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UMass falls to UNH in final Colonial Clash

10.22.11 at 7:29 pm ET

It was the end of an era in college football.

UNH beat UMass 27-21 in the second — and last — Colonial Clash at Gillette Stadium in front of 24,022 fans Saturday. Running back Dontra Peters won the Bill Knight Award, as he led the way for UNH with 92 yards rushing to go along with two touchdowns.

“Another great atmosphere here at Gillette,” UNH coach Sean McDonnell said. “Having the opportunity to play UMass and not knowing if we’re ever going to have another one against them, it meant a lot to us to win this football game.”

The Minutemen will begin playing in the Mid-American Conference (MAC) of the Football Bowl Subdivision next season, meaning Saturday was the last time UNH and UMass faced each other as conference rivals in the CAA. This year’s Colonial Clash marked the 74th time the two teams squared off in a rivalry that started 114 years ago.

“It’s one of those things where you move up and move on,” UMass coach Kevin Morris said. “We have a future ahead in the MAC conference and we’ll create some rivalries there.”

In the final installment of the UNH-UMass rivalry, the Minutemen found themselves in an early hole, down 18-12 at halftime. UNH extended its lead to 24-12 in the third quarter thanks to a 23-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kevin Decker to tight end Sean Cullen. UMass answered with a 19-play, 80-yard drive that was capped off by a 5-yard TD run by sophomore quarterback Kellen Pagel to bring UMass within six points of the lead with 10:43 left in the game.

But UNH answered with a Mike MacArthur field goal at 5:09 to extend its lead to 27-18. UMass could only muster a field goal before Justin Mello recovered UMass’ onside kick attempt with 1:44 left in regulation, effectively ending UMass’ chances of a comeback.

Due to its transition to the FBS, UMass cannot officially compete in the CAA this season and will not be allowed to compete in the FCS playoffs, either. The Minutemen will begin a full slate of games in the MAC next year and will be eligible for the MAC championship and bowl participation in 2013.

UMass will also play all of its home games in Gillette Stadium as part of its move up to the FBS. The Minutemen currently play their home games in Warren McGuirk Stadium on their Amherst campus.

The first Colonial Clash last year — which UNH also won, 39-13 — was the first ever college football game played at Gillette, yielding an attendance of over 32,000 fans. Now UMass will share the facility full time with the New England Patriots.

“There’s no better venue in the country to play NFL football or obviously college football, so we’ll be very excited to make this our home field,” Morris said of Gillette.

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