UNH kicks off the Wildcat Stadium era with 39-28 win
With a record crowd of 13,242 cheering them on, the UNH football team defeated the Holy Cross Crusaders 39-28 in the heavily anticipated debut of Wildcat Stadium.
Led by senior running back Dalton Crossan’s career night, the Wildcats were able to overcome a 21-13 halftime deficit. Crossan rushed for a career-high 199 yards and two touchdowns, while his fellow running mate Trevon Bryant found success to the tune of 79 yards and one touchdown on nine carries.
“We were on the sideline and we knew we had them. We knew that we could run the ball on them,” Crossan said after the contest.
Last year against Elon, Crossan ran for 140 yards, a career high at the time. On Saturday night, he had that in the third quarter. The bruiser paced the offense alongside sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight for 552 total yards of offense. The quarterback’s first career home start began slowly, with an interception on the opening drive and 84 yards passing in the first half. It picked up in the second half for Knight, as he combined 190-yards passing and two touchdowns with 87-yards rushing for the ‘Cats in the win.
Crossan kept the Wildcats in it by scoring both his touchdowns in the first half, including a 56-yard run through multiple Crusader defenders one play after an impressive Knight rushing touchdown that was wiped due to a penalty. The senior running back’s big first half opened up space for Knight to pass, as well as Bryant to get loose. A 62-yard passing touchdown from Knight to sophomore wide receiver Rory Donovan gave the Wildcats their first lead of the season 32-28, with 1:17 left in the third quarter. The UNH defense did its job, preventing any points from being scored from that point until the end of the game.
“I thought our defensive backs, when they settled in, did a really good job of slowing [the Crusader offense] down a little bit,” head coach Sean McDonnell said. “[Peter Pujals] is the real deal, just what I thought he was going to be.”
After Holy Cross senior quarterback Peter Pujals tossed his third touchdown with 11:51 remaining in the second quarter, the Wildcats faced their largest deficit of 15, by way of 21-6. From then on, UNH outscored the Crusaders 33-7, including 20 unanswered to end the game. Pujals was slowed in the second half and ended his day with an interception on each of his last two drives. Senior captain Casey DeAndrade took the first one back for a touchdown to seal the 39-28 victory for UNH with 2:10 left in the game. Freshman cornerback Prince Smith Jr. intercepted Pujals in the end zone on the following drive, allowing the Wildcat offense to kneel out the remaining clock.
“Their quarterback was great. I mean, he’s one of the best quarterbacks I’ve seen since I’ve been here,” DeAndrade said in regards to Pujals.
The young guys around DeAndrade in the secondary stepped up big in the second half. Freshman safety Pop Lacey everywhere on the field, recording 14 tackles and one pass breakup. Fellow safeties, junior D’Andre Drummond Mayrie and redshirt freshman Michael Balsamo, combined for 12 tackles to complement the efforts of Lacey and DeAndrade. Senior defensive end Cam Shorey tallied 1.5 tackles for a loss of yards and two quarterback hits. On the other side of the line, sophomore defensive end Jae’Wuan Horton recorded his second sack of the season and four total tackles.
The Wildcats will to continue this success next Saturday at 7 p.m. when they travel to Dartmouth to take on a familiar foe in the Big Green. The game will be the Ivy League representatives first game of the season.