Wildcats aware of situation
The members of the University of New Hampshire football team want to be hoisting a Colonial Athletic Association championship trophy sometime around 3:30 this afternoon at Cowell Stadium, celebrating the school's first outright league title since 1994.
The Wildcats are looking to knock off Towson on Senior Day for their seventh straight win to finish off the regular season and set themselves up in the best way possible for a ninth straight appearance in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision tournament.
"The kids are excited about playing," said UNH coach Sean McDonnell on Friday afternoon. "They've got a great opportunity ahead of themselves and they're looking forward to playing the game. They're looking forward to playing for a championship. In this day and age with the media and the Internet and all that stuff, they know what's on the line. These guys are all smart guys."
The Wildcats are ranked No. 7 in the country and take an 8-2 overall record and 6-1 mark in the CAA into today's game, which will be televised live on WBIN. Towson is ranked No. 17 at 6-4 and 5-2 and needs to win to keep its playoff hopes alive.
UNH is the only team that can win the championship outright, along with the automatic bid to the tournament that goes with it.
If the Wildcats win, they will have at least a shot of being awarded a home game for the playoffs. If they lose, they should still make the playoffs, but will be leaving things in the hands of the selection committee.
Winning won't be easy.
"Towson is one of the best teams in the country," McDonnell said. "They've lost four tough games, two to Division I teams (at Kent State, 41-21, and at LSU, 38-22) and two to top CAA teams. They battled everyone else. They were ahead of LSU. That's the kind of team we're dealing with. We're dealing with probably the best team in the CAA."
Towson led LSU, 9-7, with three minutes to go in the first half. The 22 points Towson put up were the most LSU has allowed against any opponent this season.
UNH had no answers for Tiger freshman running back Terrance West last year and lost a 56-42 shootout in Maryland. West carried 23 times for 261 yards and four touchdowns.
West is averaging 90 yards a game this season and has scored 12 TDs.
Last week, senior Dominique Booker had seven carries for 181 yards, including an 83-yard touchdown, in a 41-10 win over Rhode Island.
Like UNH, Towson has nice offensive balance between the run and the pass.
Senior quarterback Grant Enders has completed 65 percent of his passes and thrown for 17 touchdowns and had eight passes intercepted.
Towson leads the CAA in total defense, allowing 310 yards per game, and sacks with 29. UNH is ninth in total defense at 410 yards.
The Tigers will be playing without senior safety Jordan Dangerfield. He was suspended for one game by the CAA after being called for two unsportsmanlike conduct penalties against Rhode Island.
Redshirt freshman Sean Goldrich will start at quarterback for UNH and Andy Vailas, a sophomore out of Bedford and Bishop Guertin, will also play, McDonnell said.
Sophomores Nico Steriti, a running back, and R.J. Harris a receiver, are UNH's two biggest threats on offense.
Steriti is averaging 80.7 yards a game and 6.9 yards a carry.
Harris leads the league in catches per game (7.1) and yards per game (96.1). He has 71 catches, tied for fifth on the single season list for catches in a season. His 961 yards in receptions put him at No. 7 on that list.
Junior Tim Farina, a wide receiver out of Plymouth, has been cleared and is on a couple of UNH special teams. Farina broke his collarbone in the final pre-season scrimmage.
Senior captain and cornerback Dontra Peters, who missed UNH's last game against William & Mary with an injury, is ready to go. He leads the Wildcats with four interceptions.