Wildcat gridders visit Maine in defining game for program
University of New Hampshire's Tre Williams(11) and teammate Manny Asam, left, sack Lafayette quarterback Drew Reed in the second half of their playoff game hosted in Durham Saturday. (Mark Bolton/Union Leader)
"We want to win two playoff games, which no one in the program has done before," said Seamus O'Neill, a senior left tackle and co-captain out of Manchester Central. "We're not trying to focus on the survival factor, but it's in the back of our minds, especially the seniors, knowing this could be our last game. We don't want it to end right now. We want to set a standard for what UNH football is all about by wining those two playoff games."
The common theme is survival. The winner of this game plays the winner of tonight's contest between Sam Houston State and Southeastern Louisiana next week in the quarterfinals.
Maine's loss in the stretch was to UNH just two Saturday ago. The Wildcats beat the Black Bears, 24-3, in Durham to secure a spot in the tournament.
"I think they're definitely going to be coming for revenge," O'Neill said. "They're going to be looking at it like, 'We're a better team than that.'"
The Wildcat defense sacked Wasilewski five times in that game, forced him to fumble the ball away once and also picked off one of his passes. Before UNH, he had not thrown an interception in six games and Maine had not lost a fumble in four.
On the other side of the ball, Andy Vailas, a junior quarterback out of Bedford and Bishop Guertin of Nashua, connected with tight end Jordan Powell for a short touchdown pass in the first quarter against Maine, and sophomore Sean Goldrich had one to Jimmy Giansante in the third period.
Goldrich led UNH to a 45-7 first-round win over Lafayette on Saturday in Durham and Vailas stayed on the sidelines.
The Wildcats had 213 yards rushing and 118 passing two weeks ago against Maine in windy conditions.
Junior running back Nico Steriti carried 18 times for 139 yards against Maine for his third 100-yard game of the season. His 68-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter helped ice the game.
"You've just got to keep hacking and keep hacking and keep hacking because that one time something opens up and then you have to take advantage of it and go."
Mike MacArthur, a senior from North Hampton, kicked one field goal against Maine and had another blocked. He has made 13 of his 16 field goals for the season.