BY JEFF FALK
VILLANOVA – If you know anything about Evan Horn, you know how competitive he is. Yet it’s not an individual thing with Horn, it’s a team thing.
That’s not to say that he doesn’t take losing very personally.
The 2018 season hasn’t unfolded quite the way Horn and the University of New Hampshire football squad had hoped. But yesterday everything came together for the Wildcats at Villanova, during a late-season Colonial Athletic Association contest.
On a misty Saturday afternoon at Villanova Stadium, the former Cedar Crest star’s New Hampshire club drubbed the home side 34-0. After the game, Horn was more ecstatic about New Hampshire’s second win of the season and the fact that UNH pitched a shutout than he was about his admirable performance at safety.
New Hampshire scored on the first snap of the game, on a 75-yard touchdown run by Carlos Washington, and never relented. UNH led 10-0 after 15 minutes of play and 24-0 at the break.
It was the second shutout of the season for New Hampshire, which improved to 2-6 in the Football Championship Subdivision and 1-4 in the conference. Villanova slipped to 3-5 overall and 0-5 in the Colonial.
“It was a great win, especially as a team,” said Horn, after meeting with a group of well-wishers that included family, friends and former Cedar Crest coaches. “We put it on them early and didn’t let up. Obviously, this was the first time we started fast all season. That was the first early lead we had all year, and it was our first lead since Holy Cross. We never left them (Villanova) get back in it. It was a dominating performance, on both sides of the football.
“It was our second shutout this year,” continued Horn. “It’s a testament to how hard we worked in practice. We nailed the game plan.”
With Horn lining up on the edge in UNH’s base defense, New Hampshire limited Villanova to a paltry 164 yards of total offense, and just 13 rushing yards. Villanova misfired on an opening-quarter 41-yard field-goal attempt and penetrated New Hampshire’s red zone only twice.
The New Hampshire defense forced four three-and-outs.
Horn finished with a single solo tackle, but Villanova chose to run away from him most of the afternoon. The 6-0, 206-pound sophomore, who didn’t see much action in the fourth quarter because of New Hampshire’s comfortable lead, also was efficient in pass coverage.
“I played pretty well,” said Horn. “I didn’t play that many plays. We had a lot of three-and-outs. But I did miss a tackle.
“Strong safety is a little different,” Horn continued. “You’ve got to play the run first and then think pass. If your eyes are right, you can make reads. And if you can make reads, you can make plays.”
In eight games this season, Horn has 31 solo tackles, 17 assists and 48 total tackles – one of which is a sack – a total which is third on the team. He also has two interceptions, four pass break-ups and a forced fumble.
As a unit, the New Hampshire defense is yielding 312 yards of total offense per outing.
“It’s definitely tough,” said Horn of the effect the season has had on his desire to win. “I try to tell myself to control what I can control. It’s not what you want to do. You don’t want to go out and lose.
“It’s not the season I wanted,” added Horn. “I could care less about the (personal) stats. I care about 2-6. Defensively, we’re playing well as a team. It would be nice to get some more wins going forward, to have some momentum going into next season.”
Because he’s so intense, so focused on the next game, sometimes it’s difficult for Horn to see the big picture. But if he would allow himself the luxury, Horn would see that he’s doing pretty well, starting at safety and being a huge contributor to a major college football program as a red-shirt sophomore.
Last season as a freshman, Horn appeared in all of New Hampshire’s 14 games, starting seven. He amassed 23 solo tackles and 20 assists for 43 total tackles.
“I do what I’ve got to do,” said Horn. “But I don’t have the same role I did in high school. Every guy on this team was me in high school. Everything you can do, you’ve got to bring it up a notch.”
In a rare display of athleticism on the collegiate level, Horn also competed on New Hampshire’s Division One basketball team last season. It’s something he plans on pursuing again this winter.
“It’s something I’m definitely going to do again,” said Horn of basketball. “Both of my coaches are good with it. I’ll go right into it when football is done. Last year, basketball was a learning experience for me. It was the first time I had played in a year-and-a-half and it took some time to get into the groove of things.”
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Evan Horn’s 2018 Defensive Stats
Evan Horn’s Career Statistics at New Hampshire