UNH Insider: Another long wait over for football team

  • UNH quarterback Max Brosmer drops back to pass during a game against Albany at Wildcat Stadium in Durham on March 5. Brosmer and the Wildcats are back in action on Saturday at Rhode Island. University of New Hampshire Athletics—Courtesy

Published: 4/2/2021 5:37:03 PM

DURHAM –  They waited a long, long time to play a game – 468 days to be precise – and when they finally did, the Wildcats of the University of New Hampshire football team did not much like how things turned out.

Little did Sean McDonnell’s team know when it dropped the opener to its first spring season ever to the University at Albany on March 5 in Wildcat Stadium that it would be in for another long wait before it got a second chance to play. 

“We got that first taste vs. Albany and obviously it wasn’t a good one,” said senior center Matt Mascia. “It’s something that left us wanting more.”

At long last, after a bye week and then a pair of postponements caused by COVID-19 against first Delaware at home and then Villanova on the road, the Wildcats get back to it Saturday with a 1 p.m. game at the University of Rhode Island, a Colonial Athletic Association rival off to an impressive start.

The No. 22 Rams, led by a few newcomers, opened the season with a pair of overtime wins, both on the road, both against CAA teams ranked in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25. They knocked off then-No. 6 Villanova, 40-37 in OT in their opener, and followed up with a 17-10 OT win at then-No. 18 Albany.

One of the newcomers, quarterback Kasim Hill, a 6-foot-2 and 234-pound junior, scored the winning touchdown in each of the overtimes, on a 2-yard run against Villanova and 25-yarder against Albany.

Hill started a couple games at Maryland as a freshman before being injured in 2017, started the first 10 games of the season, also at Maryland, in 2018 and then was hurt again. He went to Tennessee and sat out as a transfer and then came to Rhode Island.

He’s one of two dual-threat, transfer quarterbacks who have played for the Rams this season. Sophomore Brandon Robinson, 6-4 and 215 pounds, played as a backup at Liberty as a redshirt freshman in 2019. He ran for a pair of scores in Rhode Island’s 35-21 loss to No. 9 Delaware last Saturday.

“They both have pretty good skill sets,” said UNH coach Sean McDonnell. “They can run and they can pass. I think they’ve got a pretty good combination of quarterbacks.”

Sophomore linebacker Oleh Manzyk will be among those charged with slowing the QBs and the Rams down.

“Don’t rush out of your run gaps,” Manzyk said was one of the keys to dealing with quarterbacks who like to run. “Make sure you’re stout in them. When a pass does develop, make sure you get your eyes back on the quarterback because at any moment he could just pull it down and start running and that could lead to some issues down the road.”

Rhode Island went for 234 yards rushing and 494 total yards of offense against Villanova. Redshirt freshman Kevin Brown, Jr. had 20 carries for 141 yards and four TDs in that game. He played three games for the University of Massachusetts in 2019 – with 120 rushing yards and a touchdown – before transferring to URI.

The new guys on defense include senior safety Coby Tippett, who had an interception against Villanova and a pair of them against UAlbany. The son of former Patriot and NFL Hall of Famer Andre Tippett, he played three seasons at Towson and was a third-team, all-CAA pick in 2019.

Offensively, the Wildcats need to hold onto the ball so they don’t give Rhode Island any extra possessions and need to do a better job of establishing a running game, McDonnell said.

Junior Carlos Washington, Jr. carried 10 times for 30 yards against Albany and sophomore Dylan Laube eight for 36 yards.

Besides being sure with their assignments, the offensive linemen need to step up their approach, said senior center Matt Mascia.

“Like Coach Mac said, we have to bring that attitude, we have to bring that little edge to the run game,” Mascia said. “It just wasn’t there the first game. We have to work on it and get back to it.” 

Extra points

■After Saturday’s game at Rhode Island, UNH faces Stony Brook at home in Wildcat Stadium on Saturday, April 10 at noon and then finishes the regular season with its Battle for the Brice-Cowell Musket contest at Maine on Saturday, April 17 at 2 p.m.  

■Sixteen teams will participate in the FCS tournament at the end of the season.   

■The Wildcats begin their 11-game 2021 fall season with a CAA game at Stony Brook on Sept. 4. 

■Rhode Island fell to No. 22 in the Stats Perform FCS Top 25 this week after losing to Delaware, which moved up to No. 9. 

■The Rams were at No. 18 after their first two wins. 

■All of UNH’s games will be available on FloFootball and on the radio over the Wildcat Sports Network. UNH’s home games during the spring are on NBC Sports Boston

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