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September 28. 2012 12:42AM

Allen Lessels' College Football: Delaware next to test UNH 'D'

DURHAM -- Delaware coach K.C. Keeler, no doubt, pored over the statistics. He studied the game tape, too.

And no, Keeler said during the Colonial Athletic Association teleconference on Monday morning, he was not salivating over the very thought of turning his offense loose against the University of New Hampshire defense.

Keeler brings his No. 8-ranked team and its 4-0 record to Cowell Stadium on Saturday at noon to take on UNH. The Wildcats are ranked No. 20, at 2-2, after a wild and crazy 64-61 loss last Saturday at Old Dominion, which is now 4-0 and No. 4 in the country.

ODU’s 64 points and a whopping 730 yards of passing offense by quarterback Taylor Heinicke mean nothing now, Keeler said.

“Sometimes matchups create situations,” he said.

Conditions, too.

“We were down about half an hour from them (beating William & Mary 51-21) and it was hot,” Keeler said. “Between the heat and the 100 snaps the offense was getting, I’m sure the defense eventually wore down and that was a big contributing factor in the points.”

UNH led 40-24 at halftime and 54-38 at the end of the third period, but could not quite hold on.

The Wildcats lost two senior defensive linemen, Jared Smith and Randi Vines, to knee injuries during the game and free safety Chris Beranger left with a concussion. By the end, the defense had little pass rush and Old Dominion kept coming.

“And they did a real good job of attacking what we were doing,” said UNH coach Sean McDonnell.

On the other side, Andy Vailas, the sophomore out of Bedford and Bishop Guertin of Nashua, did much right and led a potent Wildcat group that piled up 725 yards of offense of its own and the 61 points against what had been the best scoring defense in the league. The Monarchs had allowed 38 points total in their first three games.

Delaware now leads the league in scoring defense. The Blue Hens and James Madison are each allowing 14.8 points a game.

UNH rolled to 336 yards rushing against Old Dominion, 202 on 21 carries by sophomore Nico Steriti. His was the first 200-yard day for a Wildcat since Stephan Lewis went for 258 against Massachusetts in 2001.

Delaware prefers running to passing and the Wildcat defense will have to stop junior Andrew Pierce and the rest of the Blue Hens.

McDonnell hopes Smith and Vines will be able to play, but said Beranger is out.

The time for thinking about 61 points and Old Dominion is long past.

“You’ve got to forget about it, even though you let up 700 passing yards, or whatever it was,” said senior linebacker and captain Allan Buzbee. “It was a tough game mentally, a tough game physically. But as quickly as you forget about a win, you’ve got to forget about a loss.”

Keeler said he puts little stock in last week’s numbers.

“You watch (UNH) defensively,” he said, “They’re very sound. The kids are physical up front. They might not get as much four-man pressure as some teams do, but those kids are relentless. We want to run the ball at them. That’s a better matchup for them.”

The Wildcats are counting on it.

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Dartmouth, 2-0, faces Pennsylvania, 0-2, in Hanover on Saturday at noon in the Ivy League opener for both teams.

The only Dartmouth win in the series since 1997 was a 21-13 decision in Hanover in 2007.

Sophomore Alex Park, a transfer from UNH, has completed 24 of his 37 passes for the Big Green for 298 yards and a touchdown. He’s been intercepted twice. Running back Dominick Pierre has 50 carries for 255 yards and three TDs.

Dartmouth beat Butler, 35-7, at home in its opener and knocked off Holy Cross, 13-10, in Worcester, Mass., last week on a 31-yard field goal by sophomore Riley Lyons with 31 seconds to play.

Penn lost its opener at Lafayette, 28-21, and fell to Villanova, 24-8, last week.

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Something’s got to give in the St. Anselm at Southern Connecticut contest on Saturday at 1. Each team is 0-4 going into the game.

Southern Connecticut lost to Stonehill, 13-0, on Sept. 8 and the Hawks lost to Stonehill, 35-20, on Sept. 14.

The Owls beat St. Anselm, 59-34, in Goffstown last year and lead the series, 10-2.

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Plymouth State owns a five-game winning streak against Nichols, its opponent for Homecoming on Saturday at 1 on Currier Field. PSU leads the series with Nichols, 18-9-1, and won last year’s game, 27-14.

The Panthers are 0-3 overall and 0-1 in the New England Football Conference and Nichols is 0-4, 0-1.

Plymouth State, led by senior Andrew Foglia, is averaging 220 yards a game on the ground. Foglia averages 5 yards a carry and 100 yards a game.

Connor Richard, a freshman defensive back from Londonderry, has eight tackles for Nichols.

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Franklin Pierce University plays its second sprint football game on Sunday against Pennsylvania on the Ravens’ home field at Oakmont Regional High School in Ashburnham, Mass.

The Ravens lost their inaugural game last week to Cornell, 26-21.

Connor Rogowsky, a freshman linebacker out of Nashua South, led the Ravens with eight tackles and Nick Trochalakis, a freshman defensive lineman from Spaulding in Rochester, had seven. Freshman defensive back Shawn DeCost, also from Nashua South, had an interception.

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


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