By GREG LAUDANI
The UNH football team shocked the CAA on Saturday night with a 30-25 statement win over conference juggernaut University of Richmond, which entered the game with an unbeaten 5-0 record against CAA teams this season and a No. 5 ranking in the FCS.
New Hampshire (5-4, 3-3 CAA) also snapped Richmond’s seven-game winning streak, and the win will likely work wonders for UNH’s chances to grab a playoff spot after getting the best of the top team in the conference.
Wildcats quarterback Sean Goldrich helped get his team out to a 21-7 halftime lead with a rushing touchdown and a scoring toss to receiver Kyon Taylor. Richmond battled back in the second half and cut the lead down to 27-25 early in the fourth quarter.
UNH kicker Christian Breda hit a late 29-yard field goal to extend the lead to 30-25 with 6:35 remaining in regulation. Linebacker Ryan Farrell sealed the win for the Wildcats after picking off a Kyle Lauletta pass in the final minutes to halt Richmond’s comeback hopes.
“I’m real proud of the way the team played,” UNH head coach Sean McDonnell said. “I thought [we] showed a lot of resiliency. [The Spiders] threw a lot of punches. We countered.”
The Wildcats defense intercepted Lauletta four times Saturday to slow down a Richmond offense that had averaged 37.9 points per game. Defensive back Patrick Mensah pulled down two of those, giving his offense extra opportunities to score.
Following the win, Mensah said the Wildcats defense was zoned in.
“I think we just read our keys well,” he said. “We were focused and that’s what we need, we need turnovers. I think we just kept the course and stayed focused.”
Goldrich and the offense took advantage of their additional possessions by putting up points early and often. The quarterback completed 21 of 36 passes for 264 yards and two touchdowns through the air. He also added a one-yard scoring run in the first quarter.
UNH gained 468 total yards with 304 through the air and 168 on the ground. Wildcats quarterback Adam Riese played the first series of the game and completed all four of his passes for 40 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown to tight end Jordan Powell.
Goldrich played the rest of the way and helped his team capture a statement win.
“We needed to let them know we weren’t going to back down to them,” Goldrich said. “We came out, took some shots on them, made some plays, and I think that helped us throughout the whole game by keeping them on their toes.”
Perhaps the most critical pass Goldrich threw was his three-yard touchdown pass to Powell in the third that extended UNH’s lead to 27-15. The score came in response to a 34-yard touchdown from Lauletta to receiver Brian Brown that narrowed the Wildcats’ lead down to 21-15.
Powell, who finished with two touchdowns and 65 yards receiving, said UNH showed what it is made of on Saturday.
“Mostly everyone in the CAA is thinking we’re done, thinking we’re down and thinking we’re beating ourselves up and packing it in for the season,” he said. “We knew our season was basically riding on this – we don’t win then there was no shot at the playoffs – we have been in there for a while so we want to be there again.”
UNH’s offensive productivity in key moments was something McDonnell was pleased to watch.
“When it got close there in the fourth quarter, we made a stop and then drove the ball pretty well,” he said. “We executed on offense and I thought we had the same type of momentum that we had in the Rhode Island second half. We really did some things to move the ball and a lot of different people touched the ball and made plays.”
Speaking of productivity, Richmond running back Jacobi Green had himself a day with 154 yards on 22 carries. He averaged 7.0 yards per carry and his power style made it very difficult for Wildcat defenders to get him to the ground.
On the other side, UNH did not have its go-to runner, Dalton Crossan, who sat out Saturday’s game with a hamstring injury. Running backs Trevon Bryant and Donald Goodrich filled in for Crossan and helped New Hampshire gain 164 total yards on the ground.
Bryant rushed for 88 yards on 19 attempts while Goodrich picked up 51 yards on 11 carries.
Goldrich said the offense’s success in Crossan’s absence is a testament to the team’s next-man-up mentality.
“That’s a great thing about our team – some guy goes down, someone steps up,” he said. “We have confidence in everyone that’s out there that they are going to make plays for us. We did that today and it was awesome to see that everyone out there is capable of making these plays.”
New Hampshire hits the road next weekend to take on the University at Albany on Saturday, Nov. 14 at 7 p.m. in search of its third-straight conference win.
‘Cats stun No. 5 Richmond
By GREG LAUDANI