By Dan Libon
FOXBOROUGH, MA — As far as University of Massachusetts (Amherst) is concerned, the rivalry with University of New Hampshire is officially over, as the Wildcats walked away with a 27-21 win over the Division I bound Minutemen at Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
“It’s sad. It’s been something special for a long time,” said UNH coach Sean McDonnell, when asked to describe the final meeting between both squads.
The Wildcats started the game with a five-yard touchdown run by Dontra Peters (13 carries, 92-yards) and then converted a two-point conversion thanks to quarterback Kevin Decker, who connected with Brian McNally to give UNH a 8-0 lead.
“We felt we had something,” said McDonnell, when asked about his team’s two-point conversion.
“[We were] going to do things like that [because] it gives us an opportunity to get points on the board [and even win games too].”
UNH then added a late first quarter field goal, which didn’t seem to bother UMass, who scored on a 23-yard touchdown run by Julian Talley, but failed to convert on a two-point conversion. Then, on the ensuing possession, Dontra Peters scored literally two minutes later on a one-yard run, which increased the Wildcats lead to 12-points before the Minutemen registered one more touchdown before halftime.
However, this game of cat and mouse concluded late in the third quarter when UNH expanded its lead on a crucial third-down when Decker connected with Sean Cullen for a 23-yard touchdown. UMass then responded with a nine-minute drive, which resulted in a Kellen Pagel five-yard touchdown run, and another failed PAT.
Afterward, both teams added one field goal each before the regulation clock stuck zero.
UMass Is Ready For Division I Football: Beginning next season, UMass will move on to the MAC, (Mid-American Conference) and based on their coach’s thoughts after the game concluded, the Minutemen aren’t exactly heartbroken over the end of this particular rivalry.
“You move up, [and] move on. We got a future ahead in the MAC Conference. We’ll create some rivalries there,” said UMass head coach Kevin Morris.
Stars of the Colonial Clash: Dontra Peters led the Wildcats with two rushing touchdowns, while quarterback Kevin Decker finished 11-of-15 for 137 yards and one touchdown.
For the Minutemen, Kellen Pagel went 25-of-42 for 249 yards, and Jonathan Hernandez ran for 89 yards and one score. Hernandez had an up and down kind of day where he was a threat at times but was easily wrapped up at other times.
New UNH Rivalry: With UMass gone from the conference, UNH will put the focus on their remaining rival, UMaine.
“All our energy and efforts have to go to the University of Maine it looks like,” said McDonnell.
UMass Return to Gillette Stadium in 2012: UMass meanwhile will be back at Gillette Stadium next year when it becomes their new home stadium.
“We’ll be very excited to make this our home field.” Said Morris.
NEXT UP: UNH will host URI next week while UMass will travel to Richmond next Saturday.