Wildcats run over Raiders
Published: Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Updated: Tuesday, September 17, 2013 02:09
The Wildcats’ offense had a few missing pieces going into Saturday afternoon. The SOS Express – comprised of running backs Nico Steriti, Jimmy Owens and Chris Setian – was missing the “O” and one “S” with Owens and Setian out. Top wide receiver R.J. Harris was slated to play, but his productivity and durability was in question due to a broken left hand.
But with a look at the scoreboard following the final whistle on Saturday, it seemed as if there were no issues with the Wildcats at all as New Hampshire buried Colgate 53-23 at Cowell Stadium in Durham.
“It was a very good win for us,” UNH head coach Sean McDonnell said. “I was pleased with the way we got out of the game in a hurry and scored quickly.”
When backup quarterback Sean Goldrich came on the field for a drive in the last minute of the first quarter, he felt no hesitation in targeting Harris on his first throw. Harris reeled in the ball and found a bit of room to work his way down the field and into the endzone.
Goldrich made the most of his limited on-field time completing five of six passing attempts.
Senior receiver Justin Mello saw ample opportunities throughout the game earning 101 receiving yards, including one 53-yard play from late in the third quarter.
Steriti led the ground attack, gaining 88 yards and finding the endzone twice. Not far behind was redshirt freshman Dalton Crossan, who is still coming off a sprained ankle from last week. Crossan ran for 81 yards and scored a touchdown on an 11-yard run in the third quarter. Not bad for his first collegiate game.
With starting quarterback Andy Vailas leading the offense on the field, head coach Sean McDonnell and offensive coordinator Ryan Carty kept the tempo up with a no huddle attack, forcing Colgate on its heels the entire game.
The Raiders defense allowed 40 points in the first half alone.
“Its disappointing for us,” Colgate head coach Dick Biddle said. “It’s a disappointing year for us and we are struggling.”
Colgate’s offense suffered greater losses in personnel than New Hampshire, as Raiders star quarterback Gavin McCarney was unavailable due to a knee injury he suffered during the week. McCarney was suited up on the sideline Saturday, but Biddle held him back for the entire game.
That left backup quarterback Dylan Finelli to take the snaps, which turned into a struggle. Finelli was 5-18 in passing and threw two interceptions.
McCarney passed for more than 300 yards against Albany the previous week.
“I thought our quarterback did an incredible job for being thrown into a situation like that,” Biddle said.
McDonnell said he did not hear about McCarney’s injury until the morning of the game.
The first interception came on Finelli’s opening pass attempt when the ball instead landed in the hands of UNH linebacker Shane McNeely. UNH was already sitting on an 8-0 lead after tight end Harold Spears scored on the Wildcats’ opening drive.
McNeely returned the ball 31 yards to the Colgate four. Three plays later, Vailas found Spears in the end zone for a second time and connected for the two-point conversion as well, bringing the score to 16-0 six minutes into the first quarter.
“It doesn’t matter who scores or how we score as long as we jump on them early,” Spears said.
New Hampshire scored 26 points in the first quarter, including a 27-yard field goal from Mike MacArthur, followed by 14 more in the second quarter. Colgate scored six in the first and was shutout in the second.
The second half was slightly better for the Raiders, but was not enough to clean up such a big deficit.
The Wildcats have a week off before taking on Lehigh on Sept. 28.
Nick Stoico can be reached on Twitter @NickStoico.