Dec 4, 2013, 4:13 PM EDT
CAA Football has officially shifted gears into playoff mode, with all three remaining teams — Maine, New Hampshire and Towson — still alive in the hunt for the national championship trophy. Over the past decade, CAA Football owns a 47-32 mark in the playoffs, including a 40-25 mark versus nonconference opponents in the postseason.
New Hampshire, currently making its 10th-straight postseason appearance, rolled to a 45-7 first-round win over Lafayette in the only CAA Football contest last week. The Wildcats totaled over 500 yards of offense, allowed just 73 rushing yards and registered 10 sacks in the win, which was the team’s seventh in its last eight games. Maine and Towson, the No. 5 and 7 seeds in the field of 24, respectively, enjoyed a bye week in preparation for the second round.
Ironically, Maine will host New Hampshire, the team it met two weeks ago, in its first-ever home playoff game in program history on Saturday at 2 p.m.. It will be the 102nd meeting all-time, though the coveted Brice-Cowell Musket will not be up for grabs. Maine’s last home win in the series was a 16-13 overtime victory in 2010. The Wildcats have won 11 of the last 12 meetings in the series overall.
Towson, on the other hand, will play host to former Patriot League foe Fordham, which defeated Sacred Heart, 37-27, in the first round. The Tigers have had a remarkable year that has been highlighted by an FBS win (vs. UConn on Aug. 29) and the program’s first 10-win season since 1982. Saturday’s contest pits Towson’s superb rushing attack (236 ypg, No. 15 in the FCS) against Fordham’s fourth-ranked passing offense (358 YPG).
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- New Hampshire totaled 551 yards of offense (283 rushing, 268 passing) in its convincing, 45-7 first-round playoff win over Lafayette. Three Wildcats RBs in Nico Steriti, Chris Setian and Dalton Crossan had one rushing TD, while the redshirt freshman Crossan also added a TD catch in the win.
- UNH’s defense held its second-straight opponent to under 100 yards rushing (73 yards for Lafayette), while sacking the Leopards an impressive 10 times. Senior DE Jay Colbert led the attack with three sacks, while LB Shane McNeely had seven tackles, including 1.5 for loss, and a forced fumble.
- Wildcats QB Sean Goldrich threw for a season-high 267 yards and two scores, finding favorite target R.J. Harris eight times. Harris finished with 173 yards and one score en route to moving into fifth place on UNH’s all-time receptions list (188).
- Maine enters Saturday’s second-round FCS Playoff matchup against the Wildcats fresh off an open week as a result of its No. 5 seeding. It will be the Black Bears’ first-ever home playoff contest in the program’s illustrious 121-year history.
- UNH has played two CAA Football foes in the same season twice to date – with the second meeting coming in the playoffs both times. In 2006, UNH faced former league member UMass and then squared off with Villanova in 2009. The ‘Cats lost both meetings with UMass and split the series with Nova, losing the in second round of the 2009 playoffs.
- Maine and UNH met on Nov. 23, with the Wildcats handing the Black Bears a 24-3 loss, their first FCS loss of the season and first setback to an FCS foe since Nov. 3, 2012.
- While the Wildcats have won 10 of the last 11 games in the series, the Black Bears own a perfect 5-0 mark at Alfond Stadium this season. The last time Maine was in the FCS Playoffs was just two years ago when it defeated Appalachian State in the first round before falling to Georgia Southern in the quarterfinals. This is the program’s seventh overall appearance in the playoffs.
- Maine QB Marcus Wasilewski, a First Team All-CAA Football selection, ranks in the top 20 nationally in five categories — third in completion percentage (.689), 12th in both pass efficiency (154.0) and passing yards (3,009), 15th in total offense (289.2 ypg) and 19th in passing TDs (23).
- Towson leads CAA Football in fourth down conversion percentage and ranks sixth in the FCS with a .704 mark. New Hampshire ranks 24th in the FCS and second in the conference in the same category (.611). Maine, leads CAA Football in fourth down conversion defense at 30%, which is good for 10th in the FCS.
- Towson stud RB Terrance West, who was recently named one of three finalists for the prestigious Walter Payton Award honors the top FCS football player, has rushed for 1,875 yards and has scored an FCS-best 30 rushing TDs this season.
- Towson ranks third in the nation with 40 rushing TDs this season compared to just 14 scores through the air. QB Peter Athens has accounted for all of those TD throws. In addition to West’s 30 rushing touchdowns, CAA Football Offensive Rookie of the Year Darius Victor and Athens have has added another five and two, respectively. Sterlin Phifer, Trea Jones and Brian Dowling have each registered one rushing score to round out the team total.
- The Tigers own the nation’s 15th-ranked red zone defense (72.5 %) and have allowed a total of four TFL this season, good for seventh in the FCS.
- The Tigers average 37.2 points per game and 459.9 yards per contest this season. The team’s offensive line also has been impressive, allowing a total of nine sacks for just 56 yards in 2013.
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