Story and photo courtesy of New Haven Athletics
WEST HAVEN, Conn. - The Chargers scored the game's final 35 points to lead the nationally ranked No. 3/7 University of New Haven football team to a 48-9 victory over Southern Connecticut State University and retained the Elm City Trophy for the third-straight season. In front of a record 5,407 fans at Ralph F. DellaCamera Stadium, the Chargers homecoming win propelled them to 8-0 overall and 7-0 in the Northeast-10 Conference. The Owls dropped to 2-7 overall and 2-5 in conference play.
New Haven turned a 13-9 lead with just under 10 minutes to go in the first half into a 27-9 halftime lead with back-to-back touchdown strikes from Ryan Osiecki (Seymour, Conn./Seymour / Univ. of Louisville). The Chargers then scored three second half touchdowns and held the Owls scoreless to secure the 39-point victory.
The Chargers won the toss and chose to defer to the second half, putting their defense on the field first. UNH halted the drive after eight plays and 42 yards. Both teams punted against before the Chargers recorded the first of three blocked kicks in the game. Matt Stevko (Shelton, Conn./Shelton ) got his hands on the ball, while Justen Wilson (Hamden, Conn./Hyde Leadership) recovered at SCSU's 28-yard line. The Chargers then used five plays and 1:38 before Ronnie Nelson (Stuart, Fla./South Fork ) found wide open Kameel Lashley (Boston, Mass./Boston Comm. Leadership Academy) in the endzone. The Chargers extra point was good and UNH led 7-0 with five minutes left in the first quarter.
Southern Connecticut gained possession at its own 22-yard line and went 63 yards on 13 plays, taking nearly six minutes off the clock into the second quarter. Devin Silverman lined up for a 32-yard field goal on fourth-and-six and split the uprights, bringing the scored to 7-3 in favor of New Haven.
Mike DeCaro (Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay ) took the ensuing kickoff 45 yards to the 50-yard line, setting the UNH offense up in great field position yet again. Four plays later, Anthony Tillman (Piscataway, N.J./Piscataway) rumbled 21 yards for another UNH touchdown. New Haven two-point conversion attempt failed and it held on to a 10-point lead with 12:33 left in the first half. The Owls answered with a six-play 73-yard drive, capped by a 17 yard touchdown run by Dequane June with 9:42 left. After calling a timeout, SCSU's extra point was blocked by J.D. Chalifoux (Mansfield, Mass./Mansfield) and the score remained 13-9.
The Chargers immediately scored again, on the second play of their drive, with a 43-yard pass and catch from Osiecki to Jason Thompson (Indiantown, Fla./South Fork ). The clock just moved under nine minutes and UNH opened a 20-9 advantage. Both teams struggled on their next drives, punting after back-to-back three-and-outs.
With 5:02 left in the first half, Southern Connecticut took over at its own 10-yard line after an Anthony Greenfield (Bloomfield, N.J./Paramus Catholic / Wagner) punt pinned it deep in Owls territory. The Owls again sustained a long 12-play, 42-yard drive with took up 4:28 of game clock. SCSU elected to go for it on fourth-and-eight and Jacob Jablonski was sacked in the backfield by defensive lineman Brent MacLeod (Winchester, Mass./Winchester). The Chargers took over at their own 48-yard line with 35 seconds left in the half. After two-quick completions to Chris Ruffin (New York, N.Y./Phillip Randolph) and one out-of-bounds to Nick Music (West Milford, N.J./West Milford ), Osiecki went 17 yards to Demetrius Washington-Ellison (Rahway, N.J./Rahway / Univ. of Maine) for another touchdown. Chris Scifo (Coral Springs, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas / Central Connecticut State University) drilled another extra point and the Chargers carried a 27-9 lead into halftime.
New Haven opened the second half with the ball and went 25 yards before the Owls intercepted an Osiecki pass at their own 34-yard line. SCSU then went 47 yards on six plays, including a 39-yard pass and catch from Michael Eckrote to Jayson Holt. Silverman lined up for a 36-yard field goal and the kick was short. The Chargers took over, but couldn't get started and punted on fourth-and-22.
Southern Connecticut's next series was just four plays and on fourth-and-13, the Owls lined up to punt. Off the left side of the formation, Rodney Lanham (Bridgeport, Conn./Bridge Academy) broke through the line and blocked the third kick of the day. Lanham continued to chase down the ball before scooping and scoring on a 20-yard return. After the Scifo extra point, the Chargers led 34-9 with 5:34 left in the third.
The teams again exchanged punts as the third quarter came to an end. New Haven took over once again with 14:53 left in the fourth quarter at its own 42-yard line. After a sack on first down, Osiecki completed two passes and DeCaro carried the ball for three yards. Osiecki's third completion of the series went to a streaking Thompson and then found the endzone. Another Scifo extra point and New Haven opened a 32-point lead with 12:04 left in the game.
Both offenses struggled on two series and the Chargers once again took over with 5:38 left in the fourth. Tillman took back-to-back carries for seven yards and brought up third-and-three for UNH. Quarterback Ronnie Nelson (Stuart, Fla./South Fork ) then completed a 58-yard pass and catch to Chris Ruffin (New York, N.Y./Phillip Randolph). The score proved to be the final of the game and UNH defeated cross-town rival SCSU 48-9. The Owls took the next drive, through the end of the game, 57-yards on nine plays, including three 10-plus rushing plays by Vaughn Magee.
For the first time this season, the Chargers gave up over 100 yards rushing, surrendering 171 to the Owls on 53 carries. New Haven amassed 100 yards on the ground and 281 through the air. The Chargers completed 21-of-28 passes with one interception and five touchdowns.
Osiecki led the statistical sheets with 222 yards and three touchdowns on 17-of-23 passing. Nelson added 59 yards and two touchdowns on 4-of-5 passing. The Stuart, Fla. native also chipped in with 22 rushing yards in the win. Tillman anchored the New Haven rushing attack with 39 yards and one score, while six receivers registered multiple catches in the win. Ruffin finished with fourth catches for 89 yards and one score, Washington-Ellison also recorded fourth receptions with 33 yards and a score, while Thompson caught two for 89 yards and two touchdowns.
Defensively, Richard Long (New Rochelle, N.Y./New Rochelle / Iona College) anchored the Chargers with nine total tackles, including 1.5 tackles-for-loss. Raheem Stanley (Hartford, Conn./Weaver ) added eight tackles, while MacLeod led the team with two sacks.
The nationally ranked Chargers, who have already clinched a spot in the Northeast-10 Conference Championship game, conclude the 2012 regular season on Saturday, November 3 at American International College. Kickoff in Springfield, Mass. is set for 1 p.m. Saturday's game against the Yellow Jackets, who have also clinched a spot in the NE-10 Championship game, will determine the host for the November 10 Championship game. Stay posted to www.NewHavenChargers.com throughout the week for complete coverage.