First-year quarterback Max Brosmer’s 184 passing yards and three total touchdowns led to the UNH quarterback being named the CAA Rookie of the Week. Brosmer was the manufacturer of a 60-yard game-winning drive that propelled UNH (1-2, 1-0 CAA) to their first win of the season. Saturday’s victory was also the first career win for interim head coach Ricky Santos.
UNH set the tone early in their home opener – just as Santos mentioned in his mid-week press conference. It only took Brosmer two plays to get his team on the board. Brosmer and senior wideout Malik Love connected on a 78-yard pass and run just 44 seconds into the game. Love led the way for UNH receivers, ending his night with four receptions, 92 yards and one score. Love explained how it was nothing more than a simple slant route the team had been practicing. “I just caught the ball, the guy missed the tackle, and it was off to the races.”
Early in the second quarter, Brosmer found his way back into the endzone. The quarterback capped off a 16-play, 75-yard drive with a two-yard rush to extend the lead to 14 points.
Rhode Island (0-3, 0-2) finally made some noise in the first half when senior wide receiver Ahmere Dorsey completed an 80-yard drive with a touchdown run. The Rams salvaged just the one score in the first half as the UNH defense suffocated URI’s offense for much of the first two quarters; including a fourth and inches run stuff on URI’s first drive of the night. The unit was led by senior cornerback Prince Smith Jr. who ended the half with nine total tackles.
Smith Jr., who ended the night with 13 tackles still sees room to improve in the back end. The senior mentioned how the secondary needs to be better moving forward.
The UNH offense continued to keep URI trailing in their first drive out of the half. Senior halfback Evan Gray’s 81-yard run got the Wildcats deep into the opponent’s Red zone. Brosmer and the offense found themselves on the goal-line when fourth down came. UNH opted to go for it, and Brosmer connected with sophomore wide receiver Brian Espanet on a back-corner fade to regain a 14-point lead.
Gray’s 81-yard play highlighted a career night for the halfback. The senior gained 123 yards on the ground and has already rushed for 222 yards in just three games this season. Gray has a chance to surpass his 2018 total of 292 rushing yards in just his fourth game of 2019.
URI junior kicker C.J. Carrick cut the lead down to 11 with a 40-yard field goal. This came with just under five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Following the field goal, the teams traded interceptions in a matter of three plays. The first of which came at the hands of URI senior defensive back Momodou Mbye. Just two plays later, sophomore safety Pop Bush returned the favor when he took his interception 29 yards back to the Rams’ 30 yard-line.
Bush’s interception led to a UNH field goal by junior kicker Jason Hughes to start the fourth quarter, giving the Wildcats a 24-10 lead.
A defensive pass interference by senior cornerback Isiah Perkins set up URI for a five-yard touchdown pass to junior Isaiah Coulter. Slimming the Rhode Island deficit to just seven points.
On the Rams’ following possession, their offense converted a pair of fourth downs to put themselves in position to tie the game. Junior halfback Zoe Bryant Jr.’s two-yard touchdown run knotted the game at 24-24 with 1:30 to go. This proved to be plenty of time for the UNH offense, however.
Brosmer was surgical from the pocket in the final drive of the game; it took the quarterback just three plays to gain 55 yards and enter the URI red zone. This came after a 41-yard reception to Espanet down the middle of the field.
“It was a great call,” said Brosmer. “I was really hoping we were going to call something down the middle of the field because they were playing in Cover-2 and Cover-4 with two high safeties.”
Brosmer’s composure is something that has been very evident early on in his collegiate career. Love even made note of how [Brosmer] has embraced the leadership role that has been put on his shoulders. Along with Love, Coach Santos had very high praise for his quarterback following his game-winning drive.
“The moment hasn’t seemed too big for [Brosmer]. Being a young 18-year old freshman, he’s just playing within himself, protecting the football, and he’s taking what the defense gives him.”
The first-year quarterback only had one thought in his head before leading the final drive down the field.
“I’m going to get the ball down the field no matter what.”
The Wildcats then called upon Hughes to close out the game and give the team their first win of 2019. The junior split the uprights from 29 yards away to halt URI’s comeback and put UNH into the win column.
“I try to block out the noise,” Hughes noted. “I can’t do it without everybody else; you’ve got to trust that everybody is going to do their job.”
The ‘Cats will welcome Duquesne (2-1, 0-0 NEC) into Wildcat Stadium on Saturday, September 28. Both teams will be looking to begin a winning streak after slim victories last week.