FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — Junior New Hampshire running back Dontra Peters rushed for two touchdowns as the Wildcats held off Massachusetts in a 27-21 win on Saturday.
Peters finished with 92 yards rushing on 13 carries for the Wildcats (5-2, 3-1 Colonial Athletic Association). He scored on a 5-yard run in the first quarter and added a 1-yard touchdown run in the second to give New Hampshire an 18-6 lead.
In the third quarter, the Wildcats pushed their lead to 24-12 when Sean Cullen caught a 23-yard touchdown from Kevin Decker. The Minutemen cut the margin to six points with 10:43 left in the fourth quarter, driving 80 yards on 19 plays, capped by Kellen Pagel’s 5-yard touchdown run.
Massachusetts (4-3, 0-1) added a late field goal, but was unable to pull any closer.
Decker completed 11 of 15 passes for 137 yards.
Peters collected the hardware as the winner of the Bill Knight Trophy awarded to the most outstanding player in the New Hampshire-Massachusetts game.
That was nice, but not the reason he and the Wildcats came to the Gillette Stadium on Saturday.
“Personally, it’s not about the trophy,” Peters said. “Like coach said, this was huge for us. It might be the last time we play them and we got all hyped up about it all week. I’m just satisfied putting the last ‘W’ on the board.”
That was the bottom line to UNH’s win over Massachusetts in front of 24,022 in what for now at least is the last Colonial Clash: It was a most-satisfying sendoff for the Wildcats.
Massachusetts is off to the Mid-American Conference and the Football Bowl Subdivision and UNH finished off the series that started in 1897 and has gone non-stop since 1952 with two straight wins, both at Gillette Stadium. The teams may play again at some point, but nothing is set up at the moment.
“Credit goes to these kids,” said UNH coach Sean McDonnell. “They wanted to get this one. It’s the last dance they have with these guys and they went out and got it.”
The Wildcats did it by starting fast, establishing an effective running game and keeping the UMass offense under control for the most part.
UNH, ranked No. 13 last week, improved to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in the Colonial Athletic Association and bounced back from a 24-10 loss at William & Mary last week.
The Wildcats play Rhode Island, a 38-34 upset winner over No. 16 Delaware on Saturday, at home next Saturday. They have their next two and three of their last four games at Cowell Stadium.
UMass, which is ineligible for a CAA title or the playoffs as it transitions up, fell to 4-3 and is 2-2 against CAA opponents.
(c)2011 The New Hampshire Union Leader (Manchester, N.H.)
Distributed by MCT Information Services