great touch to Sean Coyne on that third and 9 pass down the seam, that’s an unbelievable pass,” McDonnell said. “He threw a couple in the hole to Kyle Lepkowski. He’s just got to keep growing on it.”

Sophomore Dylan Laube scored on a 32-yard run and on a 2-yard pass from Edwards.

Junior Carlos Washington Jr. opened the scoring with a 4-yard rushing TD in the first quarter.

It all turned into that 2-0 start overall, 2-0 in the CAA.  And, for an added bonus, CAA win No. 100 for Coach Mac.

Curran ran for 167 yards and three touchdowns in that first win. Day completed 15 of his 26 passes for 223 yards and a touchdown. Imion Powell, a 5-foot-3, 180-pound running back, McDonnell recalled, returned a punt 88 yards for a touchdown.

Several folks from the first win stayed in football.

To name a few, Powell is the head coach at Maple Shade High School in New Jersey. Curran is the head coach at Merrimack College and Day, you may have heard, heads up Ohio State University’s program. The offensive coordinator that game – calling the plays and making the decision in consult with McDonnell to go with Day as the starter – was Chip Kelly, now the boss at UCLA.

“A lot has changed since then,” Horn said. “It’s remarkable, really. Happy for coach. Just happy for us to get the win tonight.”

McDonnell smiled at the names and recollections.

“Had a lot of help,” he said. “A lot of help.”

XTRA POINTS 

  • The Wildcats play at Lafayette on Saturday at 12:30 p.m.
  • The Leopards fell to 0-2 with a 24-3 loss at William & Mary on Saturday. They lost their opener, 35-14, at Air Force, an FBS school.
  • William & Mary intercepted three Lafayette passes.
  • John Garrett is in his fifth season as the head coach at Lafayette. Among his other stops, Garrett worked for the Dallas Cowboys when his brother, Jason, was the head coach.
  • Only Andy Talley of Villanova (142) and Jimmye Laycock (111) of William & Mary have more regular season CAA wins than McDonnell.  Talley and Laycock are retired.
  • Senior Elijah Lewis and sophomore Derek Thompson led the Wildcats with nine tackles each against Towson. Lewis had two sacks. Junior Gunner Gibson also had a sack.
  • Horn and sophomore linebacker Bryce Shaw each had eight tackles. Horn broke up three passes as well.  Bush and Horn are tied for second in the league with two interceptions each.
  • Sophomore Kyle Lepkowski had three catches for 53 yards and junior C.J. Turner had three for 42 yards.

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