Battle for the musket
Wildcats take on Maine in annual rivalry game
Published: Friday, October 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 15:02
The Brice-Cowell Musket is up for grabs once again this year as the No. 12 University of New Hampshire Wildcats travel up to Orono, Maine to take on the Maine Black Bears. This will be matchup number 100 between the teams all-time.
The musket has been resting in the UNH locker room for almost a year now as the Wildcats beat the Black Bears last season with a final score of 30-27.
Of the last nine meetings between the two teams, UNH has come up with the victory eight times. Maine took home the musket in 2010 following a 16-13 overtime win against UNH, and the year without the sacred trophy was tough for those who were around to see it taken away.
“You look at that musket everyday and you want to be able to keep it there,” senior linebacker and captain Matt Evans said. “We know the feeling [of losing it].”
“It’s the most important thing in that locker room,” offensive lineman and captain Chris Zarkoskie said.
Zarkoskie mentioned how the musket was one of the first things shown to him when he visited UNH before attending.
With the Colonial Clash coming to an end as UMass moved to the FBS, the yearly match up with Maine comes with all the more hype, as Maine is now one of the few New England teams that UNH will face.
Maine has struggled this season, holding an overall record of 2-4 with a 1-2 in the CAA, but it must be said that some of their matchups, especially a 26-3 away victory over Delaware, show that this team can play and compete.
“It’s a big game for both us,” UNH head coach Sean McDonnell said. “Usually [Maine] is the last game of the year. [It’s] the one you remember the most probably as a player.”
Junior quarterback Marcus Wasilewski, who averages 228.5 yards per game, guides the Maine offense. Wasilewski is in his first year starting and leads the team in rushing touchdowns with three.
The Maine rushing attack is double-headed with junior running back Rickey Stevens carrying the majority of the time, along with sophomore running back David Hood also making a significant impact.
Stevens, despite not having yet scored a touchdown for the Black Bears, has been very productive on the ground averaging just over six yards per carry on the season.
Stevens is also eighth in the CAA in total rushing yards with 411. Hood has three rushing touchdowns this year and is averaging 73.2 yards per carry with 57 carries so far this season.
Senior wide receiver Maurice McDonald is the main target for Wasilewski. McDonald is third in the CAA in receptions-per-game with 6.3. He has tallied just one touchdown this season.
On the defensive side of the ball, senior linebacker Donte Dennis leads the Black Bears with 59 tackles, as well as two fumble recoveries this season. Dennis is also tied for second in the CAA with 9.8 tackles per game.
Maine took a hard blow in the second week of the season in their win against Delaware when star junior defensive end Michael Cole tore his quadriceps tendon in his left leg.
The Wildcats are looking for win No. 49 over Maine this weekend as they are 48-43-8 all time against the Black Bears.
Freshman quarterback Sean Goldrich is expected to make his first start this week since suffering a separated shoulder against Minnesota the second week of the season. Sophomore quarterback Andy Vailas has been limited in practice this week since absorbing some hard hits last weekend against Richmond.
McDonnell said Vailas injured his hip as well as some bruised ribs and a shoulder issue. McDonnell did not say the injuries were serious, but that Goldrich, who has been participating fully in practice, will most likely start on Saturday.
“I don’t think Sean’s arm is 100 percent,” McDonnell said. “But he is better than Andy physically right now.”
Matt Evans continues to lead the CAA in tackles following last week’s win over Richmond where he made a season-high 16 tackles. Evans currently leads the CAA with 70 tackles. The next player behind him is a tie between Dennis of Maine and Paul Worrilow of Delaware, each with 59 tackles this season. Evans also leads the entire FCS in career tackles and solo tackles with 404 and 230, respectively.