Oct. 16, 2010

Courtesy of New Hampshire Athletics

HARRISONBURG, Va. - Matt Evans (Hanover, Mass.) returned a fumble for a touchdown, forced another and amassed a game-high and career-high-tying 14 tackles as the 15th ranked University of New Hampshire football team upset sixth-ranked James Madison, 28-14, on Saturday afternoon at Bridgeforth Stadium. The Wildcats outscored the Dukes, 18-0, in the second half to record their first win at JMU since Sept. 28, 1996.

Dino Vasso (Crum Lynne, Pa.) added two interceptions for a UNH defense that tallied four sacks, forced three turnovers and held the Dukes to only 11 first downs in the game. JMU quarterback Drew Dudzik was held to 10 completions in 23 attempts for 157 yards and two interceptions.

R.J. Toman (Mission Viejo, Calif.) went 22 of 40 for 248 yards and a touchdown; Dontra Peters (Annapolis, Md. carried the ball 11 times for 60 yards and a score and Terrance Fox (Piscataway, N.J.) hauled in a team-leading six receptions for 52 yards and a touchdown.

The Wildcats' defense, which forced seven turnovers in last weekend's shutout of Richmond, produced the first points of the game at 12:04 of the first quarter. On a 2nd-and-4 play from the JMU 20, Dudzik kept the ball up the middle but Hugo Souza (Marshfield, Mass./five tackles, forced fumble) jarred the ball loose and Evans recovered the fumble and ran 17 yards untouched into the end zone. UNH led 7-0 at 12:04 following the ensuing PAT by Mike MacArthur (North Hampton, N.H.).

James Madison (4-2, 1-2 Colonial Athletic Association) responded on its next possession with an eight-play, 77-yard drive that was capped off with a two-yard touchdown run by Scott Noble (19 carries-100 yards-2 TD) to tie the score, 7-7, with 8:19 remaining in the first quarter. Noble's 44-yard scamper on 3rd-and-2 from the JMU 31 extended the drive and put the Dukes in scoring position.

On its first offensive possession of the game, UNH (4-3, 2-2) marched 42 yards in seven plays to regain the lead, 10-7, on MacArthur's 30-yard field goal with 6:05 to go in the opening period. That score was set up by a 22-yard run by Peters that advanced the ball to the JMU 13.

Dae'Quon Scott's 53-yard punt return gave JMU excellent field position at the UNH 11 and set up the game's next score. A defensive pass interference on 3rd-and-13 extended the Dukes' drive, and one play later Noble ran outside the left tackle untouched into the end zone from two yards out to give the home team its first lead of the game, 14-10, with 7:32 remaining in the first half.

UNH failed to convert on 4th-and-3 at the JMU 36 to give the Dukes possession with 1:24 to play in the first half. James Madison advanced to the UNH 28, but a James Jenkins (Paterson, N.J.) sack and two incompletions forced a 46-yard field goal attempt by Ben Hopewell, who pushed the kick wide left.

On the opening kickoff of the second half, Peters' 41-yard return gave New Hampshire the ball on the JMU 40. Toman connected with Sean Cullen (Naples, Fla.) down the right sideline for a 25-yard gain to the Dukes' 10 to set up MacArthur's 26-yard field goal that pulled the 'Cats within 14-13 at 12:17. Cullen finished the day with four catches for a game-leading 66 yards.

JMU marched to the UNH 28 on its next possession, but lost two yards on consecutive running plays and then Brian McNally (Cornwall, N.Y.) and Lance Mailloux (Bedford, N.H.) combined on an eight-yard sack to force the Dukes to punt.

The Wildcats moved the ball from its one 1-yard line to the JMU 20, but the defense stiffened and sent the 'Cats back 19 yards on the next three plays to force a punt.

UNH regained the lead for good, 21-14, with an eight-play, 64-yard drive that spanned the third and fourth quarters. The drive opened with 59 seconds left in the third and on 2nd-and-14, Fox spun out of a tackle at the 40 and picked up 10 more yards to give the 'Cats first down at midfield. Toman completed a 25-yard pass to Cullen and a 14-yard pass to Peters to advance the ball to the JMU 16. Facing 3rd-and-9 at the 13, Fox went in motion, caught the ball in the left flat and scampered untouched into the end zone behind a lead block by Joey Orlando (Bethlehem, Pa.). UNH converted a 2-point conversion on a shovel-pass from Toman to Sean Jellison (Amherst, N.H.).

On the Duke's ensuing possession, Vasso made an athletic play to intercept the ball at the UNH 22. With 10:38 remaining in the game, the 'Cats began an eight-play, 78-yard drive that consumed 4:13 off the clock and extended the advantage to 28-14 at 6:25. After a three-yard loss on first down, Toman's pass attempt to Cullen was jarred out of the tight end's arms but caught in mid-air by senior wide receiver Chris Chandler (Wakefield, Mass.) for a nine-yard gain. The Wildcats proceeded to keep the ground for the final six plays on the drive, with Jellison (nine carries-58 yards; three receptions-30 yards) gaining 33 yards on three carries and Peters finishing off the drive with a 14-yard touchdown sweep around the left end.

Vasso added his second interception of the game when he grabbed Dudzik's deep pass that caromed off Souza's shoulder pad at the UNH 24-yard line with 6:04 remaining, allowing the Wildcats to snap a 10-game CAA road losing streak in Virginia.

New Hampshire returns to action Oct. 23 for the inaugural Colonial Clash against the University of Massachusetts. The game, which kicks off at 3:30 p.m., will be played at Gillette Stadium - home of the NFL's New England Patriots.