DURHAM - Sophomore quarterback Sean Goldrich, redshirt freshman Dalton Crossan and junior wide receiver R.J. Harris led a balanced offense and senior defensive end Jay Colbert led the way defensively as New Hampshire knocked off Lafayette, 45-7, in an FCS tournament first-round game in front of 3,286 in Cowell Stadium on Saturday.
The Wildcats opened their 10th straight appearance in the NCAA playoffs with their first tournament win since 2010. They took full advantage of playing their first playoff game at home since 2005.
UNH won its fourth straight game and moves on to a rematch against Maine next Saturday in Orono at 2 p.m. for a second-round game.
The Wildcats, who are now 8-4, beat Maine, 24-3, last Saturday.
Colbert had three of UNH's 10 sacks on Saturday. Goldrich completed 15 of 30 passes for 267 yards and couple of touchdowns. Crossan scored on a 17-yard pass reception and later on a 56-yard run, and Harris caught eight passes for 173 yards and one TD.
"We certainly got outmanned at some spots," Lafayette coach Frank Tavani said. "That doesn't have anything to do with schemes, just getting run over by individuals. It was definitely a breakdown in all three areas and when that happens, you get beat, you get handled and you get your butt kicked and there isn't much you can say."
The Wildcats jumped on Lafayette early, collected seven of their sacks in the first half and led 31-0 at the break.
Nico Steriti's 1-yard run capped UNH's first possession 2:32 into the game.
Senior defensive end Sean McCann had one of the early sacks and forced a Drew Reed fumble that was recovered by junior Shane McNeely when it was still 7-0.
Goldrich connected with Harris for a 22-yard TD on the next play. The quarterback found Crossan to finish UNH's next possession and it was 21-0 with 12 seconds left in the first period.
Nick Cefalo quickly pushed the lead to 28-0 with an 86-yard punt return down the right sideline 3:08 into the second period.
Mike MacArthur, who had already kicked four conversions, closed the first half scoring with a 23-yard field goal in the closing seconds. It was the 49th career field goal for the senior out of North Hampton and Winnacunnet High School of Hampton.
Senior Chris Setian scored on a 28-yard run late in the third period and Crossan on the 56-yarder in the fourth to raise the lead to 45-0.
Lafayette backup Blake Searfoss passed to Mike Duncan for a 6-yard score with 4:50 left in the game to end the scoring.
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UNH balanced its 551 yards of offense with 283 yards rushing and 268 passing. The Wildcats held Lafayette to 73 yards rushing and 333 total yards.. . . . UNH had first-round byes each of the last two years and then lost its second-round game. The Wildcats fell at Montana State, 26-25, in 2011 and 23-7 at Wofford in 2012.