Gazette: N.E. Rivals Looks Forward To Gillette - UMass Athletics

Gazette: N.E. Rivals Looks Forward To Gillette

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As University of Massachusetts senior defensive end Bob McLaughlin watched the New England Patriots play the Baltimore Ravens on TV Sunday, it didn't sink in that he was looking at the field he was going to play on six days later.

The Minutemen will face rival New Hampshire Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in the Colonial Clash at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

"I didn't think of it during the game, but when I came down to practice and we started talking about it, I thought back to the game and thought, it's going to be pretty fun getting to play out there," said the Brewster native and lifelong fan of the Patriots. "We're really excited to get to step out on that field. It's going to be a good time."

Read this full story in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

New England rivals look forward to playing at Gillette

AMHERST - As University of Massachusetts senior defensive end Bob McLaughlin watched the New England Patriots play the Baltimore Ravens on TV Sunday, it didn't sink in that he was looking at the field he was going to play on six days later.

The Minutemen will face rival New Hampshire Saturday at 3:30 p.m. in the Colonial Clash at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough.

"I didn't think of it during the game, but when I came down to practice and we started talking about it, I thought back to the game and thought, it's going to be pretty fun getting to play out there," said the Brewster native and lifelong fan of the Patriots. "We're really excited to get to step out on that field. It's going to be a good time."

In front of another TV 133 miles away, New Hampshire senior tailback Sean Jellison, who is also a Pats fan, watched New England's win with teammates. The Colonial Clash was very much on their minds.

"We were sitting there discussing, wondering if they were going to do anything special with the field," he said. "A bunch of us were watching the game. Every now and then somebody would say, 'Wow, we're really going to be playing there.'"

UMass senior offensive lineman Greg Niland grew up not far from Foxborough in East Bridgewater. His parents have Patriots season tickets and he's been to quite a few games in their end zone corner seats. It never occurred to him he'd get the chance to play there.

"I didn't find out about the game until after I transferred (from Northeastern). How can you not be looking forward to it?" Niland said. "It's going to be awesome, playing on the same field as the Patriots in front of a big crowd."

For someone with just three career touchdown catches, senior tight end Andrew Krevis has collected memorable stadiums to catch them in. In addition to the one he caught Saturday at home, Krevis had one last year at Kansas State and one this year at Michigan Stadium.

"It would be nice if I got one (at Gillette) too," Krevis said. "I've been watching my favorite team play in that stadium every Sunday. Now I get to go play in there. It's something I'll be able to say I did. It's a great thing."

Senior defensive lineman Brandon Flanagan had been focusing on the opponent more than the venue, but as Saturday got closer, he's gotten progressively more excited.

"This is absolutely going to be a special experience. Especially for the guys who grew up in Mass., it's going to be an exciting venue to play at," said the Reading native. "We're not talking about it, we're focusing on the fact that we're playing UNH. Once we get to the stadium on Friday, it's really going to sink in."

The Minutemen will practice at Gillette on Friday. Senior fullback Scott Duggan expects the team will get any distractions out of the way then.

"It's always good to get the surroundings in early like we did at Michigan," said Duggan, a Hudson native who grew up rooting for the Patriots. "We can get the jitters and the awe factor out of the way. But once the whistle blows, you don't notice anything other than the task at hand."

Both coaches were pleased to be included in the contest.

"It's going to be very exciting. We're fortunate that they invited us down for the first collegiate game. It's going to be a great atmosphere in another great venue," UMass coach Kevin Morris said. "It's a great weekend. It's us vs. UNH which is a great rivalry game. We're excited about that game every year no matter where it's played. It's obviously a great venue. The UMass alumni are going out of their minds. They can't wait to get down there and watch the game in the big stadium."

UNH coach Sean McDonnell agreed. "It's an unbelievable thing that (Patriots owner Robert) Kraft and the Patriots have done to give New England football an opportunity to showcase two of its finest programs," he said. "Our kids are so excited. We have a lot of kids from Mass. and Connecticut. You're going to play one of your arch rivals in a pro stadium in a game that means something. What else can you ask for?"

Morris, who grew up a Giants fan, played in Giants Stadium in a high school playoff game for Westfield, N.J. He understood his players' excitement.

"It was fantastic. Westfield High School vs. Union High School back in the day," said Morris, who admitted he was still disappointed that his team lost the game.

Morris thinks his players will keep the venue excitement in the proper perspective.

"They played in Michigan. They played at K-State. This is another big-time venue," he said. "I'm sure they'll be excited. I think they'll also keep UNH in mind."

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