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September 03. 2012 12:22AM

UNH Notebook: Wildcat football to play at Minnesota Saturday

REDSHIRT FRESHMAN Sean Goldrich and the University of New Hampshire football team successfully passed their first test of the season with Thursday night's impressive 38-17 road win at Holy Cross.

A tougher challenge comes Saturday in Minneapolis.

The Golden Gophers of the University of Minnesota have not been a power in the Big Ten in recent years, but it's still the Big Ten with its generally bigger and faster athletes and more scholarships.

Minnesota, 3-9 each of the past two seasons, won its own road opener on Thursday night when it outlasted UNLV in Las Vegas, 30-27, in three overtimes.

“I've been watching them and they're a different breed,” UNH coach Sean McDonnell said on Sunday. “Different size-wise, different speed-wise, different scheme-wise. The quarterback is huge and he can run. They do a lot of things in their offense.”

The quarterback is senior MarQueis Gray and he goes 6-foot-4 and 250 pounds.

He completed 17 of his 30 passes against UNLV for 269 yards and two touchdowns and had one interception. He also ran 17 times for 68 yards.

Gray was only 15-for-28 passing in regulation, but came through in overtime and completed both of his passes to John Rabe for touchdowns. He ran for nearly 1,000 yards last year and completed just over 50 percent of his passes then, too. He had eight touchdown passes and eight interceptions

The Gophers held UNLV to 275 yards of offense and harassed Nick Sherry, a redshirt freshman quarterback, into a couple of sacks and three interceptions.

“Defensively, they're very, very strong,” McDonnell said. “This is going to be another major challenge. The difference from Thursday night to Saturday is going to be immense.”

McDonnell loved the way Goldrich distributed the ball to various playmakers on Thursday and the way his defense ran to the ball and tackled for the most part.

“I give him a lot of credit,” the coach said of his QB. “For a redshirt freshman, he went in and showed a lot of poise.”

Goldrich completed 21 of his 31 passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns, a couple of other passes were dropped, and the Wildcats had no turnovers.

The quarterback sad he was a little nervous early about his first college game, but got over it.

“One of the things that really took a lot of pressure off was when I stepped on the field and saw all my offensive guys and all my defensive guys,” he said. “I knew that I was going to be in a fight with some great players.”

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IT'S EXPECTED that sophomore defensive tackle Tim Johnson will miss at least a month. He dislocated his wrist in the fourth quarter on a hit on which a Holy Cross player was called for unnecessary roughness.

The Wildcats could get senior defensive lineman Randi Vines, who has been out with a knee injury, back for this week to help fill the void, McDonnell said. He said the coaching staff will also decide if to wants to move defensive end Jimmy Vailas, a junior out of Bedford and Kimball Union Academy in Meriden, inside to tackle.

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The UNH Coach's Show returns to the Wildcat Sports Radio Network tonight when McDonnell will talk with Mike Murphy of the school's media relations department about the Holy Cross game and look ahead to Minnesota.

The show will be broadcast each Monday night from 7 to 8 p.m. from Buffalo Wild Wings at the Fox Run Mall in Newington. All fans at the restaurant during the first commercial break tonight will receive a complimentary ticket to UNH's home opener on Sept. 15 against Central Connecticut State.

WGIR 610 AM is the flagship station of the Wildcats Sports Radio Network.

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THE FIELD HOCKEY TEAM, which owns a 1-2 record, plays Syracuse at home on Friday at 2 p.m.

The Wildcats are coming off a 9-1 win over Brown on Wednesday. Junior Hannah Richard of Hopkinton had two goals and an assist and senior Emma Erler of New Hampton had a goal and two assists against Brown ... The volleyball team hosts the annual Holly Young Invitational this weekend. The Wildcats, who improved their record to 2-5 with a 3-0 win over Iona on Saturday, play Holy Cross on Friday night at 7. They take on Central Connecticut at 12:30 p.m. and William & Mary at 7 on Saturday.

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SENIOR Cory Sinotte and sophomore Sam Gagnon, both out of Manchester Central High School, were the top two finishers for UNH in Friday's home cross country meet against Providence College. Sinotte was fourth and Gagnon sixth in the race won by the Friars.

Junior Anne Twombly of Exeter was third and Chelsey Serrano, a sophomore out of Trinity in Manchester, was fifth in the women's meet, also won by PC. Megan Boucher, a senior out of Manchester Central, was 10th, freshman McKenzie Haney of Merrimack Valley in Penacook was 11th and senior Erin Phillips of Belmont finished 13th.

Next up for the cross country teams is the pre-conference meet in Durham on Sept. 14.

Allen Lessels covers UNH athletics for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. He may be reached at alessels@unionleader.com.

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