A tale of two halves
‘Cats offense puts up 34 uncontested in second half
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
The University of New Hampshire Wildcats sputtered out of the gate on Saturday’s game against the then ranked No. 8 Delaware Blue Hens.
Yet after a standout effort from UNH’s defense, the Wildcats rallied to score 34 unanswered points on the way to a 34-14 upset victory in front of a sellout crowd at Cowell Stadium.
UNH improved to 3-2 on the season, 1-1 in the CAA. Delaware dropped to 4-1 on the season, 1-1 in the CAA.
Things certainly did not start off the way New Hampshire would have liked though, as the Wildcats were shut out in the first half at home for the first time in 12 years and managed a mere 63 total yards on offense.
Fortunately the UNH defense, which was missing a few key players such as starters Jared Smith and Chris Beranger as well as linebacker Alan Buzbee who went down early in the second quarter and did not return, put forth a stellar performance and kept the Blue Hens’ opportunities at a minimum in order to keep Delaware to just a single touchdown heading into the half.
“All week we told the young guys they had to step up,” UNH safety Manny Asam said. “What we say here is the next guy in, and they understand that.”
After a three-and-out stop by the UNH defense, Andy Vailas – who finished the game going 16-23 for 315 passing yards and two touchdowns – and the Wildcats’ offense came out and lit up the Blue Hens’ secondary.
“They went up-tempo on us. Which, you know, didn’t surprise us,” K.C. Keeler, Delaware head coach, said. “We knew that was going to eventually happen. And they made some plays, and I think once they made some plays they got some confidence and it kind of snowballed.”
The shift offensively came after an abysmal first half on the ground, as UNH went for 23 rushing yards on 15 carries.
“We realized that they are a really good run defense so we started spreading it out,” UNH quarterback Andy Vailas said.
From there the Wildcats threw for 275 yards, in addition to the 134 yards UNH went for on the ground, in the second half.
Vailas led UNH offensively, but he received a huge contribution from wide receiver R.J. Harris, who led the team in receiving with 129 yards on seven receptions with two touchdowns. It was the third time this season Harris went for more than 100 yards in a game, as well as the seventh time of his career.
On the ground New Hampshire was led by running back Jimmy Owens, who had 72 rushing yards on four carries with one touchdown. In addition to Owens’s efforts, Andy Vailas added 55 rushing yards of his own on 14 carries with a touchdown.
Every effort put forth by Delaware to come back into the game was stifled by the Wildcats throughout the second half.
Cornerback Dontra Peters played a big role in holding off the Blue Hens, intercepting Delaware quarterback Trent Hurley on back-to-back Delaware possessions to dash any chance of a fourth quarter comeback.
Another big contributor to New Hampshire’s success on defense was the team’s six sacks, two of which came from defensive end Robbie Zauck. Asam finished with a team-high 11 tackles and was credited with a sack and a half.
UNH kept the Blue Hens to 234 total offensive yards, holding Delaware to just 140 yards through the air and 94 yards on the ground.
“[There was a] great defensive effort throughout the game,” UNH head coach Sean McDonnell said.
Delaware’s sole touchdown in the second half came with 34 seconds left to go in the fourth, when Hurley found Mike Milborn for a 26-yard touchdown.
Now with Delaware out of the way the Wildcats head down to Atlanta, Ga. on Oct. 6 to face off against CAA foe Georgia State. Georgia State is currently 0-5 on the season, and has yet to start CAA play.