Wildcats defeat Maine to advance
They got their two.
They'll look for more, starting in the quarterfinal round of the FCS tournament next weekend.
The University of New Hampshire football team has set a lofty standard of success over the last decade. The Wildcats have played in the NCAA tournament each of the past 10 years, an accomplishment unmatched by any team in the land. But they had never won two playoff games in the same season.
UNH beat Lafayette last week at home in its first round game and went into a chilly Alfond Stadium and knocked off Colonial Athletic Association champion Maine, 41-27, on Saturday afternoon in a second-round matchup and rematch of league rivals.
UNH stopped Maine, 24-3, two weeks ago at Cowell Stadium in Durham to earn itself a spot in the tournament.
They will take their mounting momentum and growing confidence and move on to a quarterfinal match Saturday at Southeastern Louisiana.
Hosting its first-ever NCAA playoff game Saturday (11-2), SLU, the Southland Conference champion scored a touchdown in the final minute to knock off league rival and two-time defending national runner-up Sam Houston State, 30-29.
The Wildcats were not as dominant defensively as they were two weeks ago against Maine, but again they gave the Black Bears little room to work and again they came up with a couple of turnovers and more impressively got off the field on third down.
On Saturday, they had two more picks, by Steven Thames and Casey DeAndrade.
On the flip side, led by sophomore quarterback Sean Goldrich, UNH was successful on half (7-for-14) of its third-down plays, which was a little better than two weeks ago.
Mello scored on a 57-yard pass play in the first quarter and on a 3-yarder early in the third to get UNH's lead to 27-17. Maine got it back to 27-20, but Setian scored twice to put it out of reach.
He grabbed an onsides kick on the front line after Maine had scored the final touchdown with 21 seconds left.
Mello's call, McDonnell said.
"He made the decision," the coach said. "Smart kid. Class kid. I'm really proud of him for doing it. There's no need to score there. No need. Put your knee down and let's go get the next one."
UNH is back in the NCAA quarterfinals for the first time since 2010.
The Wildcats have never won an FCS quarterfinal game.
They have a goal for next week.