When he sprained his ankle and learned that a fourth consecutive football season would be abbreviated due to injury, New Hampshire’s Sean Goldrich could have been excused for driving south of campus and pitching his pads, helmet and cleats into the Oyster River Reservoir, and walked, or rather limped, away from the game.
The Wildcats’ hard-luck quarterback did everything short of hire a food taster and live inside a bubble to prepare for his senior season. He ate right, did yoga, even set aside his social life. Yet there he was again, sidelined for a couple of weeks and limited for several more after a high ankle sprain Sept. 12 at Colgate.
“I was a little bit down on myself,” Goldrich said, “but at the same time I understood that these things do happen and it’s part of football. I tried not to hang my head, and I was glad that it wasn’t a career-ending injury or a season-ending injury.”
Finally approaching 100%, Goldrich and the Wildcats (5-4, 3-3 CAA) gained traction in the past couple of weeks as they prepare for Saturday’s game at Albany (3-6, 2-4) and continue a late push toward the FCS playoffs.
Goldrich was superb in last Saturday’s 30-25 win against No. 5 Richmond. He completed 21 of 36 passes for a season-best 264 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a touchdown and provided the running threat that helped to create lanes for the backs.
“I want to get the best out of myself and put my teammates in situations where they can be at their best,” Goldrich said. “I want to finish on a strong note. I understand that we can win these two games and still not make the playoffs, but I want to make sure that we leave everything out on the field, so we’ll have no regrets looking back.”
His only regrets about his college career are not being on the field more often. He is a communications major with a double-minor in frustration and perseverance. He missed games due to a separated shoulder as a redshirt freshman, a rib contusion as a sophomore and ligament damage to his knee last season. Each time he returned to the field and helped the Wildcats reach the playoffs, advancing to the semifinals the past two seasons.
“I’ve told some people he’s a hard-hitting safety playing (quarterback,)” UNH head coach Sean McDonnell said. “All the injuries that he’s had have been (on) runs that were designed runs for him and he was always fighting to get the extra yard or do something of that nature.”
Goldrich, 6-3 and 218 pounds, is a dual-threat quarterback who has thrown for more than 6,600 yards, rushed for 1,000 yards and completed 60 percent of his passes.
“I think the thing that makes him such a great quarterback for us is his leadership ability,” offensive coordinator Ryan Carty said. “People are drawn to him, they gravitate toward him. The young guys look up to him, and the older guys have played with him and know what he’s been through and what he’s capable of. On the field, it’s his consistency. He does the right things mentally and physically. When he’s at his best, he’s an extremely accurate passer and he processes information very quickly.”
Goldrich’s leadership was evident against Rhode Island. The Wildcats were sitting at 3-4 and trailed at home 17-0 at halftime to a program they had outscored 140-53 in the previous three years. Goldrich and Dalton Crossan led a second-half comeback for a 20-17 win.
“If we lost, there was going to be no shot,” Goldrich said. “We wouldn’t be close to making the playoffs, and that’s not something I was cool with. So in the second half, I just said, screw it, I’m going to go out there and push this thing and hopefully (my ankle) holds up. I’ve got to bring my old game back and try to run the ball some and keep the defense guessing. Luckily, it held up.”
Goldrich and the Wildcats looked more like themselves in the past six quarters. Whether they can extend the longest active playoff streak in FCS — 11 years and counting — remains to be seen. He was never going to give up on the game, or his team.
“I love playing football, I love being part of this team,” Goldrich said. “I fight off the injuries, I fight through the recovery and I enjoy myself every time I’m out there. I’m hoping that my bad luck’s run out.”
Above: Sean Goldrich and New Hampshire’s football team have looked more like themselves in the past six quarters. (Courtesy Ryan Szepan/UNH Athletics)