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NH College Football: Eight (wins) should be enough for UNH

By ROGER BROWN
New Hampshire Union Leader

November 16. 2017 3:04AM

UNH quarterback Trevor Knight evades an Elon defender during the Wildcats' 16-6 win Saturday at Wildcat Stadium. With a win Saturday at Albany, the Wildcats will have a strong case at a spot in the 24-team FCS tournament field, to be announced Sunday. (BRUCE TAYLOR/UNION LEADER)



University of New Hampshire head coach Sean McDonnell said he likes his team’s body of work this season, but whether or not his Wildcats have done enough to qualify for the 24-team FCS tournament is a question he can’t answer.

“A lot smarter people than me will have to figure that out,” McDonnell said. “What we’ve done is pretty good. What we’ve done in our league is pretty good. We beat a I-A team. That’s a pretty good accomplishment, I think. I think the most important thing for us to do is go get the next one and let everything sort itself out.”

A victory over Albany on Saturday (1 p.m.) would certainly help UNH’s cause. That would give UNH (7-3, 5-2 CAA) an eighth victory and the possibility of a home playoff game.

The Great Danes (3-7, 1-6) have lost their last six games, but four of those losses came by seven points or less, including two in overtime. Albany running back Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks carried the ball 39 times and ran for a school-record 298 yards when the Great Danes beat the Wildcats 36-25 in Durham last season. Ibitokun-Hanks has missed most of this season with a knee injury and won’t play Saturday.

“This year there are a lot of teams that have seven wins,” UNH defensive tackle Rick Holt said. “It’ll look a lot better if we can get the eighth win as opposed to ending our season with a loss, because there a lot of teams in a lot of other conferences with similar or better records than us. If we get to eight wins that looks pretty good, so it’s a really big game for us this week.”

Albany’s biggest problems have stemmed from a lack of offense. The Great Danes rank 101st out of 123 FCS teams in scoring (17.6), 109th in total offense (274.3 yards per game), 110th in rushing offense (87.5) and 114th in sacks allowed (3.6 per game).

UNH will be without junior defensive end Kyle Reisert, a Plymouth Regional graduate who suffered a knee injury during last Saturday’s game against Elon. McDonnell said Reisert will miss the rest of the season.

UNH quarterback Trevor Knight has tossed 23 touchdown passes this season, which is the most by a Wildcat QB since R.J. Toman finished the 2008 season with 28. Knight has been intercepted six times.

UNH has outscored its opponents 81-22 in the first quarter this year, and 177-86 in the first half.

“One of the things we talk about is fast starts,” McDonnell said. “The biggest thing has been our offense getting out and getting going. Our offense has executed very well in that quarter.”

The field for this year’s FCS tournament will be announced Sunday.

“We’re going up there with a great opportunity on our plate,” McDonnell said.

SATURDAY

Princeton at Dartmouth (1:30 p.m.)

Dartmouth (7-2, 4-2) enters the regular season’s final weekend still in the hunt for a share of the Ivy League championship.

Dartmouth is tied for second place with Columbia (7-2, 4-2), one game behind Yale (8-1, 5-1). A Dartmouth victory over Princeton, plus a Harvard win against Yale would earn the Big Green a share of the league championship. Columbia, which plays Brown on Saturday, can also earn a share of the title with a victory plus a Harvard victory over Yale. Dartmouth handed Yale its only loss this season.

Dartmouth has won two in a row since suffering back-to-back losses against Columbia (22-17) and Harvard (25-22). The Big Green will be facing a Princeton team that has scored at least 24 points in each of its nine games, and has scored at least 50 points three times.

Princeton quarterback Chad Kanoff passed for 454 yards and four touchdowns in a 35-31 loss to Yale on Saturday. He has thrown 26 TD passes this season, which is the program’s single-season record.

Dartmouth last earned a piece of the Ivy League championship in 2015, when it shared the title with Harvard and Penn. All three teams finished 6-1 in the league. Dartmouth hasn’t won the Ivy League title outright since 1996, when it finished 10-0 overall and 7-0 in the league.

rbrown@unionleader.com


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