New Hampshire Football Report

UNH, Dartmouth reunite

DURHAM – It’s been a rollercoaster ride of a rivalry, the streakiest of series.

No. 23-ranked New Hampshire and undefeated Dartmouth renew their on-again, off-again football series on Saturday in Wildcat Stadium (1 p.m.).

The Wildcats are looking to bounce back after a bye week that followed a pair of losses to a couple of tough opponents, most recently a 23-21 setback against then-No. 3 James Madison on Oct. 2.

UNH is 3-2 overall and 2-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association.  Dartmouth is 4-0 overall and 2-0 in the Ivy League and coming off a 24-17 overtime win against Yale last Saturday.

“The thing is they’re a highly-ranked team annually,” Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens said. “They’re going to be prepared and it’s a physical football team, so it’s a challenge. When you try to play at the top of your level, FCS,  you need to play some real good people and UNH is one of them.

“They play hard, and that’s always been a hallmark of New Hampshire teams. They’re physical, aggressive. They play downhill defensively. They get after you from an offensive standpoint. Very attack-minded offensive/defensive style of play. They have good athletes. Tough kids.”

More than in-state bragging rights are on the line. The Big Green is working on a perfect season and aiming to gain momentum heading into five straight Ivy League contests to close the season.

The Wildcats need to get back on track in their quest for a CAA championship and to earn a spot in the FCS tournament for the first time since 2017.

“If we want to get to where we want to go – and that’s have an opportunity to go to the dance at the end of the year, we’ve got to win these FCS games,” UNH head coach Sean McDonnell said. “Beating a team that’s 30-4 (since the start of the 2017 season) and 4-0 right now would put a lot of credibility in what we’re doing.”

The Wildcats qualified for the FCS tournament 14 straight seasons from 2004-2017. The Ivy League does not allow its team to play in the FCS playoffs.

UNH and Dartmouth first met in 1901 and the series was one-sided through the first 70 years. Dartmouth won the opening game, 51-0, and each of the first 16 games through 1972. UNH got its first victory, 10-9, in 1973 and Dartmouth won 24-13 in 1976.

Starting with a 10-10 tie in 1979, the Wildcats didn’t lose in a run of 20 games — they were 18-0-2 in the span — until Dartmouth took the most recent game, 22-21, in Hanover in 2016.

This year marks the start of a new string of games. The teams are scheduled to play each of the next two seasons and six times through 2028.

“Kind of a maturing group,” Teevens said when asked about his team. “The absence of football a year ago and then not being on campus and being able to work together for a two-year separation … we had two classes who didn’t know the older two classes. What we saw the first game looked like we hadn’t played in two years. And in the second game we played a little bit better. And in the third game a little bit better. Fourth game we had a really solid opponent in Yale. We weren’t as productive offensively as we would have hoped. Played pretty good defense. Each step of the way we’ve improved a little bit.” 

The UNH defense will face a Dartmouth offense that alternates a pair of quarterbacks who enter the game depending on the situation. Derek Kyler is far more likely to throw the ball and Nick Howard will generally direct a running game.

“It’s a really unique thing and I haven’t seen a whole lot of this in my tenure,” McDonnell said. “They do a great job with it. When Nick Howard comes in, it’s a power offense. They’re going to run the football with him and they’ll do some very good schemes.”

Kyler, 6-foot and 180 pounds, has completed 71 percent of his passes (59 of 83), which is fourth best in all of FCS. He’s passed for seven touchdowns and has not been intercepted.

Howard, 6-foot-2 and 230, has averaged 7.2 yards on his 49 carries and has scored six touchdowns.

Running back Zack Bair averages 6.2 yards on his 54 carries and has two rushing touchdowns and also has caught a pair of TD passes.

It’s time for the UNH offense to step up, senior center Matt Mascia said. The Wildcats scored one touchdown on offense in each of the last two losses, to James Madison and the week before to Pittsburgh.

“We look back at JMU and I’ll say it, that game was on us,” Mascia said. “The defense played excellent. They scored 14 points for us. They’re out there holding an excellent JMU offense to 24 points. If you would have written that script for us, I think we would have won that game nine out of 10 times based on saying we have to go out there and score two touchdowns. We all have to sit back on that and reflect and be like, ‘we didn’t get our job done.’ That just adds fuel to the fire.”


  • Dartmouth opened the season with a 28-18 win at Valparaiso.  The Big Green also has wins over Sacred Heart, 41-3, and Penn, 31-7.
  • UNH and Dartmouth are among the least penalized teams in FCS.
  • The Big Green has been penalized 15 times for 155 yards in its four games.
  • UNH has been penalized 19 times in its five games for 143 yards.
  • Rhode Island leads the CAA with a 3-0 record.  Villanova and William & Mary are 2-0 in league games.  UNH, Delaware, James Madison and Elon are all 2-1. Towson is 1-1.


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