Durham, NH (December 6, 2014) – The No. 1 seeded New Hampshire Wildcats jumped out to a 14-0 lead over the Fordham Rams early in their second round game of the FCS playoff aided by a 51-yard TD run by RB Jimmy Owens (West Deptford, NJ) on their first play from scrimmage, an eight-yard TD run by QB Sean Goldrich on their second possession, and courtesy of six sacks of Ram QB Mike Nebrich (12 for 30, 161 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT) by their front seven on the first three Fordham possessions. The Rams climbed back into the game to trail 14-12 in a 91-yard TD burst by Patriot League Rookie of the Year Chase Edmonds (18 carries for 208, 1 TD) sandwiched between two Michael Marando FGs. Four touchdowns later by Wildcat RB Nico Steriti (Toms River, NJ) and three more sacks of Nebrich, UNH moved on convincingly to the quarterfinals with a 44-19 victory. Senior DT Matt Kaplan got credit for 3.5 sacks. In the second period, Steriti (14 carries for 110 yards, 4 TDs) ran it in from the 11 to extend the Cats’ lead, 21-12. Brad Pasky’s 30-yard FG gave UNH a 24-12 halftime lead.
Cff.com drove to Rhode Island the night before through steady and hard-driving rain and did more the next morning on the way to Cowell Stadium in Durham, NH. Our “tailgate” was held at the friendly confines of Libby’s Bar on Main Street about three blocks from Cowell on the other side of the New Hampshire campus. The rain subsided around the end of the first quarter and started up early again in the fourth, but it had more effect on my travels as opposed to the game action on the field.
Steriti scored from the seven twice in the third period. After his first, Nebrich tossed a five -yard TD to WR Brian Wetzel three plays after a fumble recovered at the UNH 12. UNH led 37-19 heading into the final period before Steriti finished the scoring for the day with a 24-yard run. Goldrich completed 22 of 37 attempts for 240 yards. Owens carried only three times for 71 yards and left the game with a leg injury before being seen later along the sideline on crutches.
The UNH Wildcats next host No. 8 UT Chattanooga who defeated Indiana State Saturday, 35-14. All the seeded teams won on Saturday except for No. 3 Jacksonville State who fell to Sam Houston State (9-4), 37-26. No. 5 Illinois State (11-1) will visit No. 4 Eastern Washington (11-2) in the upper part of the FCS bracket that includes UNH and UT-C. In the lower half, Villanova got by Liberty, 29-22, and will host Sam Houston. Three-time defending champ North Dakota State defeated South Dakota State in a close one, 27-24. The Bison will next host No. 7 Coastal Carolina (11-1). If No. 6 Nova and No. 7 Coastal both win next week, we could consider going to the game between the two winners to be hosted by the higher-seeded VU Wildcats on December 19th or 20th. In the meantime next week, CFF.com heads to Baltimore for the traditional final regular season game of 2014 where Navy (6-5) goes for its 13th straight win over an improved Army team (4-7) under first-year HC Jeff Moncken, former Navy assistant, in the greatest rivalry in all of college football. It will be our 10th game in the series being played for the 115th time. Navy leads the storied series, 58-49-7.
Extra points: We attended three Fordham games this season, and each was held at a new venue for us for the first time. The first was at Fordham in The Bronx where they decimated Rhode Island, 57-7. The second was at Bucknell in Lewisburg, PA where they clinched the Patriot League with a 30-27 win in OT and earned their FCS bid. And then there was yesterday’s second round FCS game held in Durham where we’d like to plan some more time checking out the Portsmouth-Durham area.
Charles “Chip” Kelly, current HC of the Philadelphia Eagles, coached as an assistant at UNH from 1994- 2006. For the last seven years there, he was the Wildcat offensive coordinator before heading out west to take over the same position at Oregon where he eventually became HC. From there he moved on to the pros, and quite successfully we may add. From 2004 through 2014, UNH has reached the FCS playoffs. Kelly helped get that started. In 2004, we remember UNH pulling the upset on Rutgers, 35-24, a week after RU beat Michigan State.