Sophomore defensive tackle Ryan Sosnak scooped up the Towson University fumble and went 39 yards for the touchdown, giving the Wildcats a 21-7 lead which proved to be the final score.
The Tigers’ offense was stifled all game by the Wildcats defense. Quarterback Ellis Knudson struggled to find a rhythm, throwing for 111 yards, zero touchdowns and had two turnovers that led to 14 Wildcat points.
His first turnover came midway through the second quarter at Towson’s own 10-yard line. Knudson’s pass ended up in freshman Prince Smith Jr.’s hands as the UNH cornerback had a clear path to the end zone for the touchdown, giving the ‘Cats a 14-7 lead.
“Last week we had a couple breakdowns in the secondary and let a couple passes away from us. Today it feels good to hold them just to seven,” Smith Jr. said following the win.
Coming out of the halftime break trailing by a touchdown, Knudson was sacked by senior captain Ryan Farrell and fumbled on his first dropback. The senior linebacker broke through the Tigers’ offensive line on a blitz and forced the ball out of Knudson’s hand as he went down. Sosnak ran down the loose ball, corralled it and was escorted to the end zone by various UNH teammates.
The Wildcats now leads the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) in defensive touchdowns, with two on Saturday and five total. The entire UNH defense stood stout against the Tigers, holding them to 191 yards of total offense.
“We were very dedicated to stopping the run today… It just was good to see our guys respond after a tough game last week,” head coach Sean McDonnell said.
After attempting 70 passes last week against James Madison University, McDonnell’s offense returned to normalcy, running 40 times as oppose to their 18 passes. The legs of senior running back Dalton Crossan and sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight paced the UNH offense throughout the day, limited mistakes and ran out the clock when they needed to.
Knight and the offense’s lone touchdown came at 3:30 in the first quarter as the sophomore avoided pressure, ran down the left side and scored a 29-yard rushing touchdown for the opening score of the game. Crossan ran for a team-high 83 yards to support Knight’s 63 yards and touchdown.
“It was an RPO (read-pass option) play, I actually made a bad read on it. It was just me and this blitzing linebacker in the hole, I made a pump fake, he fell for it and the hole was wide open so I just hit that.,” Knight said about his touchdown run.
Coming off of a disappointing performance last week against JMU in which they allowed 42 points, the entire UNH defense played a part in their best performance of the season. Redshirt freshman safety Rick Ellison led the Wildcats in tackles with nine.
The Tigers’ lone score came on the kick return following Smith Jr.’s touchdown, redshirt freshman running back Shane Simpson ran it 100 yards with 7:06 remaining in the first half. Simpson also led Towson with 53 rushing yards as their offense failed to score a touchdown and fall to 1-6 overall and 0-4 in Colonial Athletic Association play.
With both offenses unable to find success against their opponents’ defense, the difference came in the playmaking ability of the UNH defense. Smith Jr.’s pick-six and Sosnak’s scoop and score were the difference as UNH avoids back-to-back losses and improves to 5-3 overall, 4-1 in CAA play.
The Wildcats return home this week to take on conference foe, Stony Brook University in the ‘Real ‘Cats Wear Pink’ game. The Seawolves are 4-0 in the CAA this season and are coming off of a 28-3 victory at the University of Delaware on Saturday. The game will be played Saturday, Oct. 29 at Wildcat Stadium at 12 p.m.