New Hampshire Football Report

UNH braces for Elon

DURHAM – Since Day 1 of the season, the 25th-ranked University of New Hampshire football team has gotten a boost from the play of its special team units.  So too has No. 21 Elon University.

Both will be looking to keep that success going in Saturday’s Colonial Athletic Association showdown between two of the league’s top teams in Wildcat Stadium (1 p.m.) for UNH’s Family Weekend game.

“That’s going to be one of the things that decides the game, I think,” said UNH junior linebacker Bryce Shaw. “They’ve got a good special teams unit. We’ve got a good special teams unit. Coach McLaughlin (special teams coach Garrett McLaughlin), he scouts guys up all week and does crazy things. He’s been able to throw a lot of things at guys.”

UNH comes into the game off a 14-0 win at Dartmouth last Saturday, its first shutout since Oct. 27, 2018 and its first blanking of the Big Green.

The Wildcats expect to have all-purpose junior running back Dylan Laube against Elon. Laube leads the team in rushing with 577 yards and six rushing touchdowns in six games. He did not play against Dartmouth because of a shoulder injury.

Elon fell at No. 25 Rhode Island, 17-10, last weekend.

The Wildcats are 5-2 overall and are the only team undefeated in league play at 4-0.

A string of tough tests lie straight ahead: Six teams have lost one game in CAA play heading into the weekend and UNH plays four of them to close out the regular season.

First up, Elon, which is 5-2 and 3-1. The Phoenix has CAA wins at No. 14 William & Mary, 35-31; at home against No. 17 Richmond, 30-27 in two overtimes; and at home against Towson,  27-10.

 “Elon’s very good,” UNH coach Rick Santos said. “This is going to be the best FCS team we’ve faced all year by far and we’ve got to be ready for it.”

The Wildcats impressed out of the gate on special teams.

Sophomore defensive end Josiah Silver blocked the second punt UNH saw of the season in the opener against Monmouth and junior wide receiver Charles Briscoe III scooped the ball and returned it 35 yards for a touchdown. Briscoe has also blocked a punt during the season and Silver has run for a first down on a fake punt.

“Charles is definitely showing up on how to block punts,” Santos said. “He gives great effort on a couple different teams. Gavin Urda, a backup corner, is finding a way and starts on a couple different teams. He did a really good job last weekend downing balls inside the 5-yard line.”

It all adds up.

“Special teams is definitely the third phase of the game,” said Shaw, who appears on the kickoff team and other units from time to time. “Not a lot of people think about it, but that’s a huge part of the game, for sure. When you can keep them guessing on the third phase, that’s a huge advantage you have.”

For Elon, Johncarlos Miller II has blocked a field goal in two of the last three games. Skyler Davis is 11 for 14 on field goals.

UNH redshirt freshman kicker Nick Mazzie has made five of his field goals and 21 of 22 conversion kicks. His only field goal miss was blocked against Dartmouth.

The Wildcats are committing to special teams play, Santos said.

“I think you’ve got to give credit to coach Garrett McLaughlin and how he’s getting those guys prepared,” Santos said. “Our motto on special teams is, ‘We care more.’ And those guys truly do. They’re buying in. The guys on the offensive side are buying in more than ever. It’s typically been guys on the defensive side who have taken most of the reps on that and I think the receivers, Charles Briscoe in particular, are just showing up and really taking pride in their efforts and it’s been very productive for us.”

Against Towson, Mazzie’s onside kick to open the game was covered by grad student tight end Adam Deese, setting up the first of three Mazzie field goals in the game.

The only other points of the first quarter came on a 92-yard punt return by Laube.

Junior Sean Lehane’s punting and the coverage team helped control field position against Dartmouth as they have all season.  The team’s kickoff return defense ranks No. 13 in FCS.

UNH adjusted its approach to special teams a bit for this season.

“Historically under coach Coach Mac (Sean McDonnell), we had two coaches take one unit each and there’s been collective energy that we’ve put forth to be productive there,” Santos said. “This is the first time we’ve actually had a special teams coordinator. I think Coach McLaughlin’s done a phenomenal job really taking a lot of the workload off the other coaches and putting together a spirited effort.”


Saturday’s game matches first-year head coach Santos against a man who helped bring him to UNH.  Manchester native Tony Trisciani is in his fourth season as head coach at Elon.

Trisciani was in his second stint as an assistant coach with the Wildcats when he helped recruit Santos to the school.  Trisciani was a defensive backs coach at the time and said in the CAA media call Monday that he and his fellow defensive coaches would get frustrated by the success Santos was having against the first-team defense when he played on the scout team as a true freshman.

Turns out Santos, who got the reins of the team as quarterback the next year as a result of an injury to the starter, had success against everyone during his standout career.


Matthew McKay, Elon’s 6-foot-4 and 212-pound quarterback, has passed for 1,813 yards and 14 touchdowns with three interceptions. He is also second on the team in rushing with 263 yards and three TDs.

McKay began his career at North Carolina State and started five games there in 2019. He played at Montana State last year and led the Bobcats to a 12-3 record and the FCS tournament, throwing for 17 TDs and three interceptions.

— Redshirt freshman running back Jalen Hampton has 545 rushing yards and five touchdowns.

— Elon, like UNH, has five receivers with more than 100 receiving yards. Bryson Daughtry has 31 catches for 588 yards and four touchdowns and Jackson Parham has 34 catches for 498 yards and four TDs.

— UNH sophomore quarterback Max Brosmer has completed 137 of his 216 passes (63.4 percent) for 1,504 yards and 12 touchdowns with five interceptions.

— With Laube missing against Dartmouth, sophomore Isaac Seide delivered a breakout day with a career-best 127 yards on 26 carries.

— Senior Brian Espanet and freshman D.J. Linkins each have three TD receptions for UNH. Redshirt freshman Joey Corcoran leads the team with 33 catches for 389 yards with a pair of touchdowns.

— Grad student safety and captain Pop Bush leads UNH with 32 tackles.

— Silver is second in the CAA with seven quarterback sacks and Dylan Ruiz, a sophomore defensive end, has 6.5 sacks.


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