Story and photo courtesy of New Hampshire Athletics
DURHAM, N.H.- R.J. Harris hauled in a pair of second-half touchdown passes and racked up 129 receiving yards to help the 20th-ranked University of New Hampshire football team post a convincing 34-14 victory against No. 8 and previously unbeaten Delaware at Cowell Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
UNH upped its record to 3-2 on the season and 1-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association, while Delaware dipped to 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the CAA. The Wildcats won their eighth consecutive home game and improved to 20-1 in their last 21 games at Mooradian Field.
Andy Vailas (Bedford, N.H.) matched a career best with 23 completions (seven to Harris) on 36 attempts for 315 yards and two TDs. The sophomore signal caller added 14 carries for 36 yards and a score.
Joey Orlando (Bethlehem, Pa.) added six catches for 74 yards as UNH amassed 409 of its 472 yards of total offense in the second half.
The Wildcats’ defense held the Blue Hens to 234 yards and a mere 92 yards in the second half. Manny Asam (Bloomfield, N.J.) spearheaded the attack and tied a career high by notching 11 tackles (eight solo) and a personal-best 1.5 sacks. Dontra Peters (Annapolis, Md.) tallied two interceptions and three tackles, including a half sack, Matt Evans (Hanover, Mass.) chipped in with nine tackles, and Robbie Zauck (Ocean City, N.J.) collected two of UNH’s six sacks of Delaware quarterback Trent Hurley (18-for-27, 140 yards, TD, INT).
Trailing 7-0 at halftime, the Wildcats scored touchdowns on their first three possessions of the second half to open a 21-7 lead with 14:50 left in the game.
UNH tied the game, 7-7, when Harris snared his first TD catch of the contest on a 32-yard pass to conclude an eight-play, 72-yard drive at 11:02 of the third quarter. On third-and-12, Vailas stepped up in the pocket and fired a strike down the left sideline that Harris caught in stride on his way to the end zone.
The ‘Cats took the lead for good, 14-7, when Vailas capped a seven-play, 77-yard drive with a one-yard TD rush with 5:08 left in the third. The signal caller took the shotgun snap, faked a handoff to Chris Setian (East Longmeadow, Mass./three carries-13 yards/three catches-18 yards) and walked in untouched for the score.
Vailas and Harris would connect for the second time early in the fourth for a seven-yard reception and a 21-7 Wildcats’ advantage. On third-and-goal, Vailas scrambled to his left to elude pressure and zipped a scoring pass to the open Harris just inside the goal line to wrap up a 12-play, 67-yard drive that lasted more than four minutes.
Mike MacArthur (North Hampton, N.H.) improved to 5-for-5 in field goal kicking on the season by successfully hitting from 23 yards out with 8:16 left for a 24-7 lead and a 28-yarder that staked New Hampshire to a 27-7 lead with 4:54 to go.
The Wildcats capped a 34-0 run when Jimmy Owens (West Deptford, N.J./team-leading 72 rushing yards on four carries) took a handoff up the middle, angled left and outraced the Blue Hen secondary for a career-high 60-yard run with 3:52 left.
Delaware managed to avoid a second-half shutout on a 26-yard pass from Hurley to Mike Milburn (two catches-32 yards) with 34 seconds remaining. Andrew Pierce paced Delaware with 18 rushes for 82 yards.
The Blue Hens led 7-0 at halftime thanks to Hurley’s one-yard run with 1:05 left in the first quarter. It marked the first time the Wildcats had been blanked at home in the opening half of a game since Oct. 14, 2000, against Richmond.
UNH ventures to the Georgia Dome on Saturday, Oct. 6, for a 3:30 p.m. CAA game against Georgia State.