New Hampshire Football Report

UNH can’t afford to lose

By Allen Lessels

DURHAM – It’s quite straight-forward now. The University of New Hampshire football team’s 2023 season of great expectations has come down to this: The Wildcats need to win out, sweep their last three regular season games to even have a chance to make the NCAA Division I FCS tournament.

The Wildcats have a 4-4 overall record and 2-3 mark in the Coastal Athletic Association going into Saturday’s 1 p.m. game in Wildcat Stadium against No. 17 Villanova, which is 6-2 overall and 4-1 in the league.


Winning out will be a tall task. Villanova, also the Wildcats, is the highest ranked team UNH has faced this season and features a balanced offense with a powerful rushing attack and a stingy defense and is looking for a fourth straight win.

UNH is coming off a 34-28 loss in overtime last Saturday in Rhode Island. That defeat snapped a two-game win streak, the best this season for the Wildcats.

It was another excruciating, what-could-have-been, setback. Two of UNH’s losses have been in overtime and the other two have been by four points at Delaware, which at the time was No. 19 in the country and now is No. 5 at 7-1 and a perfect 5-0 in the CAA, and 45-42 on a last-second field goal at Central Michigan, an FBS team.

“You look back on last year and a couple of close games that easily could have gone either way and we make one or two plays and win,” said coach Rick Santos. “We’re the same football team and we are very good, but unfortunately the wins and losses don’t show that right now.”

There is absolutely no wiggle room when it comes to the 24-team FCS tournament. CAA teams that finish 7-4 are generally given strong consideration by the FCS selection committee for at-large berths in the event.

“We’ve had a few of those heartbreaking losses this year,” said junior linebacker Ryan Toscano of Bedford, the team leader in tackles with 55. “As a team. We’re right there. We just have to find a way to finish.”

They must do so quickly.

Villanova knocked off Rhode Island, 35-9, at home on Sept. 23 for its first league win, lost at UAlbany, 31-10, and then strung together wins at North Carolina A&T, 37-14, at home against Elon, 21-0, and Stony Brook, 48-13.

Knocking off Villanova is Step 1 of a three-stage process for UNH.

Junior quarterback Max Brosmer and senior running back Dylan Laube and the gang need to follow that up with a win Nov. 11 at Monmouth and then another at home against Maine on Nov. 18.

Those two games are dangerous, too.

Monmouth is 3-5 overall and 2-3 in the league and averages just under 35 points and more than 200 yards rushing, led by the leading ground gainer in all of FCS at Jaden Shirden (146.6 yards per game with 8 TDs) and Sone Ntoh, who has 12 rushing scores.

The Black Bears (2-7 overall, 1-5 in the CAA) might enjoy knocking UNH out of the playoff picture – if they get the chance – even more than getting their hands on the Brice-Cowell Musket and busing it back up I-95 to Orono.

More on those games and further and possible playoff implications later.

First, UNH must get past Villanova.

Brosmer, Santos said, is excited for the challenge.

“He loves these opportunities,” Santos said. “He’d rather play against one of the best defenses in the country where he can kind of test where he’s at in his development.”

Brosmer completed a career-best 41 passes in a career-high 60 attempts against Rhode Island for 430 yards and two touchdowns, while also running for a score.

In the process, he jumped Sean Goldrich, Ryan Day and Bob Jean into the No. 3 spot in the UNH record books with 7,932 passing yards. R.J. Toman at No. 2 (8,015) and Santos (12,189) at No. 1 are the only quarterbacks ahead of him.


Those who would like to help New Hampshire Football Report promote football in the Granite State can do so by purchasing a New Hampshire Football Report membership or by making a donation below.  Sponsorship inquiries can be sent to Your support is greatly appreciated.

You must be logged in to post a comment Login