UNH's Justin Mello checks a defender on his way to a touchdown during first half action on Saturday at the University of Maine in Orono. UNH defeated Maine 41 to 27. With the win UNH Maine moves on the quarterfinal round next weekend in the NCAA FCS tournament. .(Gil Talbot Photo)
ORONO, Maine - Sophomore Sean Goldrich completed 16 of his 27 passes for 291 yards and three touchdowns and the University of New Hampshire defense bottled up Maine for the second time in three weeks on Saturday to lead the Wildcats to a 41-27 win at Alfond Stadium.
UNH quarterback Sean Goldrich looks for a receiver downfield during first half action on Saturday at the University of Maine in Orono. Goldrich threw for three touchdowns as UNH defeated Maine 41 to 27. With the win UNH Maine moves on the quarterfinal round next weekend in the NCAA FCS tournament. .(Gil Talbot Photo)
Maine closes out the season at 10-3.
New Hampshire advances to the FCS quarterfinal round for the first time since 2010.
The Wildcats will play seventh-ranked and fourth-seeded Southeastern Louisiana University Saturday at 7 p.m. in Hammond, La.
Hosting its first-ever NCAA playoff game Saturday, Southland Conference champion Southeastern Louisiana (11-2) scored a touchdown in the final minute to knock off league rival and two-time defending national runner-up Sam Houston State, 30-29.
UNH, which lost three of its first four games this season, has now won five straight games and eight of its last nine. The Wildcats have won four straight games and 11 of their last 12 against Maine.
Senior Justin Mello had five catches for 90 yards and two UNH scores. Senior Chris Setian carried 10 times for 54 yards and two touchdowns.
Mike MacArthur, the senior kicker from North Hampton, booted a pair of field goals, from 43 and 22 yards.
The Wildcats moved in front 27-17 on their first possession of the second half.
On a third and 2 from the Maine 27 with the line of scrimmage jammed, running back Nico Steriti took a direct snap and lobbed a pass to Harold Spears to the Maine 3.
"I saw a little pressure and just wanted to get it in the air," Steriti said. "I'll work on that this week."
Two plays later Goldrich connected with Mello in the back left corner of the end zone for a 3-yard TD.
A Sean Decloux 28-yard field goal cut it to 27-20 halfway through the third period.
The Wildcats put together a huge 87-yard drive in the fourth quarter to go up 34-20 with 6:47 left in the fourth.
A Goldrich to R.J. Harris 16-yard pass on third and 14 from the Maine 9-yard line ignited the drive. Setian ended it with a 12-yard scoring run.
Setian ended UNH's next possession with a 7-yard score to make it 41-20 with 2:42 to play.
Goldrich had a couple of touchdown passes and MacArthur a couple of field goals to stake UNH to a 20-17 lead at halftime.
MacArthur opened the scoring with the 43-yard field goal with 6:40 left in the first period.
Damarr Aultman responded in short order, crossing the field to the right sideline on the ensuing kickoff and racing to an 88-yard TD.
UNH answered, too. Three plays later Mello came back to catch a pass from Goldrich, got away from a defender and went 57 yards for a score.
Decloux tied it 10-10 with a 21-yard field goal 4:22 into the second quarter.
Five plays later, UNH struck again when Goldrich hit Jimmy Giansante in stride behind the Maine defense for a 48-yard touchdown to make it 17-10 midway through the period.
MacArthur's second field goal, this one from 22 yards, pushed UNH's lead to 20-10 with 3:25 left before the break.
Maine marched the other way and cut the margin back to a field goal. Quarterback Marcus Wasilewski hit Jon Ebeling in the end zone for the 9-yard TD with 47 seconds left in the half.
UNH had 270 yards of offense in the half to Mane's 176. Maine had 18 rushing yards to New Hampshire's 48.
The Wildcats finished with 495 yards of offense to Maine's 384.