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Fresh off of a three-point victory over Rhode Island in its season opener, New Hampshire is set to host Duquesne in another non-conference bout on Saturday.
Who: Duquesne (2-1, 0-0) at New Hampshire (1-2, 1-0)
When: Saturday, Sept. 28, 12 p.m. ET
Where: Wildcat Stadium; Durham, N.H.
Watch: LIVE on FloFootball
Ricky Santos knows the game plan that Duquesne will use against his University of New Hampshire football team Saturday at UNH’s Wildcat Stadium. At least he thinks he does.
Santos, UNH’s interim head coach, said during his weekly press conference that he expects Duquesne to employ a similar strategy to the one the Dukes used against Towson in the FCS playoffs last season. The Dukes won that game 31-10 to earn the first FCS playoff victory in the program’s history.
“They went into Towson and they ran the football extremely well, and they played man coverage almost the entire game," Santos said. "They weren’t afraid of the playmakers Towson had and we know how explosive that offense is. We feel like they’re going to do the same thing to us and we’re ready for that.”
UNH (1-2, 1-0) is coming off a 27-24 triumph over Rhode Island in its Colonial Athletic Association opener. It was the first coaching victory for Santos, who took over when head coach Sean McDonnell stepped away from the program for health reasons before the season began.
It was also the first victory for true freshman quarterback Max Brosmer, who completed 12-of-23 passes for 184 yards and two touchdowns against the Rams. He also had a two-yard touchdown run.
Saturday's contest will be the first time UNH and Duquesne (2-1, 0-0 Northeast Conference) have met on the football field.
This will be Duquesne’s fourth non-conference game this season. The Dukes opened their season with a 44-3 victory over Division II Walsh. They lost to Youngstown State 34-14 in Week 2 and beat Dayton 35-31 last weekend.
Running back Mark Allen, a graduate transfer from Penn State, was named the NEC Co-Offensive Player of the Week after he ran for 168 yards and two touchdowns against Dayton. Allen scored what turned out to be the game-winning touchdown on a one-yard run in the fourth quarter.
“Coach (Jerry) Schmitt has done a great job of bringing talented players to their roster," Santos said. "They have 18 to 20 transfers. They’re as talented as any FCS team you’re going to find out here.”
Allen was filling in for A.J. Hines, who did not play against Dayton because of an injury. Hines’ status for Saturday’s game is unclear.
Hines, who entered his senior season with 3,989 career rushing yards and 40 career rushing touchdowns — tops among all active FCS players in both categories — was the 2018 NEC Offensive Player of the Year. He posted a school-record six straight 100-yard rushing performances last season.
Duquesne is averaging 196.3 yards rushing per game. Allen has run for 281 yards on 43 carries, and Hines has 140 yards on 28 carries. Each player has run for two TDs.
Despite holding Holy Cross to 62 yards rushing on 35 carries in its opener, UNH is allowing 164.0 yards on the ground per game. Florida International gained 310 yards on 52 carries against the Wildcats, and Rhode Island ran the ball 34 times for 120 yards in last week’s loss.
"They run the football extremely well,” Santos said. “Big offensive line. They have a stable of running backs, so they’re going to try to control the game, ground and pound. We have to do a really good job of tackling (and) a good job of eliminating big plays, because they’re going to try to run the ball, and then they’re going to try some deeps shots — some play-action (passes). They have some tall guys on the perimeter. That’s going to be the key for us is stopping the run."
Out of Their League
The Dukes are 7-12 all-time against current CAA teams. That includes a 1-5 record against Albany when the Great Danes were a member of the NEC.
Each of Duquesne's last two games against CAA teams came in the FCS postseason: In addition to last year’s 31-10 victory at Towson, the Dukes dropped a 52-49 decision to William & Mary in the first round of the 2015 playoffs.
UNH is 9-0 against NEC teams since McDonnell became the program’s head coach in 1999.
Duquesne has scored on 11 of its 13 trips to the red zone. Ten of those 11 scores are touchdowns.
This is the second of three straight home games for UNH, which will play Elon in Durham next weekend.
The Dukes rank No. 6 nationally in total defense (264.3 yards allowed per game) and No. 10 in passing yards allowed (151.3).
Duquesne quarterback Daniel Parr has completed 40 of 62 passes for 429 yards and five touchdowns. He's been intercepted three times. Senior wide receiver Kellon Taylor is his top target. Taylor has 18 receptions for 179 yards and one TD.
Brosmer has completed 39 of 77 passes for 514 yards and four TDs this season. He's been sacked twice and intercepted three times.
Duquesne finished the 2018 season ranked in both the STATS FCS Top 25 (21st) and the AFCA FCS Coaches' Poll (24th). The Dukes returned 10 starters (five on each side of the ball) from last year's team.