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NH College Football: Ex-Wildcats QB returns as Ivy coach

New Hampshire Union Leader

October 19. 2017 12:51AM

Ricky Santos, who guided the University of New Hampshire to a 37-14 record and four consecutive FCS playoff appearances as UNH's starting quarterback from 2004 to 2007, is in his second season as Columbia's quarterbacks coach. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER FILE)

Ricky Santos is returning to New Hampshire this weekend, and a pretty good football team will be coming with him.

Santos, who guided the University of New Hampshire to a 37-14 record and four consecutive FCS playoff appearances as UNH’s starting quarterback from 2004 to 2007, is in his second season as Columbia’s quarterbacks coach. Columbia (5-0, 2-0 Ivy League) will play at Dartmouth (5-0, 2-0) on Saturday in a meeting between the only undefeated teams in the Ivy League. The opening kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.

“We never talked about it (going into coaching) but believe me, he was dialed in to what was going on (when he was a player),” UNH coach Sean McDonnell said. “He was knowledgeable, and he was a great teammate. It was never about Ricky. Always about the team and all that. He was a very humble person in that way, and I truly believe that leads to being a great coach.

“I knew once he started talking to me about doing something like that that he was going to be really good at it, and he hasn’t proven me wrong yet.”

Santos was on the UNH coaching staff for two seasons (2013 to 2015) as a restricted-earnings coach before accepting a job on the Columbia staff. He won the Walter Payton Award as the FCS Player of the Year in 2006, and finished his college career ranked third in FCS history in both passing yards (13,212) and touchdown passes (123).

“I remember he came in here (McDonnell’s office) to leave to go to Columbia,” McDonnell said. “He was torn about what he wanted to do. I said, ‘You gotta go take this job. It’s a full-time coaching job, and forget about the money it’s an opportunity to coach your own position full time.’”

Santos has spent much of this season tutoring senior quarterback Anders Hill, who tossed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Josh Wainwright in overtime to help Columbia beat Penn 34-31 last weekend. Hill completed 21 of 33 passes for 258 yards and three TDs in that victory.

Hill has completed 103 of 162 passes for 13 touchdowns and five interceptions this year. Wainwright, who had 10 receptions for 193 yards against Penn, is the Ivy League’s leading receiver with 35 catches for 538 yards and six TDs.

Late-game heroics have become commonplace for Dartmouth, which overcame a 12-point deficit in the third quarter to defeat Sacred Heart 29-26 Saturday. Earlier this season Dartmouth rallied from a 21-point deficit to beat Yale, 28-27, on a 15-yard TD pass with 34 seconds to play; scored as time expired to defeat Penn 16-13; and hung on for a 27-26 overtime victory against Holy Cross. Dartmouth stopped a two-point conversion attempt in overtime that, if successful, would have handed Holy Cross the victory.

Dartmouth’s last four wins have come by a total of eight points.

Columbia enters this game ranked fourth among Ivy League teams in offense (31.0) and fifth in defense (20.0). Dartmouth is sixth in offense (27.6 points per game) and fourth in defense (19.8).

Columbia began the year with three winning seasons in the last 54 years, one Ivy League title (1961) and had finished last in the league standings in three of the last four seasons.

“We can’t control what happened in the rearview mirror,” Columbia coach Al Bagnoli said. “I tell people I get nervous every time people bring up numbers here. This is today, it’s now. It’s a different work ethic, a different culture. Everything is different.”

Plymouth State (6-1, 4-1) at Mass. Maritime (1-5, 0-4)

Plymouth State stretched its winning streak to four games and moved into first place in the MASCAC with Saturday’s 16-13 victory over Framingham State. The challenge Saturday (1 p.m.) will be stopping Mass. Maritime running back Richie Phillips, who has gained 406 yards in his last two games, including a 212-yard rushing performance in last weekend’s 28-21 loss to Western Connecticut. Phillips is second among MASCAC players in rushing with 733 yards and eight touchdowns (six rushing).

Junior Mitch Banuskevich, a Milford resident, leads Plymouth State in rushing with 428 yards and two touchdowns, and junior quarterback Zack Edwards has completed 86 of 169 pass attempts for 1,128 yards and 15 TDs. Concord’s Jacob Szulc, a sophomore, has 25 receptions for 502 yards and a league-best 11 receiving TDs.

Zach Ziemba, a Manchester West graduate, leads the Plymouth State defense with 43 tackles, including 24 solo stops.

The Panthers lead the MASCAC in points allowed (11.0), but are ninth (last) in total offense (281.1 yards per game).

St. Anselm (0-6, 0-5 NE-10) at Pace (3-3, 3-2)

St. Anselm will be seeking its first victory Saturday (1 p.m.), and will likely have to produce more offense to do it. The Hawks have scored 52 points in their six losses, a league-low 8.7 points per game.

St. Anselm hasn’t scored more than 14 points in any of its six games, but will be up against a Pace defense that’s allowing an average of 30.2 points per contest. The St. Anselm defense has allowed 35.3 points per game.

St. Anselm quarterback Eric Fairweather, a Londonderry resident, has completed 57 of 130 pass attempts for 421 yards and three touchdowns (seven interceptions). He’s also the team’s leading rusher with 328 yards and three TDs on 86 carries.

Pace has two New Hampshire residents on its roster: senior defensive back Zach Downey (Sandown/Timberlane) and sophomore defensive lineman Bryson Pacocha (Chester/Pinkerton).