DURHAM, N.H. — The New Hampshire football team followed the blueprint for winning on the road last Saturday.
Starting fast on both sides of the ball, the Wildcats did not commit a turnover and had two takeaways on defense, including an interception that led directly to a touchdown.
“We harp on those things all the time,” coach Sean McDonnell said during Monday’s Colonial Athletic Association teleconference.
“We make a pretty good emphasis on how important it is to win on the road. We went down to Elon and did what we had to do.”
The result was a 48-14 victory against the newest member of the CAA, Elon, extending New Hampshire’s win streak to four games.
Offensively, the Wildcats scored on their first three drives and defensively they forced three-and-outs on Elon’s first four possessions.
They also got a 55-yard interception return for a touchdown by Steven Thames. UNH, which has outscored its last two opponents 100-33, led 17-0 after the first quarter and 34-0 at halftime.
“I thought defensively we played much better than we had earlier in the year,” McDonnell said. “We had a bunch of three-and-outs early.”
The Wildcats (4-1, 2-0 CAA) held Elon to 282 total yards, and just 55 yards rushing. They also intercepted quarterback Mike Quinn twice.
“I think that had a lot to do with pressure,” McDonnell said. “We only had two interceptions but I think we hit him another six or seven times.”
UNH quarterback Andy Vailas turned in another efficient performance in his second consecutive start after taking over for the injured Sean Goldrich.
Vailas passed for 193 yards and two scores in the first half. His touchdown passes went to seniors R.J. Harris and Jimmy Giansante.
“Andy went out and did the things he had to do,” McDonnell said. “He was high early with some of his throws, but he made an adjustment and started putting the ball on people. He played very well again just the way he’s been preparing.”
The Wildcats also rushed for 155 yards despite the absence of their top two backs. Senior Nico Steriti sat out for the second time with a sprained ankle and sophomore Dalton Crossan (hamstring) has yet to play this season.
NEW HAMPSHIRE STATS PER GAME
“We play them year-in and year-out,” said William & Mary coach Jimmye Laycock, “and they’re always a challenge. They give you a lot of things to worry about. Offensively they’re as diverse as they come.”
Against Elon, redshirt freshman Donald Goodrich rushed for a team-high 54 yards on 10 carries and scored his first career touchdown on a 4-yard run late in the third quarter that put UNH up 48-0.
“It goes back to the offensive line,” McDonnell said. “They’ve been very, very good the last couple weeks.”
Goodrich also caught three passes for 55 yards, giving him 99 all-purpose yards on 13 touches and was also one of four backs to carry the ball at least six times and one of 10 different players to catch a pass last Saturday.
“I think the most important thing is how we’re attacking defenses and giving guys opportunities to make plays,” McDonnell said. “We’re spreading the ball around.”
They’ll have to continue that approach against the Tribe, a team the Wildcats have struggled with over the years. They’re 4-13 all-time against William & Mary, including 1-10 in the last 11 meetings.
The lone victory was a 28-25 decision in Durham in 2012. The Tribe blanked the Wildcats 17-0 last year in Virginia.
That setback dropped UNH’s record to 4-4. The Wildcats won their next six games before their season ended with a loss at North Dakota State in the FCS semifinals.
“They’ve always been good,” McDonnell said of William & Mary. “It starts with their defense. They play downhill on you and they tackle very, very well. They smoked us last year and they haven’t missed a beat.”
— UNH Football (@UNH_Football) October 6, 2014