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College Football: Wildcats running out of options

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 19. 2017 12:51AM

DURHAM — Things aren’t all that good with regard to the University of New Hampshire’s running game these days.

The Wildcats were held to 10 yards rushing on 28 carries in Saturday night’s 38-24 loss to Stony Brook. Now here’s the bad news: UNH might be thin at running back when it faces Towson in Durham on Saturday (2 p.m.). Evan Gray, the team’s leading rusher, has a thigh bruise, and Donald Goodrich and Jerickson Fedrick are both in concussion protocol.

“I think we have to run the ball better, and I think we have to stay on track,” UNH coach Sean McDonnell said. “And by staying on track I’m mean getting good yardage on first and second down so your third down is manageable.”

McDonnell said his team’s running game was “non-existent” in the second half against Stony Brook.

“In the first half we were moving the ball efficiently,” he said. “We ran for 54 yards in the first quarter and then from that point on it was sacks (UNH was sacked six times for a loss of 54 yards). We didn’t get a push at the line of scrimmage like we were getting in the first half. Didn’t have the success that we need to have with the run game for us to be a very potent offense.”

UNH (4-2, 2-1 CAA) ranks ninth among CAA teams in rushing offense with 673 yards on 210 carries. The Wildcats are averaging 112.2 yards rushing per game, and 3.2 yards per attempt.

Towson (2-4, 0-3 CAA) is ninth in the CAA in rush defense, but last (12th) in rushing offense (92.2 yards per game) and scoring offense (12.0). The Tigers are also tied with Rhode Island for last in the league in turnover margin at minus-6.

Towson may regain the services of Shane Simpson on Saturday. Simpson, the team’s top running back, has missed most of the season with an undisclosed injury.

“Simpson’s a difference-maker in the program,” McDonnell said. “He’s a really good football player, an all-conference kid last year and a great returner. He brings spark to the offense.”

UNH will likely be without safety Pop Lacey, who McDonnell said suffered a bone bruise and may have fractured a bone in his leg against Stony Brook.

“We have got to get back on top and get a win this weekend, especially since we’re at home,” McDonnell said. “Never like to lose two in a row and this one’s a huge challenge in that way.”