Durham, NH (SportsNetwork.com) - New Hampshire has the nation's top ranking and No. 1 playoff seed to motivate opponents, but the Wildcats announced they feel ready for the challenge by dispatching Fordham, 44-19, in the second round of the FCS postseason Saturday.
UNH (11-1) extended its school-record winning streak to 11 games as its began its 11th straight appearance in the playoffs. The Wildcats will host eighth- seeded Chattanooga (10-3) in the national quarterfinals next weekend.
The CAA Football champions had terrific offensive balance with 274 passing yards and 270 rushing yards. Nico Steriti rushed for a season-high 110 yards and a career-high four touchdowns on 14 carries to fuel the win, while quarterback Sean Goldrich passed for 240 yards and had 48 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
If it wasn't for Fordham freshman sensation Chase Edmonds (208 rushing yards, 385 all-purpose yards, one touchdown), the score could have been worse for the Rams (11-3), the Patriot League champions who were coming off a first-round win over Sacred Heart.
New Hampshire had six sacks of Fordham quarterback Mike Nebrich in the game's first nine minutes and threatened to swamp the Rams. Jimmy Owens scored on a 51-yard run on the Wildcats' first offensive play and Goldrich capped their second drive with an 8-yard scoring run on 4th-and-2 as they built a 14-0 lead in the game's first 6 1/2 minutes.
But two turnovers by New Hampshire kept the Rams in the game and they pulled within 14-12 in the second quarter on Edmonds' 91-touchdown run and two Michael Marando field goals.
The Wildcats then regained firm control of the game by halftime. Steriti scored on an 11-yard touchdown run with 3:07 left in the second quarter and Brad Prasky kicked a 30-yard field goal to end the half, pushing their lead to 24-12.
Steriti scored on two more runs (1 and 7 yards) in the third quarter to sandwich around a Fordham score that was set up Edmonds' 65-yard kickoff return and New Hampshire led 37-19 after three quarters.
Steriti added his fourth touchdown on a 24-yard touchdown with 4:48 to play.
Nebrich, averaging 312.5 passing yards per game, was held to 161 yards on 12- of-30 passes with one touchdown and one interception.