Footballs frustration continued as they suffered their sixth loss of the season to the #24 University of Delaware (5-2, 3-1 in conference) on Saturday.
“It’s kind of hard to point at what the problem is,” senior defensive end and captain Jae’Wuan Horton said about his teams play this season. “There’s a lot of things that happen. You can’t just blame offense, defense or special teams. It’s a collaborative effort. We just have to do a better job as a whole finishing the game.”
Horton is accurate, as all Wildcats struggled in all three facets of the game in this 38-14 loss. The Wildcats showed flashes of good play, but their struggles were on display most of the afternoon.
The most obvious play that showed the ‘Cats struggles came when Delaware senior defensive back/returner Nasir Adderley returned a kick return 92 yards for a touchdown. It was far from a normal return for a touchdown, though. The ‘Cats had good kick coverage and were in position to tackle Adderley down around his own 25-yard line near the sideline. Adderley trucked a would-be tackle from a UNH defender, and the ‘Cats just completely froze. Instead of finishing the play and bringing Adderley down, seven different Wildcats stopped and Delaware’s returner wisely continued running and returned the kick for a touchdown to extend the Blue Horn’s lead to 38-14.
“About everything that could go wrong, went wrong today,” UNH Head Coach Sean McDonnell said. “I’m seeing things I haven’t seen in a long time.”
McDonnell also shared his thoughts on the season as a whole.
“Very frustrated. I think everybody in the program’s frustrated. Players, coaches, fans, everybody. This is not what we’re accustomed to and how we’re supposed to play,” he said.
The kickoff return erased the progress UNH made on the previous play, a 55-yard fumble return for a touchdown from senior defensive end Kyle Reisert to bring the Wildcats within striking distance. The defensive score made it 31-14 at the time, with 13:39 left to play.
The loss brings the Wildcats to 1-6 overall and 0-4 in Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) play.
Senior quarterback Trevor Knight struggled in this game, as it was easily his worst performance of the season so far.
Although he was the leading passer of the game, Knight completed just 58% of his passes (17-29) and threw for only 127 yards for the afternoon (4.37 yards per attempt).
The major problem with Knight’s performance were his costly three interceptions.
His first pick came with just over a minute left in the first half. Starting at their own 19-yard line, UNH’s first play of the possession was picked off by a Blue Hen’s defender and Delaware was able to score off the turnover to extend their lead to 17-7 heading into halftime.
Knight’s second interception came midway through the fourth quarter when UNH was in Delaware territory, and after that turnover any hope for a UNH comeback win on parent’s weekend diminished. Knight threw his final pick late in the fourth, when the game was already out of hand.
The Wildcat’s only offensive touchdown came on a fourth down run by junior running back Evan Gray in the second quarter. Gray took the handoff from the 1-yard line and was able to scurry across the goal line, cutting Delaware’s lead to 10-7 at the time.
The defense was put in tough spots all day due to the offense’s inability to drive down the field. Along with allowing the kick return for a touchdown, UNH’s special team’s unit also had a punt blocked in the game and failed to convert their only field goal opportunity from 33-yards out.
Overall, it was another disappointing day for a team that was ranked inside the top 10 nationally in the preseason.
The ‘Cats will look to bounce back against another disappointing CAA team, Villanova (3-4, 0-4 in conference).
‘Nova was also nationally ranked in the preseason, and like UNH have yet to win a conference game. Kickoff will be at 2 p.m. in Villanova, Pa. as UNH will look to get their second win of the season.