Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: : Out of the frying pan, into the fire
TROUBLE ahead. Trouble behind.
The University of New Hampshire football team dropped to 1-2 for the season with Saturday’s 34-27 loss at still-undefeated Lehigh and next up they must go on the road and face another unbeaten, and much higher-ranked, team.
The Wildcats, who were unable to increase or hold a 27-13 third-period lead against Lehigh, are at Towson on Saturday in their Colonial Athletic Association opener.
“We have to have a real short memory now,” said UNH coach Sean McDonnell. “We’re going in to play probably the best team we’ll play all season.”
The Tigers upped their record to 5-0 with a come-from-behind win at Stony Brook, 35-21, on Saturday night.
Towson was ranked No. 2 in one national poll and No. 3 in the other last week. UNH was No. 10 and No. 7 last week and Lehigh checked in at Nos. 21 and 17.
The Tigers, led by a wrecking ball of a runner in Terrance West, have owned UNH the last two seasons.
Last year, Towson led 30-28 at the half and broke things open with 27 straight points on the way to a demoralizing 64-35 UNH loss.
McDonnell and his coaches were studying Towson tape on Sunday.
“They were the best team in the league at the end of last season,” McDonnell said. “They’re physical on both sides of the ball. They have a great player in Terrance West. They’ve found a good quarterback in Peter Athens. The other thing that really jumps out is their defense.
They’re very, very good.”
The Tigers are giving up a CAA-best of just 271 yards of offense a game and a second-best 14 points.
West carried the ball 19 times for 236 yards and a couple of touchdowns against UNH last season.
That was an off day for him compared to the year before when he went for 261 yards and four touchdowns on 23 carries in Towson’s 56-42 win, its first in eight games against UNH.
West is still only a junior and is 5-foot-11 and 223 pounds.
He carried 26 times for 150 yards and a score against Stony Brook and is averaging 129 yards a game and has scored 12 TDs this season.
Both teams will be fired up for this one.
UNH, looking to get back on track for a 10th straight FCS tournament appearance, needs a quick turnaround and wants to avenge last year’s defeat.
The Tigers left Durham on Nov. 17 last season confident they had done enough during the season and in the game in particular to land a spot in the playoffs.
The next day they heard otherwise on the NCAA Selection Show. They were 7-4 and staying home. UNH, at 8-3, was picked as an at-large team.
The Wildcats rallied after a rough start last season. They dropped to 2-2 with a 64-61 loss at Old Dominion on Sept. 29 and ripped off six straight wins, starting with Delaware, to secure that playoff spot.
Only once in this nation’s-best run of nine straight tournament berths has UNH started a season 1-2. That was 2010 and it was also the only year in the stretch that the Wildcats lost their third game of the season before November.
In 2010, the Wildcats won their opener over Central Connecticut State and lost at Pittsburgh and Rhode Island. They beat Lehigh but then lost 16-13 in overtime at Maine to fall to 2-3.
They responded with wins in five of their last six regular season games and got into the tournament with a 7-4 record.
Then, like now, a short memory was needed.
THE men’s hockey team hits the Whittemore Center ice for an exhibition game against Acadia University on Saturday night at 7.
The Wildcats open the regular season the next week in the Ice Breaker at Minnesota. They play Clarkson on Oct. 11 and the next night play either Minnesota or Mercyhurst the next night.
Michigan comes to Durham to play UNH in a two-game set on Oct. 18 and 19.
THE women’s hockey team split a pair of games at St. Lawrence over the weekend and plays its home opener on Friday night against RIT.
Syracuse plays at UNH on Saturday at 2.
THE volleyball team, 7-10 overall and 1-0 in America East, plays at Stony Brook on Friday.
THE cross country teams both collected seventh-place finishes in tough fields at the Boston College Invitational on Friday.
Providence won the 14-team women’s race and was followed by Oregon, Cornell, BC, Wisconsin, Stony Brook and UNH.
Oregon won the 13-team men’s race in front of Syracuse, Providence, Wisconsin, Northeastern, Cornell and UNH.
The Wildcats are at the Paul Short Invitational at Lehigh University on Saturday.
THE men’s basketball team will play a Blue-White scrimmage in Lundholm Gymnasium on Oct. 12, following the Homecoming football game against Rhode Island. The Wildcats open the season at home against Div. III Suffolk on Nov. 9 at 7:30 p.m. and play at Duquesne on Nov. 13.
Bill Herrion’s team lost its second player in three weeks to a knee injury when Logan Mortenson, a 6-foot-7 sophomore forward, went down last week.
Matt Miller, a touted junior sharpshooter who sat out last year as a transfer from Div. II Seton Hill University, also suffered a knee injury during dills.
Both players are out for the season.
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