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Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: Wildcats trying for the sweet note on the gridiron
They ran off six straight wins and earned a share of the Colonial Athletic Association championship and qualified for the NCAA’s Football Championship Subdivision tournament for a nation’s-best ninth straight season.
“It was a tough ending to a nice story,” said Andy Vailas of Bedford, now a junior and again vying for the starting job at quarterback with sophomore Sean Goldrich.
Last November, the Wildcats were rolling and had beaten William & Mary for the first time in more than a decade for that sixth consecutive win and were looking to avenge a beating they had taken the year before at Towson.
The Wildcats, 8-3 in the regular season at the time and 6-2 in the CAA, received a bid and a first-round bye to the FCS playoffs the next day.
The offense collected just 238 yards of total offense — it averaged 451.7 for the season — and the only points came on a 14-yard return of a fumble by defensive end Cody Muller.
Wofford marked the first time UNH had lost consecutive games to FCS teams in a single season since 2007.
“It motivates us for this year,” Vailas said. “We’re still thinking about it. It’s in the back of our minds and pushing us. It’s tough to end the season like that, but we’ll correct those mistakes.”
But UNH’s finish did not sit well with players or coaches and they look forward to getting back on the field to try and make up for it.
Will McInerny, a 6-foot-7 and 290-pounder out of Bedford, is one of four incoming freshmen linemen from the state on the roster. The others are Jake Kennedy, 6-foot-3 and 285 pounds out of Souhegan Regional High School and Amherst, Rick Holt, 6-foot-3 and 275 pounds from Portsmouth, and Mike Lynch, 6-foot-1 and 235 pounds out of Nashua.
McInerny did not play as a senior in high school because of knee issues and is coming off surgeries and will likely redshirt this season, sitting out games and retaining a year of eligibility, as do most true freshmen.
The UNH Field House and the fields around it are getting to be busy places again with teams reporting for pre-season workouts.
The cross country teams face Providence in Durham on Aug. 31. The women race at 11 a.m. and the men at 11:45 a.m. in their only home meets of the season.
The men’s soccer team plays Bradley University on Aug. 30 and Evansville on Sept. 1 in the Bradley University tournament.
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