#8 Chattanooga at #1 New Hampshire FCS Football 2014 Playoffs Quarterfinals Game Breakdown

George Hammond


#8 Chattanooga at #1 New Hampshire, Friday, 8:00

Something has to give when these two meet in Durham, New Hampshire, Friday night in what should be an outstanding college football game. Top-seeded New Hampshire (11-1), which defeated Fordham, 44-19, in the second round of the playoffs has won 11 consecutive games and is unbeaten in its last 13 games at Cowell Stadium affectionately known as “The Dungeon.” No. 8 seed Chattanooga (10-3), meanwhile, beat Indiana State, 35-14, in its first playoff appearance since 1984 to earn its seventh straight victory.

Both were impressive in their second-round victories. New Hampshire played an aggressive, attacking defense against Fordham’s high-powered offense and succeeded, sacking Rams’ quarterback Mike Nebrich nine times. Nebrich was averaging 312.5 yards passing per game but was held to just 161 yards on 12-of-30 attempts.

The Mocs held Indiana State to just eight first downs and 178 yards. Perhaps even more impressive, the Sycamores converted on just 1-of-10 third-down attempts.

Friday’s game will pit the Mocs’ ball-control attack against New Hampshire’s quick-strike offense. Chattanooga held the ball for nearly 43 minutes against Indiana State and ran 87 plays to the Sycamores’ 45. Chattanooga quarterback Jacob Huesman had 394 yards of total offense (he rushed 31 times) and left ISU coach Mike Sanford impressed. “No question UTC’s Jacob Huesman is the best quarterback we have seen this season. He is better than I thought ... He is special ... a difference maker and we couldn’t stop him,” Sanford said.

New Hampshire counters with a veteran offense led by quarterback Sean Goldrich, running  back Nico Steriti and wideout R.J. Harris. Goldrich threw for 240 yards and rushed for 48 yards against Fordham, while Steriti had a season-high 110 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. Steriti will carry the load against the Mocs as teammate Jimmy Owens suffered a knee injury against Fordham and is likely out this week. But the Wildcats’ most dangerous weapon might be Harris, who is ranked fifth nationally in receiving yards per game.

New Hampshire has the 23rd ranked offense in the nation, while Chattanooga is fifth in total defense and third in passing yards allowed. The Mocs are fourth in time of possession so it will be interesting to see whether they can keep the Wildcats’ offense on the sidelines. There are no common opponents. New Hampshire’s only loss came against Toledo in the season opener, 54-20. Toledo beat Central Michigan, 42-28, which defeated Chattanooga 20-16 in the season opener so take from that what you wish.

The Mocs’ defense and physicality should give New Hampshire a challenge, but whether it can shut down a veteran, talented Wildcats offense remains to be seen. On the other side, quarterback Huesman will make plays, whether he makes enough of them might determine the outcome. One concern for the Mocs has to be the kicking game. Henrique Ribeiro had two field goals blocked against Indiana State and missed a 21-yarder while the Wildcats are 6-of-12 in field goal attempts this season. Both are good enough to reach the championship, but someone has to win, so ...

Projected Score: Chattanooga 23, New Hampshire 21


See All FCS Playoff Breakdowns