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UNH quarterback job in good hands with Goldrich

DURHAM – By the end of the last season, Sean Goldrich had settled the quarterback competition at the University of New Hampshire. After battling with Andy Vailas for the better part of two seasons, Goldrich earned top status last November and then led UNH to its first trip to the FCS semifinals. And after yesterday’s Blue-White game, it seems clear Goldrich has cemented his starting spot.

Goldrich was a perfect 12-for-12 for 139 yards and a touchdown in the annual end-of-spring scrimmage. The sophomore from West Haven, Conn., directed three touchdown drives on the three possessions he was on the field and led Team Wild to a 27-0 victory over Team Cats. He was also the first name UNH Coach Sean McDonnell mentioned after the game.

“Just in general I thought Goldy did a nice job directing traffic again,” McDonnell said. “He’s got that ease and poise in the pocket.”

With 5:10 left in the third quarter, Goldrich threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Kyon Taylor, a redshirt freshman from Springfield, Va., who finished with a game-high six catches for 77 yards. Taylor was just one of the new faces integrating into the UNH offense this spring.

“We had a lot of new guys stepping up, especially on the offensive side at the receiver position, so it was good,” Goldrich said. “They came a long way from day one to where we are now. A lot of the guys understand the system better, I understand the system better and we’re making progress.”

Vailas, a junior from Bedford, went 3-for-7 for 54 yards and ran for 14 yards on three carries, although both he and Goldrich wore red, non-contact jerseys. Vailas directed one touchdown drive in his three possessions, a 12-play, 75-yard march that ended with a 5-yard scoring run from Dalton Crossan, who had a game-high in both carries (12) and yards (30).

Junior Nico Steriti (six carries, 28 yards) and freshman Donald Goodrich (six carries, 18 yards) rushed for the other two touchdowns. All the UNH backs were running behind offensive lines that featured many untested players, including redshirt freshman Andrew Lauderdale from Concord, a 6-foot-6, 254-pound Trinity High grad and former tight end who spent all spring playing right tackle.

“Athletically there’s no doubt, toughness-wise there’s no doubt, but (Lauderdale) has got to get bigger and stronger if he wants to compete in the CAA,” McDonnell said. “We can play with him out there and he’ll be fine, but if he wants to compete and make us a better football team, he’s got to have a hell of a summer. He’s got the capabilities and we’re very pleased and very excited about him.”

Defensive tackle Jullian Turner, a 6-1, 300-pound sophomore from Pittsburgh, finished with a game-high eight tackles (three for a loss) and a forced fumble. Linebacker Kevin McNally had six tackles, including five solo stops, and cornerback Lamar Edmonds had the game’s only interception.

“We need to do a better job on money downs, third and fourth down, but there was good energy out there,” said Matt Kaplan, a junior from Franklin who started the last two seasons at defensive tackle. “We got a lot better this spring. The younger guys stepped up and the older guys worked on their craft.”

WALKER AWARD WINNER

Hopkinton’s Jim Earley, a junior walk-on running back from Bishop Brady, won the Todd Walker Teammate Award and wore No. 80 in Walker’s honor during yesterday’s game. Walker, a wide receiver at UNH, was shot and killed on March 18, 2011, when he stopped an attempted armed robbery and saved the life of the woman he was walking home.

Earley had six carries for 18 yards and two catches for 17 yards, but the Walker Award isn’t about production on the field.

“It’s not about athletic ability in football, it’s about character, integrity, heart, friendship, things like that, and that’s what (Earley) is good at,” McDonnell said.

“He’s a great kid that exemplifies everything about the state of New Hampshire, a kid walking on from Bishop Brady that nobody knew about, no idea. He plays a position, running back, that he never played in high school, he was a lineman … but the kids love him, love everything about him. He does everything the right way.”

CO-CAPTAIN, MY CAPTAIN

On Thursday, McDonnell announced that offensive tackle Rob Bowman and defensive end Cody Muller were elected as team captains for the 2014 season. Bowman (6-5, 302) is from Cheshire, Conn., and has started 27 consecutive games for the Wildcats. Muller, who is from Telford, Pa., received a medical hardship waiver from the NCAA to return for a sixth year at UNH. He started 26 of the last 27 games and finished last year with 54 tackles, 10 tackles for a loss and 6.5 sacks.

SPRING BLOSSOMS

After the Blue-White game, the following players were recognized as having improved the most at their position during the spring – quarterback Christian McCormick, running back Goodrich, wide receiver Taylor, tight end Jordan Powell, offensive lineman Curtis Nealer, kicker Max Pedinoff, defensive lineman Brian Ciccone, linebacker McNally, cornerback Horace Chalstrom and safety Daniel Rowe.

(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at 369-3341 or tosullivan@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @timosullivan20.)

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