College Football: Villanova rolls into Durham for key game
DURHAM — When Villanova last visited Cowell Stadium two years ago, New Hampshire quarterback Kevin Decker threw for 395 yards and three touchdowns and his team rolled up 557 yards of offense en route to a 47-17 rout.
Villanova suffered through a rare rough season that year and finished 2-9.
Andy Talley’s team is back now and brings a No. 12 ranking, 4-2 overall mark, four-game win streak and 3-0 record in the Colonial Athletic Association into today’s noontime clash against UNH at Cowell.
Most impressively, Villanova comes in off a solid 45-35 win at Towson last Saturday. New Hampshire lost at Towson, 44-28, two weeks ago.
“After what we saw of Towson and then how these guys played against Towson, we’re not getting lot of sleep at night,” said UNH coach Sean McDonnell.
McDonnell’s team — it shares its Wildcat nickname with Villanova — is teetering.
UNH is 2-3 overall, 1-1 in the CAA, and can ill afford another loss if it hopes to return to the FCS playoffs for a 10th straight season.
New Hampshire must deal with Villanova sophomore quarterback John Robertson, for starters.He went to his coaches and said he wanted to get back to running the ball more, as he did last year. Against Towson, he completed his first 17 passes and was 17-for-18 for the game for 182 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 150 yards and three scores.
UNH sophomore quarterback Sean Goldrich and his offense will try to keep pace with Robertson and his. Goldrich, who started six games last week, started his first game of the season last week and led UNH to a 50-19 win over Rhode Island.
Andy Vailas, the junior out of Bedford, started the first four games this season but had arthroscopic surgery on his knee and is out.
“We know it’s going to be our biggest challenge yet,” Goldrich said. “There’s nothing to be scared of. We know we do have a talented offense. When we show up Saturday everyone knows we have our backs against the wall.”
McDonnell hopes to have a full group of offensive linemen available.
Sean Ryan, a senior offensive guard from Londonderry, is back from injury and expected to play for the first time this year.
Alexander Morrill, a redshirt freshman lineman from Lebanon, will play as well. He filled in as a starter last week for Tad McNeely, who is also due back.
They will try to protect Goldrich against a big Villanova rush and also open holes for running backs Nico Steriti, Chris Setian and others.
Steriti has carried 70 times for 457 yards, an average of 6.5 yards a carry.
Villanova is 0-3 in its last three games in Durham and last won at Cowell, 48-14, in 2003.
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St. Anselm, 0-6 overall and 0-5 in the Northeast-10, plays its Homecoming game today at 1 p.m. against Merrimack, 3-3. Armond McRae, a sophomore out of Nashua South, averages 7.2 yards a carry on 40 rushes for Merrimack. . . . Dartmouth, 2-2 overall and 1-1 in the Ivy League, plays Bucknell, 1-4, at home at 1:30 today in its final non-league game. Senior tailback Dominick Pierre averages 133.8 yards a game to lead the Ivy League in rushing. . . . Plymouth State, 1-4 overall and 0-3 in the MASCAC, plays Bridgewater State, 3-3 and 2-1, at home at 1 p.m. today.