Offense makes up ground in UNH’s Blue-White Game
DURHAM – In the first scrimmage of camp, the defense dominated. But when the University of New Hampshire football team held its second, and final, scrimmage yesterday at Cowell Stadium, the offense showed its progress.
“We’ve been kind of waiting for that. Obviously the last scrimmage wasn’t really who we are as an offense,” quarterback Sean Goldrich said. “So today we showed up. … We just executed and we were a little calmer today as well, and that always helps us get a flow in the offense. We looked good. We felt good.”
The Wildcats, ranked No. 4 in the preseason FCS Coaches poll, will try to bring those good feelings to Ohio on Aug. 30 when they open the season against FBS Toledo.
After scoring just one touchdown in the scrimmage on Aug. 12, the Wildcats reached the end zone six times in yesterday’s Blue-White Game with five passing touchdowns and one on the ground. But it wasn’t all bad news for the defense, which came up with five turnovers – three interceptions and two fumble recoveries.
“I think the offense got a little better from eight days ago when we were here,” UNH Coach Sean McDonnell said. “I thought they spread us out a little bit and did some things. I also was pleased that we created some turnovers, some interceptions, on breaks. It wasn’t like these fell out of the sky into our laps. A couple of guys broke downhill and made some plays.”
The play of the day also epitomized the game. Sophomore receiver Kyon Taylor (four catches, 77 yards) beat sophomore corner Casey DeAndrade, UNH’s top cover man, on a long route down the left sideline. Goldrich hit Taylor for what looked like a sure touchdown, but DeAndrade chased him down and stripped the ball free at the 1 to prevent the score and end the drive on the final play of the first half.
“I got beat,” DeAndrade said. “(The coaches) harp on never giving up on a play, no loafs. Run to the ball is the key on defense, and I just ran to the ball and just got it.”
Goldrich, a junior, finished 14-for-20 for 166 yards and an interception and led all five quarterbacks in completions and yards, but he was the only one of the five who didn’t throw a touchdown pass. Senior Andy Vailas (8-for-12, 91 yards), sophomore Adam Riese (6-for-11, 40 yards) and sophomore Chris McCormick (6-for-9, 40 yards) each had one touchdown pass, and freshman Trevor Knight (6-for-13, 123 yards) connected with freshman Rory Donovan (three catches, game-high 95 yards) for two touchdowns.
The starting job still belongs to Goldrich, but Vailas is still a close second, or maybe even closer than that.
“It’s tough because they’re both really good players and they’re both really good competitors,” McDonnell said of Goldrich and Vailas. “And here’s the deal, we know Sean can start, we know Andy can start … it’s 1 and 1A in my mind.”
Riese and McCormick both showed a good handle on the offense and the ability to make plays, and both threw an interception, so the battle for the No. 3 spot is still up for debate. And Knight, who was throwing passes for Nashua South last fall, impressed with his legs (four carries, 22 yards) and his ability to throw downfield (three completions for more than 20 yards).
“That was Trevor Knight’s first chance to go in a live situation. He got beat up a little bit at the end, but the first couple drives in there he did a nice job,” McDonnell said.
Asked what he was watching for yesterday, the first thing McDonnell said was: “the right tackle position on offense.” Junior Austin Heter got the start there, but McDonnell wasn’t ready to name him the starter for the opener before looking at the tape.
Sophomore Andrew Lauderdale, a Trinity High grad who is from Concord, started at left tackle with the second-string offensive line and played well. Lauderdale, who is probably still in the mix for that starting right tackle spot, was on the field when the Wildcats had their best drive rushing the ball, opening holes for redshirt freshman Donald Goodrich (team-high 45 yards on eight carries).
Sophomores Alexander Morrill, a Lebanon product, and Tad McNeely, who both worked their way into the starting o-line last year, were both out with minor injuries. That gave junior George Kallas and sophomore Curtis Nealer a chance to play with the first string along with Heter, senior captain Rob Bowman (left tackle) and senior center Mike Coccia.
“I thought they did a great job,” Goldrich said of his offensive line. “It seems like (offensive line coach Alex) Miller and (offensive coordinator Ryan) Carty were happy with what they were doing, so it was a good job all around up front.”
Junior corner Lamar Edmonds, junior safety Daniel Rowe and redshirt freshman safety Nick Marino from Hudson each had interceptions. Rowe and Edmonds made good reads and better breaks to cut in front of receivers, while Marino gathered in an overthrow. DeAndrade and sophomore corner Horace Chalstrom came up with the two fumble recoveries.
∎ Marino and freshman Shawn Cavallaro from Hanover each finished with a game-high seven tackles. Freshman safety D’Andre Drummond-Mayrie had six tackles. DeAndrade and the two starting linebackers in UNH’s 4-2-5 scheme, Akil Anderson and Shane McNeely, each had five tackles. Freshman Ryan Sosnak had the game’s only two sacks.
∎ Freshman Kieran Presley finished with a game-high five catches for 64 yards, including a 7-yard touchdown reception from McCormick. “(Presley) has been making plays all camp,” McDonnell said.
∎ Senior R.J. Harris, the team’s top receiving threat, saw limited action but had three catches for 64 yards and scored the only rushing touchdown on a 6-yard reverse. Junior receiver Mike Kelly from Merrimack (three catches, 14 yards) caught a 4-yard scoring pass from Riese, and senior running back Jimmy Owens turned a short pass in the flat from Vailas into a 30-yard touchdown reception.
∎ Redshirt freshman Max Pedinoff connected on the game’s only field goal attempt, a 32-yarder. Christian Breda went 3-for-3 kicking PATs.
(Tim O’Sullivan can be reached at email@example.com or 369-3341 or on Twittter @timosullivan20.)