Old teammates battle: For Wildcats’ Quinlen Dean, Saturday’s contest against Albany is special.
DURHAM — Quinlen Dean is looking forward to seeing — and tackling — his friend and former high school teammate Karl Mofor on Saturday.
Dean and the University of New Hampshire football team will host Mofor and the University at Albany in a CAA bout Saturday at 1 p.m. at Wildcat Stadium.
The Wildcats enter their final home game with a 3-6 overall record and 2-4 mark in conference play. Albany, which has lost five straight games, is 2-7 overall and 0-6 against CAA competition.
Dean, a junior linebacker, and Mofor, a sophomore running back, played together at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in their hometown of Greenbelt, Md.
During Dean’s senior season at Roosevelt High, the Raiders went 11-1 and reached the Maryland 4A region championship game. Dean logged 22 ½ sacks and 57 total tackles, three forced fumbles, a fumble recovery and a touchdown that year.
Mofor rushed for more than 4,000 yards and 56 touchdowns over his Roosevelt High career. As a senior captain for the Raiders, Mofor ran for nearly 2,000 yards and 23 touchdowns.
“I think he played on varsity his freshman year while I was a senior so he’s been dynamic since a young age,” Dean said of Mofor. “He’s very explosive. He’s gained a little bit of weight so I’m trying to see if he’s still fast or not….I was definitely faster than him in high school and I’m still faster than him. I look forward to playing against him.
“That’s my friend but when we step on the field, everybody’s an enemy.”
Dean and Mofor have exchanged some friendly trash talk this week leading up to their on-field reunion.
“Us Maryland boys are very confident,” Dean said. “He feels his team is good or whatever but I know my boys, we’re ready to roll. We’re ready to play this weekend.”
Mofor and redshirt junior Elijah Ibitokun-Hanks are the Great Danes’ primary ball-carriers. Ibitokun-Hanks ranks third in the CAA in rushing with 692 yards and four touchdowns on 137 carries. Mofor is 10th in the conference, rushing for 444 yards and four TDs on 77 carries.
UNH ranks seventh in the 12-team CAA in rushing defense, allowing 141.8 yards per game.
In their first collegiate meeting, Dean recorded a career-high 15 tackles and Mofor ran five times for six yards in a 15-0 Albany triumph over the Wildcats last season. Ibitokun-Hanks, who missed all but one game last year due to injury, ran for 298 yards and three touchdowns on 39 carries the last time he played UNH — a 36-25 Great Danes win on Nov. 12, 2016.
“They have owned us for the last two years in a lot of different ways,” UNH coach Sean McDonnell said of the Great Danes. “They are a very physical team running the football when they’re doing it well.”
Like Dean, UNH sophomore safety Nelson Thomas is familiar with one of Albany’s rushers. Thomas played at Kent (Conn.) School while Ibitokun-Hanks was at Avon (Conn.) Old Farms.
“I understand he’s got some game and we’re definitely formulating a game plan to go against him and the other pieces there as well at UAlbany,” Thomas said.
In victories over Villanova and then-No. 3 James Madison the past two weeks, UNH allowed a combined 77 yards rushing.
Ibitokun-Hanks and Mofor have been held to a combined 132 yards or fewer in each of Albany’s last four games. Individually, each has rushed for 78 yards or fewer over that stretch.
“We’ll be ready for both of them,” Dean said.