Use the term heroic to describe a football player’s actions and most people will think of on-field exploits, like a 60-plus-yard touchdown pass in the waning seconds of the fourth quarter or a punt return run from one end zone to the other. In April, however, four UNH football players served up heroics in a more traditional sense when they came to the aid of New Hampshire state trooper Michelle Montville, who had been assaulted by a driver on whom she was performing a field sobriety test.
Noah Robison ’19, Ismail Asongwed ’19, Quinlen Dean ’19 and Isiah Perkins ’19 were driving down Main Street on a Friday evening in early April when they saw an interaction that didn’t quite add up. As Robinson watched, Montville stumbled backwards and the man she had detained took off running: as she attempted to arrest him, he had punched her in the face and fled for the woods. “I didn’t even believe what I saw at first,” says Robinson. “I saw him take off and she was running after him, but we could tell she was hurting. Immediately it was, ‘we’ve got to turn around and see if she’s all right and see if we can help her out.’”
By the time the quartet got to Montville the suspect was deep in the woods, but they stayed with her until additional officers arrived and submitted statements on what they had witnessed.
Montville’s assailant was apprehended the following morning, but the news of her good samaritans’ involvement took a little longer to come out. UNH President Mark Huddleston first heard the story about a week after it happened, from UNH Chief of Police Paul Dean — who himself heard it from the state police.
“I got a message from Chief Dean, saying that four of our athletes actually stopped their car and got out to help this trooper in distress,” Huddleston recalls. “Fortunately for [the suspect] they didn’t catch him.”
Head football coach Sean McDonnell ’78 was unsurprised both by his players’ actions and their modesty about them. “It’s what they learn on and off the field, not just here but from high school, and I think it’s from their upbringing,” he says. “There was a police officer in harm’s way and they did the right thing and stopped.”
Originally published in UNH Magazine Fall 2016 Issue