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Wildcats football team hopes to take advantage of home cooking against Colgate

By ALLEN LESSELS
UNH Insider

September 08. 2018 12:22AM

DURHAM — Home’s been sweet, the numbers eye-popping.

The run of success the University of New Hampshire football team has been on for nearly a decade and a half has been fueled in large part by its dominance on its home turf.

Today, the home run will be put to the test once again when Colgate University, the preseason pick to be the Patriot League champion, comes to Wildcat Stadium for a 6 p.m. game.

The No. 20 Wildcats will look for an assist from their fans in their bid to bounce back from last week’s season-opening loss at Maine. Colgate beat Holy Cross, 24-17, in its first game last Saturday at home.

“It will be a tremendous boost to us right now, especially coming off the loss last week,” said junior cornerback Isiah Perkins. “Hopefully it will start a lot of momentum for us. For the most part, playing at home gives us an advantage just because you’re comfortable. And you really want to get off to a good start, especially for our fans.”

UNH’s early season schedule cranks the stakes even higher: Tonight’s game is the team’s only home game before October.

The Wildcats are 52-7 at home since 2008 and have lost only four regular-season games in that stretch. They have also won 13 straight home openers.

“Especially right now, you want to be able to play at home in the Dungeon with all our fans here, more importantly the comfortable feeling we have with the success we’ve had,” said head coach Sean McDonnell.

Colgate has its own piece of history here.

The Raiders own one of the seven wins by opponents in Durham in the last decade.

UNH knocked off Colgate 28-6 on the road early in the 2015 season. Later that year, Colgate came to Durham for a first-round game in the NCAA FCS Division I tournament and beat the Wildcats, 27-20, in the final game of Cowell Stadium.

“I have a memory of them coming in here a couple of years ago and beating us in the playoffs,” McDonnell said. “I don’t think they’re going to be awed by all this. I think they’re going to be engaged in it. That’s what our guys do. The good thing is we’ll be engaged and hopefully we’ll get a good great turnout from our local fans and the students as well.”

The Wildcats will be missing veteran senior quarterback Trevor Knight against Colgate. Knight, who has started every UNH game but one the last two seasons, is recovering from a shoulder injury that knocked him out of the game in the second period against Maine.

Sophomore Christian Lupoli will start at quarterback. He also stepped in last December when Knight went down in a second-round playoff game at Central Arkansas and led the team to a win.

Redshirt freshman Tommy Herion will back up Lupoli and redshirt freshman Stephen Hedberg moves up the depth chart as well.

McDonnell said junior Ivan Niyomugabo worked out at quarterback this week in case he’s needed. A quarterback during most of his time at UNH, Niyomugabo has been playing wide receiver since last spring.

Lupoli connected with redshirt freshman running back Carlos Washington, Jr. for a 62-yard scoring play for UNH’s touchdown against Maine.

The UNH defense must contend with a Colgate offense led by sophomore quarterback Grant Breneman, who was the Patriot League Freshman of the Year last season. He completed 13 of his 19 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns against Holy Cross.


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