The Wildcats (5-4, 4-2) went into Virginia to take on No. 2 James Madison University (9-1, 6-0) and managed to keep the game close through the first quarter, but it got out of hand as the game went on. The sides were locked at 10-10 after the first 15 minutes, but UNH was outscored 44-6 the rest of the way.
UNH once again got on the board first in this game. The opening drive was highlighted by a 49-yard option-pass from sophomore wide receiver Benyeal Hill Jr. to senior Malik Love; this set up the ‘Cats for a first-and-goal on just the fifth play from scrimmage. Hill Jr. found Love with about ten yards of open space, which was good for 15 yards after the catch. First-year quarterback Max Brosmer would finish the drive with a one-yard touchdown rush for the early 7-0 advantage.
The quarterback ended the day with just 101 yards, throwing 12-for-22, and did not record a passing touchdown.
Love led the Wildcats in receiving with 67 yards on five receptions.
Senior quarterback for James Madison, Ben DiNucci pushed his offense downfield on the ensuing series to chip into the lead. A 40-yard field goal from redshirt-junior Ethan Ratke brought the Dukes with four points on their first drive of the afternoon.
The Wildcats wouldn’t take long, however, before extending the lead once more. Help from a 35-yard run by sophomore running back Carlos Washington Jr. set up junior kicker Jason Hughes for a 44-yard field goal. This would be the last time until the third quarter that UNH put points on the board. Washington Jr. paced the day for UNH backs rushing for 58 yards on 11 carries.
It only took DiNucci two plays to tie the score for his team, including a 58-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Brandon Polk to knot the score at 10.
Polk – along with junior running back Percy Agyei-Obese – ended the day with at least 130 yards from scrimmage, 136 to be exact. This touchdown would contribute to one of DiNucci’s two passing scores.
The home team would go on to score a touchdown in each of their three drives in the second quarter. The first of which came by way of a 24-yard rush by Agyei-Obese to go ahead by seven.
JMU attacked through the air on their next series, as DiNucci completed three-of-four passes, the last of which found its way into the end zone. Senior tight end Dylan Stapleton found into the end zone, but would only gain the six points as Ratke botched the extra point.
In what would be their final series of the half, JMU kept the offensive attack balanced as they drove down into UNH territory. DiNucci ran it in from the one-yard line with seconds remaining in the half to go into the locker room ahead 30-10.
The Dukes wouldn’t let off the gas, however. In the third quarter the DiNucci and Agyei-Obese attack helped JMU find the end zone once again to take a commanding 37-10 lead out of halftime. Agyei-Obese finished off the drive with a 20-yard rush for the touchdown.
Following a UNH punt, DiNucci continued to torture the Wildcat defense for 44 yards on just two plays. Agyei-Obese capped off yet another drive with a 3-yard rush for the touchdown.
DiNucci ended his outstanding day with an efficient 19-for-24 completions, 293 yards, and two passing touchdowns, along with another score on the ground.
The Wildcats fought to find the end zone one last time, as JMU penalties helped Brosmer and the offense work their way downfield. Senior Evan Gray rushed for the score from 18 yards out, narrowing the score to 44-16.
Gray netted just 27 yards on the ground and added one of UNH’s two touchdowns.
Agyei-Obese methodically rushed deep into UNH territory in the first series of the fourth quarter. The running back set up his kicker for his second field goal of the day.
Agyei-Obese had a monster 130 yards on 21 carries along with two scores at the end of a day where he kept the UNH defense guessing.
The Dukes weren’t done quite yet as junior backup quarterback Cole Johnson made it onto the field Saturday. Johnson completed a 23-yard pass to sophomore wide receiver Daniel Adu and followed that with a 33-yard rush of his own for the touchdown. The score of 54-16 would stand for the remainder of the game.
After feeling the high of coming back to beat Villanova at home, junior defensive tackle Elijah Lewis says the mood of the team has changed after JMU and it was a “tough loss.” He also talked about the mindset moving ahead. “You can’t dwell on it; you’ve just got to move on.”
UNH has fallen out of the FCS top-25 after previously being ranked at No. 23 before JMU. The Wildcats now have to head into Albany in their final road game of the 2019 slate.
Now sitting at 5-4 with two games to go, Coach Santos along with the rest of the team realize how these final two games are must-win. “They understand the magnitude of it,” said Coach Santos. “Right now, we’re just focusing on the day-to-day process of getting better.”
As the team looks ahead to Albany, redshirt-first year wideout Charles Briscoe III spoke about the opposing secondary on Saturday. “The secondary is pretty good, but I still believe that we have the weapons to go over the top.”
The Wildcats final road game will take place in Albany from Bob Ford Field at 1 p.m. on Saturday, November 16.