New Hampshire has little trouble handling Lehigh
(STATS) – New Hampshire's playoff-experienced team left all of the Lehigh players not feeling so good.
The Wildcats jumped to a big lead in the first half and didn't look back in routing Lehigh 64-21 in the first round of the FCS playoffs Saturday at Wildcat Stadium.
UNH (8-4), which tied for second in CAA Football, will have a rematch in the second round at the conference champion, No. 4 seed James Madison, next Saturday. JMU (10-1) won 42-39 at UNH on Oct. 15.
The Wildcats are appearing in the FCS playoffs for the 13th year – the nation's longest active streak – and their experience showed against Lehigh (9-3), whose nine-game winning streak ended in its first playoff game since 2011.
Mountain Hawks senior quarterback Nick Shafnisky, the Patriot League's offensive player of the year, didn't start the game and was hampered from the flu. Although he came off the bench, Shafnisky and starter Brad Mayes both threw a first-half interception that UNH turned into two touchdowns en route to a 22-0 lead, which was 36-14 by halftime.
UNH's seniors led the way.
Quarterback Adam Riese passed for a career-high 273 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for one score, while running back Dalton Crossan rushed for 184 and scored three TDs. Cornerback Casey DeAndrade's interception of Mayes on the game's opening drive set up Crossan's first touchdown, a 5-yard run.
Sophomore Neil O'Connor caught seven passes for 171 yards and a touchdown.
Lehigh entered the game with the fewest turnovers in the FCS – eight – but committed four against UNH. Shafnisky showed the effects of the flu, throwing two interceptions and losing a fumble.
Mayes wound up 24 of 43 for 273 yards, including a touchdown to wide receiver Troy Pelletier (eight receptions, 138 yards).
Lehigh hasn't won in Durham since 1979 and trail 13-3 in the all-time series.