Story and photo courtesy of New Haven Athletics
WEST HAVEN, Conn.
- The No. 5 nationally ranked University of New Haven football team advanced to the NCAA Quarterfinals with a 44-37 win over No. 6 Kutztown University in an offensive showdown on Saturday afternoon at DellaCamera Stadium. The Chargers tallied 538 yards of total offense behind the stellar play of Ryan Osiecki (Seymour, Conn./Seymour / Univ. of Louisville) and Jason Thompson (Stuart, Fla./South Fork ). The two connected on four touchdowns as Osiecki threw for 433 yards on 23-of-31 passing with five touchdowns while Thompson hauled in four touchdowns with 214 yards on six catches.
The Chargers are the No. 2 seed in the NCAA Super Region One and improved to 11-1 on the season. Kutztown was the No. 3 seed and concludes the 2011 season with an overall mark of 11-2. UNH advances to take on Winston-Salem State University in the NCAA quarterfinals next Saturday.
Kutztown received the ball first after New Haven won the toss and deferred to the second half. After the opening kickoff went out-of-bounds, the Golden Bears gained possession at their own 40-yard line. Nine plays later, they capped off a 3:27 drive with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Mashall Vogel to Josh Mastromatto.
On New Haven's next two possessions, the Chargers drove to the goal line but couldn't find the endzone. Instead they settled for 23- and 21-yard field goals to cut the deficit to one with 4:08 remaining in the first quarter.
The Chargers began the second quarter with the ball and took advantage. After completions to Josh Smart (New Haven, Conn./Hamden ) and Kameel Lashley (Boston, Mass./Boston Comm. Leadership Academy) on the drive, Osiecki finished the possession with a 43-yard touchdown pass to Thompson as New Haven went ahead, 13-7.
The two teams exchanged scores all throughout the first half. Kutztown scored on another touchdown pass from Vogel to reclaim the lead before Osiecki and Thompson connected on a five-yard score with 4:55 remaining in the half to take a 20-14 lead.
The Golden Bears regained possession and began the drive with several rushes by Robbie Frey and Josh Mastromatto. After success on the ground, Kutztown went back to the air and eventually scored on a six-yard pass to Colby Tuell as they went up 21-20 with 17 seconds remaining and a sure lead heading into the break.
However, the Chargers retaliated and with their drive starting at the New Haven 38-yard line, Osiecki completed consecutive passes to Thompson and Smart for 12 and six yards to set up a hail mary opportunity. With four seconds remaining and the ball at the Kutztown 44-yard line, Osiecki threw the ball to the back of the endzone as Thompson pulled it down with several Golden Bears opponents surrounding him. The score marked his third touchdown of the half and after a failed two-point conversion, New Haven took a 26-21 lead at halftime with the momentum in their favor.
After an offensive showdown from both teams in the first half, the third quarter featured an entirely different game as both defenses stepped up. The Chargers received the ball but had to punt for the first time in the game. Kutztown regained possession at the New Haven 44-yard line. Eight-plays later, Mastromatto scored on a 34-yard pass to give the Golden Bears a two-point advantage, 28-26.
After a scoreless third quarter for New Haven, Kutztown added to their lead on a 19-yard field goal. Despite giving up three points, the Chargers defense held strong and stopped the Golden Bears at New Haven's own two-yard line.
Trailing by five with 12 minutes to go, New Haven began their next drive at their own 29-yard line. After a nine-yard pass to Anthony Tillman (Piscataway, N.J./Piscataway), the Chargers were faced with a third-and-two. Osiecki found Smart for a 13-yard reception to keep the drive going and two plays later, Mike DeCaro (Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay ) juked several defenders on his way to a 45-yard score after catching a short pass from Osiecki.
After Raheem Stanley (Hartford, Conn./Weaver ) sacked Vogel on third-and-10, the Chargers got the ball back after a quick three-and-out. On the first play of the possession, Osiecki found Thompson down the middle of the field on a play-action that resulted in the eventual game-winning touchdown as Thompson ran 64-yards untouched into the endzone.
J.D. Chalifoux (Mansfield, Mass./Mansfield) picked off Vogel seven plays later as New Haven was well on its way of advancing to the NCAA Quarterfinals. They added another field goal and Kutztown scored a touchdown with one second to play as the Chargers won, 44-37.
Thompson's career game featured 214 yards on six catches and four touchdowns. Osiecki was 23-of-31 for 433 yards, five touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also rushed for 38 yards on six carries with a long of 15 yards. Kicker Chris Scifo (Coral Springs, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas / Central Connecticut State University) was also a perfect 3-for-3 with kicks from 23, 21 and 19-yards out.
Defensively, Desmond Anderson (Jacksonville, Fla./Edward H. White / Becker College) and Mike Gomes (Brockton, Mass./Brockton ) each had a game-high of 12 tackles. Anderson also recorded an interception and broke-up two passes. Robert Hill (Suffield, Conn./Suffield / Dean Junior College) was a force on the defensive line. He had three tackles-for-loss including two sackes. Charlie Hatchet (Bridgeport, Conn./Stratford / Santa Monica College) also picked off Vogel and added six tackles.
New Haven will now face the No.1 seeded Winston-Salem State in Winston-Salem, N.C. on Saturday, December 3 in the NCAA Quarterfinal Round. The Rams are ranked No. 3 nationally and are coming off a 35-28 win over fifth-seeded California (Pa.). Complete game details will be made available on Monday, November 28.