210307-spt-coyne

UNH’s Sean Coyne grabs his second touchdown pass of the night, in the fourth quarter of the March 5 game against Albany. The Wildcats fell, 24-20, in what proved to be their only spring game.

The University of New Hampshire football team played the first game of its spring season on March 5, when it came up short against Albany, 24-20. That was also the last game of UNH’s spring season.

One day after UNH coach Sean McDonnell said the program would not opt out of the remainder of the team’s schedule, UNH reversed course and did just that. The school announced Tuesday that it was pulling the curtain on the spring season and would not play its two remaining games because of COVID-19 issues in the program. The Wildcats were scheduled to face Stony Brook at home Saturday, and then conclude the regular season with a game at Maine on April 17.

“I am so proud of our guys for working their tails off to be prepared to play football this spring and to compete the way they did when we faced Albany on March 5,” McDonnell said. “We followed the safety protocols to the best of our abilities, dealt with the starts and stops that come with COVID, and never wavered in our commitment to play football.

“But like so many other programs around the country, the virus took its toll on us. I am constantly reminded that the virus controls us, we don’t control it. While I am very disappointed for the team, their families, and our staff, I know in my heart that sometimes the right decision is the hardest decision.”

UNH had a bye the week after it played Albany, and then had games against Delaware (March 20), Villanova (March 27) and Rhode Island (April 3) postponed (now canceled). Earlier this year, Albany opted out of its spring season after four games, citing a large number of injuries.

“Despite the incredible efforts of (McDonnell), the entire football staff, athletic training and, most of all, our student-athletes, we are left with no other choice but to forego the remainder of the spring season,” UNH athletic director Marty Scarano said. “This is not the outcome we hoped for, but unfortunately, we could not get on the right side of the COVID numbers, and we will never forsake the health of our students. This is incredibly heartbreaking, but I am so proud of how hard everyone fought to give themselves a chance to get back on the field. This should be a reminder that this pandemic is still very much a part of our lives.”

UNH is scheduled to begin its fall season Sept. 4 at Stony Brook, and then play its first home game the following Saturday against Towson.

“We will now concentrate on getting clear of the virus, getting stronger, getting better, and the ’Cats will be ready to go full-bore this fall,” McDonnell said.