UNH Football: The Wildcats go 4-0 in conference play for the 3rd time in 30 years


Rich Gagnon

Wildcats celebrate their 24-14 win over Stony Brook.

Spencer Marks, Sports Editor

It was the perfect combination at Wildcat stadium this past Saturday. A beautiful day, homecoming, throwback uniforms, and a CAA matchup between the University of New Hampshire (UNH) Wildcats (3-2,3-0) and the Stony Brook Seawolves (0-4, 0-3).

Coming off of a draining loss to the FBS team Western Michigan, UNH was determined to get back on track in front of their fired-up crowd of 13,000+ Wildcat fans. Their opponent just so happened to be the winless Seawolves that had to face this hungry white-helmeted team.

Don’t let the final score of 24-14 in favor of UNH distract you from the fact that the ‘Cats maintained control of the gridiron throughout the length of the contest. UNH had Stony Brook beat in passing, rushing, and total yards. 

The success of the Wildcat offense is credited to sophomore quarterback Max Brosmer. Not only did he look poised in the pocket but he was slinging the ball with confidence. Brosmer finished the game completing 23 of 36 passes for 291 yards (5 shy of his season-high 296 vs. NC Central) and two touchdowns. 

Brosmer touted his team and expressed that they played the largest role in his success. 

“The guys did a really good job, especially out wide, finding holes in the defense, being able to settle in different gaps, and keep the drives going,” Brosmer said, “I thought the o-line played very well too. Pass protection was awesome, we only had one sack and that’s ridiculous and really good.”

On the other side of the ball, the defense did their job in an effort to make a statement to show the rest of the CAA (Colonial American Association) how powerful they truly are. They certainly accomplished this as Stony Brook head coach Chuck Priore said, “we’ve played some really good teams so far, they were probably the most physical defense we’ve faced.”

There was no doubt about their physicality as the Wildcat defense recorded five sacks, nine tackles for a loss, and an interception from junior safety Joe Eichman. This was his first career interception and served as a nice welcome back for him as he had missed the past three games due to an injury. 

The sacks were split between sophomore defensive end Dylan Ruiz (2), junior safety Max Oxendine (1), sophomore defensive lineman Nathan Kapongo (0.5), junior cornerback Randall Harris (0.5), and sophomore defensive end Josiah Silver (1.5). 

Silver, who racked up three of the nine tackles for loss, was surprised when he found out that the defense didn’t let the Seawolves convert on third down until just about ten minutes left in the game. 

He went on to speak on the defense’s performance overall throughout the game. 

“We just wanted to show that we are one of the better defenses in our conference (CAA),” Silver said, “When we all play together and do our jobs we can be one of the more sound defenses.”

The story of the first 15 minutes of play was punt galore as four of them made up the length of the quarter. On the bright side, UNH out-gained the Seawolves in total first-quarter yards 59-13. The Wildcat’s redshirt first-year punter Sean Lehane contributed to a scoreless start for Stony Brook as he pinned them back on their own four and one-yard line. 

The homecoming crowd finally got some much-needed action once the second-quarter clock started ticking down. Just over a minute in, redshirt first-year quarterback Daron Bryden flipped the ball to redshirt sophomore Ryan Tallarico who heaved it deep to a wide-open redshirt junior Tyler Devera for the first touchdown of the game (13:57). 

Huge gains by junior tight end Kyle Lepkowski and redshirt first-year wide receiver Joey Corcoran on the following drive put the Wildcats in position for a redshirt first-year kicker Nick Mazzie field goal to make the score 7-3 with 10:34 in the second quarter. 

The momentum really changed on the next drive when the Wildcat defense responded by making the Seawolves go three and out thanks to a tackle for loss by Silver. This got the ‘Cats offense rolling for Brosmer to lead the Wildcats down the field and put junior running back Dylan Laube in a prime position to get a walk-in touchdown rush. UNH took a 10 to 7 lead with just under five minutes in the half. 

With a perfect amount of time remaining in the second quarter, the Seawolves had a prime opportunity to go down the field and respond to the Laube touchdown. This 16-yard drive was quickly halted by the Kapongo sack. No more points were scored in the first half and the Wildcats headed to the locker room with a three-point lead. 

Stony Brook started the second half with the ball but it wasn’t in their possession for long as they proceeded to go three-and-out once again. The ‘Cats offense went on to have a blissful drive that ended in a five-yard touchdown pass to first-year wide receiver DJ Linkins (9:00). This was Linkins’ third reception as a Wildcat. The other two also resulted in touchdowns (vs. NC Central). 

The third quarter ended 17-7 with very little action besides the Linkins touchdown. With their backs against the wall, the Seawolves were forced to start airing the ball out. This didn’t bode well for them on their second drive of the quarter as Eichman caught an interception and was a half-a-foot step out of bounds away from a pick-six. 

UNH was in an excellent field position but Eichman would have loved to have a do-over to stay in bounds because Laube fumbled the ball on the Stony Brook 21-yard line. This turnover led to a Tallarico touchdown that brought the Seawolves’ deficit to three points with 5:01 remaining in the game. 

The UNH offense’s red zone drought had been active since the nine-minute mark in the third quarter. Luckily for the ‘Cats, graduate student tight end Adam Deese brought in a 32-yard catch and run to bring the Wildcats back into the end zone. Brosmer went on to throw the ball to senior wide receiver Brian Espanet in 1v1 coverage for a spectacular touchdown catch. This painted the final score of 24-14. 

The Wildcats sit at 4-0 in conference play for just the third time in 30 years. Head coach Rick Santos spoke about this achievement following the win. 

“We wanna go 1-0 every week so that (4-0 in conference play) is great but it doesn’t matter about conference ranks mid-season. It means nothing,” coach Santos said, “Ultimately it matters what happens at the end of the year.” 

The schedule gets harder from here on out for UNH as they will travel to Dartmouth (1-3, 0-2) this weekend. Santos stressed the team got “embarrassed and beat up” last year in their 38-21 loss last season and that they need to focus on this weekend’s matchup.

You can watch the battle go down this Saturday at 1:30 p.m. on ESPN+ as the Wildcats look to improve to 5-0 in the CAA.