Gazette: UMass Taking On UNH At Gillette - UMass Athletics

Gazette: UMass Taking On UNH At Gillette

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In the Daily Hampshire Gazette, Matt Vautour has this preview of the UMass-UNH game aka the 2010 Colonial Clash.

After his team faced its first true adversity of the season in Saturday's 11-10 loss to Richmond, University of Massachusetts football coach Kevin Morris was optimistic about how his team will bounce back this weekend.

"We've shown the maturity to be able to come back and win in the fourth quarter," said Morris, citing his team's three come-from-behind wins. "Now it's a whole different question. But with the same maturity in mind, can we bounce back from a game that we should have won and come back with a real strong contest and win the following week? It's another test."

Saturday's 3:30 p.m. game against New Hampshire at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough figures to be an easy game for both teams to get motivated for. Any game in the Patriots' stadium is a big one. As is any game against rival New Hampshire. Add in the fact that it can significantly impact the Colonial Athletic Association standings as well as both teams'

UMass football taking on UNH at Gillette

AMHERST - After his team faced its first true adversity of the season in Saturday's 11-10 loss to Richmond, University of Massachusetts football coach Kevin Morris was optimistic about how his team will bounce back this weekend.

"We've shown the maturity to be able to come back and win in the fourth quarter," said Morris, citing his team's three come-from-behind wins. "Now it's a whole different question. But with the same maturity in mind, can we bounce back from a game that we should have won and come back with a real strong contest and win the following week? It's another test."

Saturday's 3:30 p.m. game against New Hampshire at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough figures to be an easy game for both teams to get motivated for. Any game in the Patriots' stadium is a big one. As is any game against rival New Hampshire. Add in the fact that it can significantly impact the Colonial Athletic Association standings as well as both teams' postseason chances.

"It's UNH. It's a big rivalry game. We don't like each other," UMass sophomore safety Darren Thellen said. "It's going to be great to play UNH at Gillette Stadium. It's a big conference game. It's as big as it gets."

Senior defensive end Bob McLaughlin agreed.

"We need to win it," he said. "It's New Hampshire and we always like beating New Hampshire and then playing at Gillette Stadium is another plus."

Morris said the Minutemen (4-2, 2-1 CAA) need to get back to playing well regardless of opponent or venue.

"Kids are excited to come back and play and we have a couple factors added to that," Morris said. "We need to get back to UMass football and alleviate some of the mistakes we had last week with the turnovers and the penalties that took us out of putting that game away. Anytime you lose the way we did, you get the kids' attention right away. We're in a situation where every game we play is going to be a battle. We need to be able to stand up and fight and finish."

New Hampshire (4-3, 2-2 CAA) looked to be on the verge of collapse in early October when the Wildcats lost to Rhode Island and Maine, which both sit near the bottom of the CAA standings. New Hampshire's six-year playoff streak was very much in jeopardy.

But a 17-0 win over Richmond at home and last week's come-from behind 28-24 win at James Madison as breathed new life into coach Sean McDonnell's team.

"When you're 2-3 and have lost some tough games, it shakes your confidence a little bit," McDonnell said. "Coming back and beating a very good Richmond team gave us a little life and then going down to JMU and finishing a game when we were behind in the second half, it reinforced to the kids that hey, we're O.K."

UNH senior quarterback R.J. Toman leads the CAA in passing yards per game (231.0), attempts (232), completions (149) and interceptions (eight). His 10 touchdown passes are second in the league.

"Offensively, Toman, he's the guy making it click for them as he always has," Morris said. "He's a great football player. We're obviously very concerned about him."

Terrance Fox is his favorite target. Fox leads the CAA in catches (42), yards (461) and touchdown receptions (five).

New Hampshire relies heavily on its air attack as its 124.7 rushing yards per game is ninth in the conference. Sophomore Dontra Peters is the Wildcats' top ball carrier with 59.7 yards per game.

Senior safety Dino Vasso's five interceptions lead the CAA while teammates John Greer and Kyle Flemmings are tied for third with three each.

"They really got the ship righted and have to feel very confident about the way they're playing ball right now," Morris said. "They're playing very inspired defense running around very well right now."

McDonnell expected his team to be tested Saturday.

"We're a good football team, let's find out how good we are," he said. "We're going to get another test this week to prove that against one of the best teams in the country."

HONORING KNIGHT AWARD WINNERS, FORMER PATRIOTS - The Bill Knight Award is annually given to the Most Valuable Player in the UMass-UNH game. Some former winners of the award will participate in the pregame coin toss. Jason Hatchell (who won the award in 2006) and Dave Palazzi (1988) will represent UMass. Current Minuteman Jonathan Hernandez won the award last year after rushing for 166 yards and a TD.

Players from both schools that played for the New England Patriots will also be recognized. Ex-Minutemen Kole Ayi and Ed Toner and ex-Wildcat Ilia Jarostvajuk will be honored.


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