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UNH welcomes confident Spiders today

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 12. 2012 9:17PM

New Hampshire Wildcats head football coach Sean McDonnell. (Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE)

DURHAM - The University of Richmond, like New Hampshire, brings an overall record of 4-2 and a Colonial Athletic Association mark of 2-1 into today's Homecoming game at Cowell Stadium.

And, like the Wildcats, the Spiders' two losses have been to a Football Bowl Subdivision team and a close setback to Old Dominion, currently ranked No. 3 in the country with a 5-0 record.

Unlike UNH, Richmond is not ranked among the Top 25 teams in the nation.

That, said UNH coach Sean McDonnell, is a mistake.

'I think they should be in the Top 25,' McDonnell said. 'They're that good. They're a real physical team on both sides of the ball.'

UNH is ranked No. 12 in this week's The Sports Network poll and No. 13 in the FCS Coaches poll.

Richmond likely still suffers from a rough 2011 season when it comes to the voters. The Spiders were 3-8 a year ago.

After losing their opener at Virginia, 43-19, the Spiders beat Gardner-Webb, 41-8, VMI, 47-6, and Georgia State, 35-14.

They lost at home to Old Dominion, 45-37, and then went on the road to knock off Villanova, 28-17.

Senior quarterback John Laub, a player UNH recruited, has completed 60 percent of his passes for eight touchdowns and has been intercepted twice. Junior wide receiver Ben Edwards has 41 catches for 511 yards and a pair of scores.

The Spiders are passing for twice as many yards a game as they are rushing (270 yards to 135) and like UNH have excelled in turnover margin. The Wildcats lead the CAA with a plus-10 turnover differential and Richmond is right behind at plus-9.

The teams share the league lead with 11 interceptions.

Richmond has only given up one quarterback sack all season. UNH leads the league with 18 sacks.

'I think they're playing with great confidence,' McDonnell said. 'We're going to find out where we're at in the league.'

The Wildcats passed the halfway mark of the regular season in last Saturday's 44-21 win at Georgia State.

Four of their first six games were on the road - including trips to Minnesota, Virginia and Georgia - and now they have three of their last five at home and don't have to leave New England.

'You come back and you're playing at Homecoming now and you've got to hold serve in this game, you've got to,' McDonnell said. 'If we want to get to November and have any meaningful games, this is a game that you don't want to look back over your shoulder and say, shoulda, woulda, coulda.'

The Wildcats have won eight straight home games and 20 of the last 21 games in Cowell.

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UNH plays at Maine next Saturday, at Rhode Island on Oct. 27 and closes out with home games against William & Mary on Nov. 3 and Towson on Nov. 17. . . . Quarterback Andy Vailas, a sophomore out of Bedford and Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, has completed 100 of his 168 passes (59.5 percent) for 1,242 yards and 13 touchdowns. He has been intercepted twice. . . . Senior cornerback Dontra Peters missed last week's game with a foot injury and is expected to play today. Junior safety Chris Beranger will miss his third straight game with concussion symptoms. . . . Sophomore wide receiver R.J. Harris has 41 catches for 571 yards and five scores. Senior Joey Orlando has 28 for 315 yards and four TDs.

University Sports Football Durham