New Hampshire Football Report

UNH’s Silver Lining

DURHAM – It didn’t take long for freshman Josiah Silver to establish himself as a force on the defensive line for the University of New Hampshire football team.

Silver and junior Gunner Gibson, playing the defensive end spots at opposite ends of the line, each sacked the quarterback twice in UNH’s third game of the season, a 19-13 win at Lafayette.

Silver’s impressive play has continued and now he’s getting noticed nationally. On Thursday, he was one of 22 players named to the watch list for the Stats Perform Jerry Rice Award, an award that honors the national freshman of the year in the FCS.

“He’s been outstanding,” UNH head coach Sean McDonnell said. “He’s done a really good job of knowing and understanding the schemes we’re running. He’s got some knacks. He can bend. When he’s pass rushing, he can really dip and get underneath some stuff. We send him on twists or a line move and he can find that gap.”

Silver, Gibson and the rest of the Wildcat defenders plan to rush, fill gaps and get sacks Saturday when UNH takes on Richmond in Wildcat Stadium at 1 p.m. for a Halloweekend game

UNH and Richmond are in similar situations.

The Wildcats have lost four straight games after winning their first three to sit at 3-4 overall and 2-2 in the Colonial Athletic Association.

Richmond, with one of the stingiest defenses in the league, won its first two games and has lost its last five. The Spiders are 2-5 overall and 0-4 in the CAA.

The UNH defense played better last week after a rough showing in a loss to Dartmouth, but gave up a couple of long touchdowns in a 24-10 defeat at Elon.

The Wildcats have shown signs of being a good team on both sides of the ball, but haven’t put it all together in recent weeks, McDonnell said.

Silver has been one of the bright spots. He’s 6-foot-2 and 227 pounds and took over a starting spot when Brian Carter opted to not return for a final season of eligibility this fall.

Silver has sacked the quarterback at least once in each of UNH’s last four FCS games. He had 1.5 sacks in the win over Elon and is up to 6.5 sacks for the season.

The 6.5 total ranks him at No. 16 in the FCS at .93 per game and he’s second among freshmen, behind Jared Verse of UAlbany who has 7.5 sacks.

Silver committed to UNH out of high school in Hampton, Va., late in the recruiting process. He had 27 sacks in a big senior year in 2019 and Wildcat coaches saw his film and came calling.

“Going into my senior year, I had one scholarship offer,” Silver said. “A lot of schools wanted me to come on a partial scholarship or as a walk-on. I believed in myself more than that.”

He took UNH up on its offer.

The Wildcats rank second in the CAA with 20 sacks as a team – Gibson has five to go with Silver’s 6.5, senior defensive tackle Elijah Lewis has 3.5 and junior defensive tackle Niko Kvietkus has a pair.

Overall, the defense will look to keep pace with Richmond on Saturday. The Spiders have allowed 19.7 points a game, which is third best in the CAA.

The Wildcats will also be looking for a better start to the game.

Elon scored on 58-yard pass play less than a minute into last week’s game and the opponent has scored first in UNH’s last five games.

“We need to start out explosively, whether it’s on defense or offense,” said sophomore receiver Griffin Helm, who scored his first career touchdown against Elon on a 5-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Bret Edwards. “If we go out first on defense, we need to get a three and out. If it’s offense, we need to have a good drive and get a touchdown.”

Time is running short with just four games remaining on the schedule, starting with Richmond, said grad student safety and captain Evan Horn.

“Obviously four in a row isn’t the greatest feeling in the world,” Horn said. “Those games are in the past and you can’t do anything to control them. Personally, I only have four games left (overall) and some of the other seniors have four games left, it’s not like there’s much time to wait. We’re going to be ready to go.”

XTRA POINTS  

  • Richmond lost at Stony Brook, 27-14, last week.  The Spiders turned the ball over six times, four times on fumbles.
  • Joe Mancuso, returning to his quarterback job after missing time with a broken finger, threw two interceptions. He completed 21 of his 43 passes for 196 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
  • The Richmond defense allowed 82 yards rushing and 308 yards of total defense.
  • Aaron Dykes has scored seven touchdowns for the Spiders: four rushing, two on passes and one on a 98-yard kickoff return. He has three career kickoff returns for TDs.
  • Linebacker Tristan Wheeler is tied for the CAA lead with 68 tackles, 9.7 per game.
  • Fellow linebacker Tyler Dresser has 50 tackles.
  • Kobie Turner, a 6-foot-3, 290-pound defensive lineman, was named the league Co-Defensive Player of the Year for last spring’s season.
  • Richmond had a 3-1 record in the spring.
  • UNH leads the series between the teams, 13-10, and has won the last five games.
  • The teams last met on Nov. 7, 2015 in Durham.
  • The Wildcats won, 36-25.

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