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Blue-White scrimmage will answer questions for UNH football

Special to the Union Leader

August 16. 2017 12:29AM

Blue-White Game
When: Next Tuesday, noon

Where: Wildcat Stadium

Admission: Free

DURHAM — One down, one to go.

The University of New Hampshire football team went through drills and scrimmaged at Wildcat Stadium on Monday night.

The Wildcats have one scrimmage remaining — the fall Blue-White game next Tuesday at noon — before they open the 2017 season.

UNH opens the season with a familiar foe in an unusual spot on the schedule. The Wildcats square off against border rival Maine for a “Thursday Night Throwdown” battle on Thursday, Aug. 31 at 7 p.m. The two teams traditionally meet in the last regular season game of the year.

“It’s closing in,” coach Sean McDonnell told his team after Monday night’s scrimmage. “It’s getting here quickly.”

The offense had its most productive moments early and late in Monday night’s scrimmage. The defense shined in the middle parts.

McDonnell was happy with the offense in an early “coming out” session of the controlled scrimmage, when the unit tried to work its way out of difficult field position.

“I was really pleased with the offense coming out, when they were moving the ball and all we were trying to get was 10 yards and a first down,” he said. “They really executed in that coming out period, which is huge. That’s a big field position thing and it’s hard to practice. We got that done. Then we got into the scrimmage a little bit and it was a little back and forth and the defense was coming on. We made a couple of plays.”

Senior Rick Holt of Portsmouth and junior Ryan Sosnak are back for a second year as starters at defensive tackle. Junior linebacker Jared Kuehl of Plymouth was fourth on the team in tackles last year.

“Holt and Sosnak start it off on the inside,” McDonnell said. “I thought Kuehl showed up running to the ball pretty good and our safeties tackled well in open space.”

Receivers Malik Love, a sophomore, and Rory Donovan, a junior, each had a couple of impressive catches on Monday night.

“I was pleased with Love,” McDonnell said. “I was pleased that Donovan made a couple of good catches. I’ve got to see how we blocked up front and what we did. The protection’s got to get better. But we’re OK.”

Love led UNH receivers in catches with 59 for 520 yards and a touchdown last year. Junior Neil O’Connor had 58 catches for 834 yards and six TDs. Donovan had 27 catches for 348 yards and three scores.

Amherst’s Trevor Knight directed the first team offense in the scrimmage and created plays with his throwing and scrambling ability.

“Trevor has the ability to throw and run and when he’s going on the run and getting going, it’s going to give us a great opportunity offensively to do things,” McDonnell said.

Knight completed 179 of his 310 passes (56.1 percent) last year for 1,714 yards and 14 touchdowns with 10 interceptions. He also rushed for 622 total yards (he had 226 yards in losses for a net of 396 yards) and four touchdowns.

The Wildcats closed out the regular season last year with a 24-21 win at Maine, a victory that propelled the team to a 13th straight appearance in the NCAA Division I tournament, the longest such streak in the nation.

College Durham