DURHAM — College football statistics can be misleading, but the stats painted an accurate picture of the University of New Hampshire’s 23-6 triumph over Duquesne on Saturday.
The Wildcats dominated most categories, including total offense (433-233), offensive plays (76-55), first downs (20-10) and time of possession (35:20 to 21:54). Duquesne, a team that competes in the Northeast Conference, limited opponents to an average of 264.3 yards per game through their first three contests and entered the matchup ranked sixth among FCS teams in total defense.
The Wildcats (2-2, 1-0 CAA) held the Dukes to 50 yards rushing on 23 attempts, and Duquesne was 3 of 14 on third down.
“They played their defense, which is well-coached,” Duquesne coach Jerry Schmitt said. “They’re going to make you work for everything and not give you any big plays. So they did that. They did it well.
“We pride ourselves a little bit on some running game. I knew we weren’t going to be able to slug it out with them for four quarters. Can’t do it against a program like this, so you have to execute a little bit on offense and that was not clicking. We just did not execute real well to be able to move the chains and be balanced.”
UNH led 13-0 at halftime courtesy of two Jason Hughes field goals (45 and 39 yards) and a 5-yard touchdown run from running back Dylan Laube. Through two quarters Duquesne (2-2) had one first down, 10 yards of offense and was 0 for 6 on third down.
UNH ran for 231 yards on 45 attempts, an average of 5.1 yards per carry. That included a 72-yard touchdown run by running back Evan Gray that helped UNH take a 23-0 lead in the fourth quarter. Gray gained 99 yards on 10 carries.
“It all starts with the offensive line,” Gray said. “Can’t do anything without them. They’ve been doing a great job.”
Hughes made a career-high three field goals — his third one was a 38-yarder in the third quarter — but he also missed a 33-yard attempt in the first quarter, and had a 27-yard attempt blocked.
UNH quarterback Max Brosmer completed 17 of 31 passes for 202 yards. He was not intercepted.
The Wildcats also recorded four sacks, two by defensive end Brian Carter and one by defensive back Evan Horn. Defensive end Josh Kania and defensive tackle Elijah Lewis combined on a sack.
“We were explosive in two phases of the game,” UNH interim coach Ricky Santos said. “Offense needs to be a little cleaner, but we established the run, which we wanted to do. Defensively I thought we did a tremendous job of being physical up front.”
Duquesne was without running back A.J. Hines (shoulder), who ranked eighth among Division I players (FCS and FBS) in rushing yardage last season. Running back Mark Allen, a Penn State transfer, gained 50 yards on 13 attempts.
The Dukes scored on 12-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Daniel Parr to wide receiver Kareem Coles Jr. with 58 seconds to play.
“I’m not very happy about the way we played,” Schmitt said. “It’s a tough place to come play and a tough program to come play.
“When we’re playing well I think we have a pretty good defense. We played pretty well two weeks ago against Youngstown. I know we got beat 34-14, but they didn’t pound the football on us.”
The Wildcats will wrap up a stretch of three straight home games when they face Elon on Saturday (3:30 p.m.).
“We’re building from Week 1 to Week 2 to last week to now,” Santos said. “I think we’re a completely different team than (the one that) started the season. We have a lot of momentum going back into league play.”