UNH's Nico Steriti outruns the Colgate defense on his way to a second quarter touchdown. (JAY REITER/Union Leader)
DURHAM - The University of New Hampshire announced on Friday afternoon that lights will be installed at Cowell Stadium in time for next season.
On Saturday afternoon, the No. 9-ranked Wildcat football team lit up Colgate University on the way to 53-23 triumph in front of 8,020 at Cowell.
The Wildcats scored early and often with a diversified offense and attacked the Raiders defensively as well.
Junior tight end Harold Spears had nabbed a pair of touchdown passes and a two-point conversion pass before the game was seven minutes old, staking UNH to a 16-0 lead.
"That's always big in our offense," Spears said. "Coach always talks about fast start. It doesn't really matter who scores or how we score as long as we jump up on them early and get points on the board. That's really all we're focused on."
Spears, in fact, got a little quick payback and the Wildcats didn't take long to get things rolling again, either.
They had lost their last three games overall. They also had a 10-game home win streak snapped in a 64-35 rout at the hands of Towson the last time they played in Cowell Stadium on Nov. 17.
Spears had a rough week last week in a 27-24 season-opening loss at Central Michigan when he committed a couple of penalties in key situations and dropped an important pass.
"Personally, I just wanted to bounce back and just play smarter and show I can do some of the things I did today," Spears said. "But as a team we wanted to bounce back, too. As a whole team, we were disappointed by last week's performance."
Bounce back they did.
The Wildcats evened their record at 1-1 and now have to wait two weeks for Game 3. They are off next Saturday and play at Lehigh, a Patriot League team like Colgate, on Sept. 28.
Colgate dropped to 0-3.
UNH piled up 551 yards of offense and held Colgate - which was missing its standout senior quarterback Gavin McCarney because of injury - to 278 yards. The numbers were even more lopsided in the first half at 336 total yards to 104.
The Wildcats owned the first half and despite a few costly penalties - rest assured, they will be among the teaching moments for coach Sean McDonnell and his staff over the next couple of weeks - were up 40-6 at the break.
"I thought defensively we did a real good job keeping the ball inside and in front of us for the most part and we had a couple of good stops on third down and fourth down," McDonnell said.
Junior linebacker Shane McNeely led the way with eight tackles and had one of UNH's two interceptions. Sophomore defensive back Hayden Knudson had the other.
McDonnell made note of the play of McNeely and sophomore Akil Anderson, also a linebacker, along with that of interior defensive lineman senior Sean McCann, junior Matt Kaplan of Franklin and sophomores Jullian Turner and Rashid Armand.
Offensively, McDonnell liked the way quarterbacks Andy Vailas, the starter and a junior out of Bedford, and sophomore Sean Goldrich spread the ball around.
UNH went up 19-0 on 22-yard field goal by Mike MacArthur, a senior from North Hampton, with 5:19 left in the first period. The Wildcat defense forced another punt, but returner Casey DeAndrade dropped the ball and the Raiders recovered on the UNH 43. Five plays later Colgate scored and it was 19-6 with 53 seconds to go in the quarter.
The Wildcats answered quickly. Jared Allison returned the kick 39 yards and Sean Goldrich, on his first play of the game, hit junior wide receiver R.J. Harris with a pass in the right flat. Harris took off and avoided some tackles and broke others for a 50-yard score.
Junior Nico Steriti scored on runs of 5 and 56 yards in the second quarter and the rout was on.
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Mike Kelly, a sophomore out of Merrimack and Bishop Guertin High School in Nashua, scored his first career touchdown for UNH on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Plymouth 37, Mt. Ida 26
Senior running back Andrew Foglia scored four touchdowns - three on the ground and one with a catch - to lead the Panthers (1-1) in Newton Mass.
Foglia carried 26 times for 199 yards to lead the run-oriented Plymouth State attack. Foglia scored on runs of 34, 6 and 15 yards and caught a 21-yard scoring pass from senior Jake Tyler.
The Panthers rushed for 271 yards and passed for 28.
Jake Mathews, a senior defensive back out of Windham, and Mike Leonard, a sophomore linebacker out of Merrimack who played at Trinity High School in Manchester, led the PSU defense with 11 tackles each. Leonard also contributed an interception.
Stonehill 52, St. Anselm 24
Stonehill (1-1) claimed the eighth annual "Battle for the Ol' Bronze Hawk" thanks to quarterback Logan Meyer's five touchdown passes and 332 passing yards. Former Manchester Central player Steve Gryzywacz kicked seven PATs and added a 22-yard field goal. Jamal Johnson rushed for 170 yards.
Visiting St. Anselm (1-1) got rushing touchdowns from Keith Charles (18 carries, 95 yards) and Andrew Murphy (nine carries, 11 yards) and Charles added a receiving TD.