New Hampshire Football Report

Up next: Holy Cross

DURHAM – His teammates and coaches and all associated with the University of New Hampshire football team loved – absolutely loved – the way junior running back Dylan Laube kick-started the Wildcats to a resounding 52-42 triumph over Fordham on Saturday in the opening round of the NCAA FCS Division I tournament.

Man, did they get a kick out of Laube’s first touch of the night – along with his school record 424 yards of offense and his four touchdowns and all that followed, for that matter.

The No. 15-ranked Wildcats moved on in their first tournament appearance since 2017 and will play a second-round game at Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., on Saturday at noon. The Crusaders are 11-0 and earned the No. 8 seed for the FCS playoffs. They won the Patriot League championship with a 6-0 league mark that featured a 53-52 overtime win at home against Fordham on Oct. 29.

UNH, which won a share of the Colonial Athletic Association championship with a 7-1 record in the league, is 9-3 overall.

The winner of Saturday’s UNH-Holy Cross plays either South Dakota State or Delaware in the quarterfinals.  Delaware knocked off St. Francis (Pa.), 56-17, on Saturday and plays at No. 1 South Dakota State next weekend.

After the game, Santos, Laube, sophomore quarterback Max Brosmer and sophomore defensive end Josiah Silver came to the press conference.

Santos lauded the play of the team overall and the offensive line, the work of offensive coordinator Brian Scott and Garrett Gillick for the defense, among other facets of the performance.

The head coach and the others pretty much chuckled and shook their heads whenever Laube’s name came up.

“Like everyone has mentioned, we’ve got Dylan Laube,” Silver said. “Everyone sees it. He outruns people, which is crazy. You meet him at a spot and he’ll just outrun you. It’s not just that he’s fast. He’s powerful. He’s one of the strongest people on the team.”

On the first possession of the game, Silver stripped a Fordham running back of the ball and UNH safety Joe Eichman recovered on the UNH 4-yard line to stop the dangerous Rams as they threatened to score.

Brosmer connected with redshirt freshman receiver Joey Corcoran for 9 yards on UNH’s first offensive play of the game.

The team’s second play started innocently enough. Brosmer faked a handoff and then passed to Laube at about the line of scrimmage on the right side.

Laube beat defenders to the right sideline and simply took off. Corcoran contributed a nice block and senior receiver Brian Espanet raced over to provide an escort into the end zone.

On their way in, at about the 20-yard line, Laube and Espanet exchanged a high five.

“I was running alongside him and I hear him yell, ‘Hey, Hey,’” Espanet said Sunday afternoon. “I looked over and knew instantly what he was thinking and put the five up. It’s something we’ll never forget, that’s for sure.”

The two buddies have high-fived in similar fashion a few times in practice.

“I never thought I’d be able to catch him in a game to make it work,” Espanet said. “It was pretty cool. Social media loved it and the fans loved it, it was pretty cool to see their reaction, too.”

Santos made note of the celebration on his Twitter account: “Great teams have great teammates. We not me!!! Gotta love a good high-five.”

If you’re one of the likely few football fans who have yet to see the video, go check it out. It won’t be hard to find.

Talk about setting a tone.

Laube went on to have a monster game and the first four and a half minutes set the stage for what was to come.

The play before the fumble, it took a great play by safety Max Oxendine to stop a 45-yard run by Trey Sneed and keep the Rams out of the end zone.

Yes, the Wildcat defense – playing at times with newcomers in a banged-up secondary — gave up yards and points, but it also kept Fordham under its lofty averages in both and came up huge when needed.

Brosmer had two more TD passes in the first quarter – 7 yards to senior Sean Coyne and 65 to grad student Heron Maurisseau. After the second, UNH led 21-7.

On Fordham’s next two plays, UNH redshirt freshman safety Brendan Tighe and then junior cornerback Randall Harris picked off Tim DeMorat passes.

When the defense wasn’t making a stop, the offense was doing its part to keep DeMorat and Fordhan’s offense off the field by chewing up yards and scoring points.

UNH’s 664 yards of total offense and 52 points were both the best numbers since the Wildcats stopped Lehigh exactly six years prior on Nov. 26, 2016, with 637 yards in a 64-21 win, also in the first round of the NCAAs.

Laube rushed 29 times for 157 yards and three touchdowns and caught four passes for 127 yards and the score. He also returned kickoffs and punts.

Santos knew Laube was getting a workout, but he kept getting the ball.

“I was a little tired,” Laube said. “But I’m fine. Our offense, as the game goes on, we get more and more comfortable, especially with our line. As the game goes on, we get bigger and bigger and better runs. At the end of the day, we are a methodical offense.”

He led all of FCS in all-purpose yards coming into the game at 179.2 yards a game and way more than doubled that total. Stephan Lewis had the previous UNH high mark of 364 yards against Massachusetts on Oct. 13, 2001.

Brian Westbrook, a former Villanova and Philadelphia Eagle standout, holds the CAA record at 458 all-purpose yards in a game against Delaware.

Laube’s 424 ranks third best in the CAA (Westbrook had a 428-yard game as well) and 11th best in FCS history.

Brosmer completed 18 of his 34 passes for 348 yards and for the second week in a row had three touchdown passes. Each of those six passes has been to a different Wildcat, by the way.

“I think he (Brosmer) probably got sick of how many times I told him how good Tim DeMorat was,” Santos said. “And he prepared extra hard and got locked in one gameday and continued to get better as the game went along. Our guys prepared extremely well and then they rose to the occasion and that’s what we’re most excited about.”

Maurisseau had an impressive and efficient game as well. He caught the one pass for the 65-yard TD, then opened the second half with jet sweep to the right that went for 71 yards and a score on his only carry of the game.

Bottom line, Fordham wanted to turn the game into a track meet and shootout.

Laube, Maurisseau, Brosmer and Co. were happy to oblige.


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