UNH Insider: Lupoli Makes 1st Career Start vs. Colgate Saturday

  • Lupoli

  • Ivan Niyomugabo

  • Tommy Herion

  • Stephen Hedberg

For the Monitor
Published: 9/5/2018 11:46:54 PM

For only the second time since 2015, someone other than Trevor Knight will start a game at quarterback for the University of New Hampshire football team this weekend.

Sophomore Christian Lupoli will make his first career start in Saturday’s 6 p.m. home opener against Colgate in Wildcat Stadium. Lupoli came on in relief of an injured Knight to lead the Wildcats to an NCAA FCS Division I tournament win at Central Arkansas last December.

“Chris is a good football player,” UNH coach Sean McDonnell said during his weekly media session Wednesday. “He knows and understands the game. Has a good feel for the game. He locates the ball very, very well. He’s got an accurate arm. When he gets time to set and see what’s going on, he’s pretty good.”

Lupoli and the No. 20 Wildcats look to bounce back from a season-opening 35-7 loss to Maine against Colgate.

Colgate held off Holy Cross, 24-17, at home to open its season Saturday. The Raiders were picked first in the preseason Patriot League poll.

Knight left the Maine game with a right shoulder injury. The senior quarterback will miss at least Saturday’s game, McDonnell said, who added that a timetable for his return is uncertain at this point.

“He’s got a bad AC sprain,” McDonnell said. “Landed right on the shoulder. Got an MRI on Tuesday. The good thing about the MRI is it showed no damage. Everything was fine with it. A lot of bruising. A lot of soreness. Very, very poor range of motion right now.”

Knight has started 27 of UNH’s last 28 games at quarterback (he missed a game to injury late in the 2016 season) and was named the Colonial Athletic Association Offensive Preseason Player of the Year.

Lupoli replaced Knight in the second quarter of the playoff game against Central Arkansas. He completed a 9-yard scoring pass to Malik Love in the fourth quarter to help the Wildcats post a 21-15 win. Lupoli completed eight of his 10 passes for 63 yards in the game.

“I think it helps a lot, knowing I’ve gone in there and helped the team get a win, especially in a tough environment like Arkansas was,” Lupoli said. “I’m excited for this week. This is what I came here for, to play and help this team win. I couldn’t be more excited.”

UNH faced another tough environment at Maine and is now looking ahead.

“The whole message was see what happened,” McDonnell said. “Let’s correct. Let’s learn from it. And then erase it because these next 10 games are huge for us. More importantly this next one is huge for us. It’s the next one we always talk about. Want to get to 1-1 on Saturday night. That’s a huge, huge task against a good Colgate team.”

Lupoli connected with running back Carlos Washington, Jr. for a 62-yard touchdown play in the second half against Maine.

The Wildcats are out to run the ball and move it better overall against Colgate.

“To make things happen, it’s not just running the football,” McDonnell said. “It’s creating some space with some bubble screens, creating some space with some quick game, creating some space with some play action pass so that people are on their heels and just can’t load up and take it downhill on you.”

With Lupoli stepping into the starting job Saturday, redshirt freshman Tommy Herion is the backup and redshirt freshman Stephen Hedberg moves up the depth chart as well.

Merrimack Valley grad Ivan Niyomugabo has been taking snaps at quarterback this week, too.

“Just in case,” McDonnell said.

Niyomugabo, a junior, has been a quarterback through most of his UNH career but was moved to wide receiver last spring.

Next up

The Wildcats follow Colgate with their FBS game against Colorado at Folsom Field in Boulder on Saturday, Sept. 15 at 5 p.m. Eastern time.

The Buffaloes beat Colorado State, 45-13, in their opener Friday at Sports Authority Field at Mile High in Denver.

UNH has a week off after Colorado and then plays at Elon on Sept. 29 at 1:30 p.m.

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