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December 11. 2013 10:24PM

Allen Lessels' UNH Notebook: The book on Bennett

DURHAM

UNIVERSITY of New Hampshire football coach Sean McDonnell got a customized scouting report on Southeastern Louisiana standout junior quarterback Bryan Bennett the other night.

He didn't much like what he heard.

UNH faces the Bennett and his explosive Lions in an FCS tournament quarterfinal match on Saturday at 7 p.m. in Strawberry Stadium in Hammond, La.

Bennett has led Southeastern to its first playoff appearance and an 11-2 record and was the Southland Conference's Player of the Year in his first go-round with the Lions.

He transferred to Southeastern Louisiana after playing the last two seasons as a backup quarterback at Oregon.

Manchester's Chip Kelly, formerly the head coach at Oregon and a UNH assistant and now the Philadelphia Eagles head coach, recruited Bennett to Eugene and coached him there for three years, including the season he sat out as a redshirt.

"I called Chip on Sunday night and said, 'What do you know about this guy?'" McDonnell said. "He said, 'I'd like to give you some good news, but I can't. I'm going to give you some bad news. He's a really good football player.' I said, 'How fast?' We mentioned a couple of guys who were in the program when he was here and I said, 'That fast?' He said, 'Yeah.' "

Bennett played in eight games as a redshirt freshman at Oregon and threw six touchdown passes and in 10 games last season as a sophomore and passed for three and rushed for three.

He played first behind Deron Thomas and then Marcus Mariota.

"He played against 50,000-something people at Oregon so stuff isn't going to bother him," McDonnell said. "He's played against great competition. He left Oregon for one simple reason. He wanted to play and the guy that was at quarterback ahead of him was pretty good."
Now the Wildcats must deal with Bennett and the Lions.

They started the season 1-2 and have won 10 straight games. They beat Southland Conference league-mate Sam Houston State twice at home in their last three games, including 30-29 last week to advance to the quarterfinals.

Bennett completed all six of his passes in an 85-yard drive that started with 1:21 to play and finished with 36 seconds left to seal last week's win.

Sam Houston State was ranked No. 4 in the country when the teams met for the first time this year on Nov. 16 — Southeastern won that one, 34-21 — and lost in the national championship game each of the last two years to North Dakota State.

Bennett, who is 6-foot-3 and 205 pounds, was highly recruited out of Granada Hills, Calif., and Crespi High School.

He's dangerous as a runner and a thrower in a similar fashion and schemes to what Villanova ran with sophomore quarterback John Robertson, McDonnell said.

Bennett was Southeastern's leading rusher with 173 carries for 1,017 yards (5.9 per carry) and scored a team-best 15 touchdowns. He completed 190 of his 308 passes (61.7 percent) for 2,896 and 20 touchdowns. He was intercepted 10 times.

Robertson had a huge rushing day against UNH on Oct. 19 with 256 yards and three touchdowns on 27 carries.

But New Hampshire won the game, 29-28, on a last-minute drive capped by a 4-yard touchdown run by sophomore quarterback Sean Goldrich and a two-point conversion run by Chris Setian.

.

The NCAA Northeastern Regional men's hockey tournament is coming back to Manchester and the Verizon Wireless Arena. UNH will also again host the NCAA Skiing Championships and the NCAA Women's Frozen Four.

The NCAA on Wednesday announced the sites for more than 500 of its championship events over the next several years.

UNH will host the Northeast Regional at the Verizon for the sixth time n 2015. The men's Regional sites were not awarded beyond 2016.

The Women's Frozen Four will be held at the Whittemore Center in 2016.

UNH was also the host in 2002 and 2005.

UNH will be the host of the 2017 NCAA Skiing Championships. The school has been host to the NCAAs five times, most recently in 2007.

"I think it's a great tribute to the hard work of our staff and coaches here at UNH and certainly to the management at the Verizon Wireless Arena," said UNH director of athletics Marty Scarano. "We've

hosted these championships before and I am absolutely confident that we will continue to do a great job hosting these coveted events again."

The NCAA also announced that Hockey East will host the 2015 Men's Frozen Four at the TD Garden in Boston.



alessels@unionleader.com On Twitter: @AllenLessels


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