UMass hands Wildcats first loss of season
Jon Hernandez scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 42-yard run with 5:23 to play in the game to lead No. 18-ranked University of Massachusetts to a 23-17 victory over the No. 4-ranked University of New Hampshire on Saturday at McGuirk Stadium in a key Colonial Athletic Association matchup.
After forcing a UMass punt on the opening drive, UNH (5-1, 2-1 CAA) scored quickly on a beautiful 58-yard pass and catch from Toman to senior tight end Scott Sicko to give the Wildcats the lead, 7-0, with 8:26 to play in the first quarter.
After an earlier field goal, UMass took the lead late in the second quarter on a 10-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kyle Havens to wide receiver Julian Talley, giving the home team a 10-7 lead.
An interception by senior linebacker Terrance Klein gave UNH the football on the UMass 40-yard line with 6:18 to play in the third quarter and seven plays and 22 yards later, senior kicker Tom Manning nailed a 35-yard field goal to tie the game at 10-10.
Klein then made his second interception of the game and fourth of the season, giving UNH the football on their own 44-yard line with 1:03 left in the third quarter.
The Wildcats drove to the UMass 11-yard line on a 31-yard strike from junior quarterback R.J. Toman to senior running back Chad Kackert down the right sideline and a few plays later Toman connected with Sicko again in the endzone for their second touchdown of the day, a 6-yard score, to give the Wildcats a 17-10 lead.
UMass kicker Armando Cuko booted his second field goal of the day, a 36-yarder, to bring the Minutemen to within four with 7:21 remaining in the game.
This set the stage for Hernandez's touchdown run for what proved to be the game-winning score, giving UMass a 20-17 lead.
Hernandez was named the game MVP, leading all rushers with 166 yards on 29 carries.
Cuko added another field goal to bring the UMass lead to 23-17 with 1:26 remaining.
The Wildcats' final comeback attempt stalled at the 13-yard line when a Toman pass was intercepted in the endzone as time expired.
Neither team was able to run with the ball with much consistency in the first half, as UNH mustered just 29 yards on 13 carries and the Minutemen tallied 40 yards on 21 runs.
Toman finished 23 of 45 passing for 284 yards and 2 TDs while Sicko led UNH in receiving with 10 catches for 145 yards and two touchdowns.
The UNH defense was led by junior corner Dino Vasso and senior linebacker Sean Ware, each recording 14 tackles.
The Wildcats will return to action on Sat., Oct. 24 at Hofstra. Game time is slated for 3 p.m.
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