Close call for Wildcats
The No. 10 University of New Hampshire Wildcats beat the William & Mary Tribe 28-25 in a closely contested game on Saturday with 5,521 spectators in attendance. The Wildcats now have an overall record of 8-2 and the Tribe continues to struggle with a 2-7 record.
This victory marks the first win over the Tribe by Sean McDonnell since he took over the head coaching position in 1999. The last time UNH beat William & Mary was Oct. 24, 1998.
The Tribe struck first in the opening quarter on a 30-yard pass by quarterback Brent Caprio, connecting with wide receiver Tre McBride for a touchdown. The Wildcats could not respond until the second quarter with a 23-yard field goal by kicker Mike MacArthur, cutting into the Tribes lead 7-3.
Following an unsuccessful drive by the Tribe, the Wildcats regained possession on the punt and drove 92 yards down the field, ending the drive with a 18-yard rushing touchdown by running back Nico Steriti. Following the touchdown, quarterback Andy Vailas found tight end Harold Spears in the end zone for a two-point conversion.
UNH would score again on their next drive, which began with only 1:14 remaining in the half and starting on their own 30-yard line. The Wildcats took nine plays to drive 70 yards down the field, finishing with a two-yard run by quarterback Sean Goldrich.
Goldrich primarily played the quarterback position, but Vailas saw significant time on the field as well. Some plays featured both of the quarterbacks on the field, giving the defense an odd look.
At the end of the half, the Wildcats led the Tribe 18-7.
"In the first half, defensively, it didn't seem like we were ever in sync," William & Mary head coach Jimmye Laycock said.
The Tribe opened up the second half with possession. On the drive, the Tribe moved the ball 60 yards down the field, but had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by John Carpenter, only cutting their deficit down to eight.
Following a short 20-yard possession by the Wildcats that ended with them punting the ball, the Tribe came right back down the field and quarterback Michael Graham - who stepped in for Caprion when he left the game with an injury in the second quarter - connected with Tre McBride for a 19-yard touchdown. Graham found Tre McBride again in the end zone for the two-point conversion. The score was then tied at 18.
The fourth quarter began with the Wildcats in possession on their own 46-yard line. They continued their drive, which had begun towards the end of the third quarter, and got into the red zone.
Goldrich tried to go to R.J. Harris in the end zone, but was incomplete. MacArthur kicked the 24-yard field goal to put the Wildcats up 21-18.
The Tribe regained possession on the kickoff following the UNH score and started their drive on their own 22-yard line. The Tribe drove down the field to within inches of the goal line where Graham scored on a quarterback sneak. The extra point kick was blocked by Lamar Edmonds, but was called back for an offside call on UNH. The second attempt was good and the Tribe led, 25-21.
On the fifth play of the following drive for the Wildcats, Goldrich connected with wide receiver Joey Orlando for a 32-yard play. Steriti then ran the ball 19 yards for a touchdown. Following the extra point, UNH had regained the lead 28-25.
Redshirt freshman Keith Parkinson snagged an interception to end the Tribe's next drive.
The Wildcats punted the ball on fourth-down of a seven-yard drive, putting William & Mary back in possession with 0:44 left to play in the game. As time expired, Graham lobbed the ball into the air in what turned into an incompletion.
"It didn't surprise me it was that kind of game with William & Mary," McDonnell said.
Steriti rushed for 107 yards on 19 carries and two touchdowns. He had 138 all-purpose yards on the day.
"Nico is a talented kid," Goldrich said following the game. "He knows how to find the hole ... He worked hard all game."
Linebacker Matt Evans broke Steve Doig's record for career tackles during the game and continues to lead the FCS in active career tackles with 437. He led the team in tackles for the game with 10.
Defensive tackle Jared Smith and defensive end Jay Colbert each recorded a sack in the game.
The Wildcats have a bye-week and will take on Towson at Cowell Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 17 at noon to end the regular season.
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