Scrimmage leaves Wildcats hurting

Last modified: 8/27/2010 12:00:00 AM
DURHAM - The scrimmage began and ended in precisely the wrong way - with injuries.

Starting quarterback R.J. Toman injured his ankle during the first series of yesterday's annual Blue/White Fall Scrimmage at the University of New Hampshire, and junior wide receiver Mickey Mangieri suffered a leg injury with 8:43 left in the fourth quarter. Mangieri's injury was so severe Coach Sean McDonnell elected to end the scrimmage without running another play and the Wildcats filed somberly out of Cowell Stadium as Mangieri was still being attended to on the field.

'He's got a serious leg injury. I don't know the extent of it, but I know it's bad,' said an emotional McDonnell.

Toman's injury was far less serious, although he was walking with a considerable limp and an ice bag for the entire scrimmage. The senior captain had just completed a pass to Joey Orlando when a UNH defender fell onto his ankle and ended his day.

'If we had a game, (Toman) probably could have come back and played,' McDonnell said. 'But we don't need to play him in this scrimmage, so we just put him on the side.'

Backup quarterback Kevin Decker immediately took on a bigger workload and took advantage. The junior went 21-for-25 for 197 yards and two touchdowns and led the Wildcats' first offense on three trips to the end zone during his six series of action, mostly against the second-string defense. If the 'Cats need to start Decker in the season opener against Central Connecticut State on Sept. 4, he looked plenty ready yesterday.

'I think I did all right,' Decker said. 'I made some mistakes, checked out of one play I shouldn't have and two bad locations on two balls, but besides that, I think we got three touchdowns, so that's a pretty good day.'

'Deck did a good job, just what he does in practice,' McDonnell said. 'I thought when he started zeroing in and throwing the ball instead of feathering some things, he made some pretty good throws and pretty good reads.'

His prettiest play was also his last when checked off at the line of scrimmage and zipped a 7-yard touchdown pass over the turned head of a cornerback and into the outstretched hands of Mike Greene (four catches, 32 yards).

Kevon Mason finished with a game-high five catches for 52 yards, Terrance Fox had two catches for 29 yards and freshman Jim Giansante caught a 57-yard scoring bomb from freshman quarterback Alex Park (11-for-15, 146 yards). It's a receiving corps that has potential, but will surely miss Mangieri.

'A lot falls on (Fox) now and we've got to find somebody to share some time at that (slot) position to make things go,' McDonnell said. 'You've got Joey Orlando, Manny Asam, R.J. Harris, a freshman, and somebody in my mind has to start helping out there.'

Senior Sean Jellison sat out the scrimmage as a precautionary health measure, so the rest of the running backs got a few more looks. Redshirt freshman Chris Setian impressed with his bullish, straight-ahead style and finished with 82 yards and a touchdown on 13 carries. Redshirt freshman Derek Coppola (seven carries, 57 yards) showed good quickness and vision and true freshman Nico Steriti displayed the entire package, the type of performance that may make McDonnell consider playing him this year.

The UNH first-string defense played well, holding the second-string offense to just one scoring drive. The Wildcats totaled six sacks, recovered a fumble and blocked a field goal. Portsmouth's Rod Walker had a nice day at strong safety and finished tied for the team lead with eight tackles and a sack.

'Defensively, I hope that's how we play,' McDonnell said. 'Our defense has an opportunity to be okay if it plays hard and stops the run.'




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