Story and photo courtesy of New Haven Athletics
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. – For the first time since 1995 and the fifth time in program history, the University of New Haven football team completed an undefeated regular season with a 37-6 victory over American International College on Saturday afternoon. Quarterback Ryan Osiecki (Seymour, Conn./Seymour / Univ. of Louisville) led the team with 259 yards and one touchdown on 21-of-27 passing. The senior also led the squad with 60 rushing yards and another rushing touchdown.
The nationally ranked #3/6 New Haven improved to 9-0 overall and finished the conference schedule undefeated for the second-straight year at 8-0. American International dropped to 7-2 overall and 7-1 in the Northeast-10 Conference. The win means UNH will host the first-ever NE-10 Championship game next Saturday, Nov. 10 at Ralph F. DellaCamera Stadium. Game time in West Haven, Conn. is set for 12 p.m.
The Chargers won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, giving the Yellow Jackets the first possession of the game. AIC took the ball 57 yards on seven plays all the way inside the New Haven red zone. On fourth-and-14, the Yellow Jackets lined up for a 41-yard field goal which was blocked and eventually recovered by defensive lineman Alex Dyer (Westbrook, Conn./Westbrook). The Chargers first drive went 74 yards on six plays over the course of two and a half minutes. Mike DeCaro (Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay ) capped the drive with a three-yard touchdown carry. Chris Scifo (Coral Springs, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas / Central Connecticut State University) connected on the extra point to give the Chargers an early 7-0 lead.
After a Yellow Jacket three-and-out, the Chargers wasted no time getting on the scoreboard again. On the third play from the scrimmage, Victor Jones (Paterson, N.J./Passaic County Tech) broke through the left side of the Chargers’ offensive line and rumbled 12 yards into the endzone. The drive included a 34-yard carry by Ryan Osiecki (Seymour, Conn./Seymour / Univ. of Louisville), setting up the Chargers’ second score. Scifo again split the uprights and gave UNH and early 14-0 lead with 5:59 left in the first quarter.
AIC’s next drive started at its own 25-yard line with 5:59 left in the first quarter. The Yellow Jackets then marched 66 yards on nine plays and lined up for a 26-yard field goal on fourth-and-goal with 2:21 on the clock. The Chargers next drive started at their own 20-yard line and concluded with a five-yard touchdown carry by Osiecki with 13:49 left in the second quarter. The two-point attempt by the Chargers failed and UNH led 20-0.
The Yellow Jackets next series was stopped after four plays and New Haven took over at its own 30-yard line with 11:39 left in the second. Just seven plays later Osiecki found Jason Thompson (Indiantown, Fla./South Fork ) on a post pattern for an 18-yard touchdown pass and catch with 7:52 left in the second quarter. With Scifo’s extra point, New Haven led 27-0 and it carried the large advantage into halftime.
Three scores highlighted the second half. On New Haven’s second series of the half, Scifo connected from 21-yards out on fourth-and-goal to give the Chargers a 30-0 lead. American International’s next series was their only scoring drive of the game. The Yellow Jackets went 74 yards on six plays to score a 19-yard touchdown pass from Kevin Arduino to Stephan Benjamin, cutting New Haven’s lead to 30-6. The two-point attempt failed and UNH led by 24 points.
The Chargers and Yellow Jackets exchanged punts before UNH once again gained possession at the AIC 39-yard line. After a personal foul penalty on AIC, the Chargers ran three plays before DeCaro went seven yards for another touchdown. Scifo’s extra point again was good and New Haven sealed the 37-6 victory in Springfield.
In the final minutes, AIC was forced into another punting situation and the Chargers ran the clock out in the final two minutes with four-straight carries from Justen Wilson (Hamden, Conn./Hyde Leadership).
As a team, the Chargers ran for 196 yards on 32 carries, while passing for 259 yards. Nine receivers tallied receptions in the game, including six with multiple catches. Thompson and Chris Ruffin (New York, N.Y./Phillip Randolph) both led the team with four catches, while Thompson catch the only touchdown pass in the game. After Osiecki, DeCaro and Victor Jones (Paterson, N.J./Passaic County Tech) both chipped in with 52 rushing yards. DeCaro scored twice on eight carries, while Jones scored once on six carries.
Defensively, Jaylen Johnson (Linden, N.J./Linden) led the team with 11 total tackles, including five solo. Richard Long (New Rochelle, N.Y./New Rochelle / Iona College) added eight tackles, while Herbens Antenor (Malden, Mass./Malden) added seven and two pass breakups. Dyer added two tackles and a half sack to his daily totals.
The inaugural NE-10 Championship game will be played at DellaCamera Stadium next week. Kickoff will be set for 12 p.m. Stay posted throughout the week to www.NewHavenChargers.com and www.Northeast10.org for complete coverage leading up to the showdown in West Haven.