Another week of UNH football has passed and the Wildcats have still yet to secure a victory.
UNH went down to North Carolina this past weekend to face off against Elon University hoping to secure their first win of the 2018 season. The Wildcats ended up falling to the Phoenix 30-9 as the team continued to struggle all around.
The same story continued to follow the Wildcats, the offense struggled mightily and the defense was on the field far too often and couldn’t make stops.
First-year wide receiver Sean Coyne scored his first career touchdown, and it was the only touchdown the ‘Cats would get. Coyne took a handoff at the 25-yard line and was able to find the end zone. He also finished the day with a team high five catches for 25 yards. Neil O’Connor finished the day with four catches for 56 yards, but failed to find the end zone. O’Connor’s efforts in this one moved him up to sixth all time in career receptions at UNH (185).
The UNH offense has seemed out of place with the absence of senior quarterback Trevor Knight, who was injured in the season opener against Maine back on Aug. 30.
Knights backup Christian Lupoli has done his best to fill the void over the past five weeks, but has not been able to get the Wildcat offense to full force. Lupoli completed 16 of 27 passes for a career high 174 yards and one touchdown. Other than his one touchdown pass, Lupoli was unable to guide the Wildcats into the end zone.
“Another tough loss, you have to take advantage of some of the situations we got in. We got into the red zone and didn’t get any points out of it. Gave up a huge touchdown at the end of the first half after a decent drive,” Head Coach Sean McDonnell said in an interview with UNH Insider.
The defense has shown glimpses of promise throughout this season, but a lack of tackling has opened up space for teams to score. Defensive captain Quinlen Dean recorded 12 tackles, which helped him eclipse 200 career tackles, bringing his total to 205. Safety Pop Lacey also helped Dean out recording 11 tackles, the two Wildcats lead all players in tackles, but the UNH defense still managed to give up 30 points.
Elon’s hurry up offense jumped out of the gates quickly, marching down the field 75 yards on 11 plays to take an early 7-0 lead. UNH followed with their own fast start, storming down the field on 7 plays capped off with a career long 41-yard field goal from kicker Jason Hughes.
In the second quarter Elon extended their lead to 14-3. The UNH defense gave up a 15 yard completion on 3 and 8, Elon capitalized on the conversion completing a 25 yards pass to get to the Wildcats 25, and two plays later the Phoenix scored on a rushing touchdown up the middle.
On the next drive UNH answered again, this time completing a 75-yard touchdown drive. Lupoli completed a 26-yard pass to Washington Jr. who then extended the drive with a 15 yard run on 3rd and 8. Sean Coyne then capped off the drive with a 25 yard inside handoff to the house.
On the following Elon drive, UNH committed two 15-yard penalties which moved the Phoenix to the Wildcat 40. After three completions, Elon had first and goal and Jalen Greene took a direct snap from the shotgun and ran in for the score, extending Elon’s lead to 24-9.
Elon would complete the game with two more field goals in the second half to win 30-9. In an interview with UNH insider, Coach McDonnell had praise for the Elon quarterback.
“They’re a good football team. They did what they did. I thought Davis Cheeks was exceptional. He put the ball on people down in open spaces. Heck of a win for them. Tough loss for us”.
The Wildcats will have a great opportunity to secure their first win of the season this weekend as they face off against Holy Cross. This game against the Crusaders will kick off a three game home stand for the Wildcats.
Holy Cross, like the Wildcats, has struggled this year coming into the game sitting at 1-4. Being at home will be a big a advantage for UNH, the Wildcats haven’t been at home since week two and the energy around campus is high as football is back in Durham.
It seems as if Trevor Knight will be out again this week as he continues to recover from his week one injury. Lupoli will benefit from being at home and should be able to continue finding receivers like trusted target Neil O’Connor to help make big plays.
At this point in the season it seems likely that the nation-leading 14-year playoff streak will end, but the Wildcats will be sure to take it one game at a time and try to make the most of this season.