DURHAM, N.H. – The No. 23 University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats (3-3, 2-1) may have to say goodbye to their national ranking for now following a third straight loss. The Wildcats fell to Dartmouth (5-0, 2-0) 38-21 in a contest where the Big Green moved the ball at will against the Wildcats’ defense. 

“I thought we got beat and manhandled by a really good football team,” said UNH head coach Sean McDonnell following the loss. 

McDonnell noted earlier in the week that his team didn’t do much live tackling over the bye week to focus on staying healthy. Tackling, however, is what both McDonnell and senior safety Evan Horn agreed was the biggest flaw in this year’s Granite Bowl. 

After starting the season 3-0, Horn says the team needs to start practicing better and getting back to how they prepared earlier on in the season. After what may have been the team’s worst beat of the season, the captain called this an “unacceptable loss” coming out of a bye week. 

McDonnell noted on Wednesday that he loved watching the unconventional Dartmouth offense, but he wasn’t sure how he’d like coaching against it. Graduate student Derek Kyler and junior Nick Howard gave McDonnell his answer early in the game. Dartmouth and their dual-quarterback offense found little resistance moving the ball in any fashion on Saturday afternoon. The Big Green can interchange their quarterbacks down-to-down, and the unusual scheme posed a lot of issues for New Hampshire. 

Dartmouth had the first two scores of the game, built up as much as a 17-point lead in the first half and led by 27 by the end of the afternoon.  

Kyler was 20-for-25 (80%), passing for 326 yards and two touchdowns. Howard only attempted four passes on the day, but torched UNH for 131 yards on the ground and scampered for a trio of six-yard rushing touchdowns. Howard led the Big Green in rushing but junior running back Noah Roper wasn’t far behind with 118 yards of his own. 

Through the air, Dartmouth had three receivers with at least four receptions, and four with upward of 50 yards. Sophomore Paxton Scott led with four receptions and 92 yards. 

As for the home team, New Hampshire has shown that one of their weak spots is being able to finish long and sustained drives. This was once again the case in UNH’s first drive of the game. After marching 65 yards over 15 plays, the Wildcats were stood up at the goal line after four chances to punch it in from inside the 5-yard line. 

While finishing sustained drives hasn’t been this team’s forte, they consistently show their ability to connect on home run plays. This held true for each of the team’s three scores on the afternoon. Sophomore running back Dylan Laube had a pair of rushing touchdowns from 75 and 53 yards out. The lone passing touchdown on the day came from Laube’s counterpart, junior running back Carlos Washington Jr. He received a backwards pass from sophomore quarterback Bret Edwards, the defense took the bait and Washington Jr. found junior wideout Sean Coyne downfield for the score. 

New Hampshire has five games remaining, each of which will be Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) contests, heightening the importance of each game moving forward. If there is a silver lining amid a three-game losing streak, it’s that only one of the games was a conference opponent.  

It will be the Elon Phoenix (3-3, 2-1) hosting UNH next weekend in a game that is nearing the category of must-win for the Wildcats. New Hampshire will likely drop out of the top-25 when this week’s poll comes out, but playoff hopes remain alive. UNH is not scheduled to play either No. 6 Villanova or No. 14 Delaware. The only currently-ranked opponent left on the schedule is No. 12 Rhode Island.  

New Hampshire will look to put the train back on the tracks on Saturday from Elon, N.C. at 1 p.m. 

Photo Courtesy of Cameron Beall