#13 Chargers Shut Down Merrimack, Earn Big Win, 44-3

Charger Athletics

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. – The nationally ranked No. 13 University of New Haven football team defeated Merrimack College 44-35 Saturday afternoon in a rain-soaked Massachusetts. With the win, the Chargers won their sixth straight game and improved to 8-1 on the season, 6-0 in the Northeast-10 Conference. The Warriors fell to 5-3 overall and 4-2 in the NE-10.

Running back Mike DeCaro (Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay ) led the team with five total touchdowns on 84 yards rushing and 64 yards receiving.

On the opening play from the line of scrimmage, UNH successfully completed a flee-flicker as DeCaro took a handoff and pitched it back to Ryan Oseicki who connected with Jason Thompson (Stuart, Fla./South Fork ) on a 61-yard touchdown pass and catch. The score was unfortunately called back after a holding penalty. The Chargers did not let that hold them back on the opening drive of the first half, however. The Chargers took the ball 61 yards on 10 more plays over the first 4:24 and DeCaro capped the drive with a 13-yard touchdown rush to give the Chargers an early lead. Chris Scifo (Coral Springs, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas / Central Connecticut State University) connected on the extra point to give UNH a 7-0 lead.

Merrimack did not waste any time and immediately answered, going 69-yards on 10 plays and capping the drive with a James Suozzo touchdown rush from three yards out. An extra point evened the score at 7-7 with 6:53 left in the first quarter.

New Haven went three-and-out on its ensuing drive, while the Warriors mounted another scoring drive. Marrimack went another 59 yards on six plays and finished the drive with another Suozzo touchdown run from 14 yards to take a 14-7 lead with 2:25 left in the first quarter.

The Chargers ensuing drive started toward the end of the first quarter, but stretched into the opening minutes of the second quarter. The scoring drive was highlighted by a seven-yard first down rush midway through the drive, by Anthony Tillman (Piscataway, N.J./Piscataway). Scifo later brought the Chargers within four with a 41-yard field goal on fourth-and-11 with 14:06 left in the first half.

Leading 14-10, Merrimack went on another scoring drive, its third of the game. After a 64-yard kickoff return from Quinn McDonnough, the Warriors went 33 yards on seven plays and finished with a three-yard touchdown rush by Joe Clancy with 11:30 left in the half.

The Chargers again went three-and out and Merrimack took over at its own 14-yard line. Merrimack completed one pass before UNH’s Cody Wallace (New Milford, Conn./New Milford ) picked off a Suozzo pass at the Merrimack 30-yard line, giving the Charger offense outstanding field possession with 9:35 left in the second quarter.

The Chargers’ offense took advantage of the short field and went 32-yards on six plays before Osiecki found DeCaro across the middle of the field. The running back made a few defenders miss and scored with 6:44 left. Scifo’s extra point was good once against and the Chargers came within four, 21-17.

On the Warriors’ next drive, they scored a touchdown once again. On the eighth play of a 70-yard drive, Suozzo found Isaiah Voegeli on a 40-yard touchdown bomb. The complete extra point gave the Warriors a 28-17 lead.

The Chargers again went three-and-out before Scifo’s punt gave Merrimack the ball back at its own 47-yard line with 3:21 left. Merrimack mounted a long drive, which included 11-plays and brought the ball to the Chargers’ 32-yard line. On fourth-and-24, the Warriors attempted a 44-yard field goal. Rodney Lanham (Bridgeport, Conn./The Bridge Academy) came up with the big play and blocked the field goal. Desmond Anderson (Jacksonville, Fla./Edward H. White / Becker College) picked up the ball and took it back to the Merrimack 36-yard line. Two plays later, Osiecki found Jason Thompson on another crossing route to give the Chargers a four-point, 28-24, deficit with just eight second remaining in the first half. After a kickoff and Merrimack knee, the Chargers headed to the locker room with a four-point deficit.

Merrimack answered to start the second half and took the opening kickoff 81-yards for a touchdown., improving its lead to 35-24. The Chargers then shutdown the Merrimack offense and did not allow another point for the entire second half.

The teams exchanged a pair of punts, while New Haven took over at its own 40-yard line with 6:49 left in the third quarter. UNH then went 60-yards on seven plays to once against pull within four points. DeCaro scored another touchdown off a four-yard touchdown rush with 2:21 left in the third. Scifo’s extra point brought the score to 34-31.

The Warriors were forced three-and-out, while the Chargers would capitalize again on their next possession. UNH controled possession to conclude the third quarter and for the first 2:30 of the fourth quarter. The Chargers then took a lead on the drive’s fifth play when DeCaro scored another touchdown off a nine-yard rush with 12:33 left on the clock. Scifo’s extra point gave the Chargers a 38-35 lead.

Merrimack’s ensuing possession was halted by great quarterback pressure from Scott Schultz (Wayne, N.J./Wayne Hills / University of Connecticut) on third down and Scott Lowery (Elmwood Park, N.J./Paramus Catholic ) on Merrimack’s fourth down attempt. UNH then look over possession at its own 39-yard line with 10:17 left in the fourth. Their drive would eventually stall at the Warriors 36-yard line when the Warriors forced a punt.

Merrimack again had just four plays before the Chargers forced another punt with 6:21 left in regulation. The Chargers took over at their 36-yard line and mounted an insurance scoring drive. New Haven’s well-managed drive took up 3:36 over the course of seven plays and 64-yards. DeCaro again capped the drive with a three yard touchdown run. Scifo’s kick was unfortunately blocked, but the Chargers held on to a nine-point lead, 44-35.

In the closing minutes, the Warriors could not manage points in their final two drives, while the Chargers came one play from running out the clock on their closing drive.

DeCaro highlighted the game with five total touchdowns. He ran for 84 yards and four touchdowns, caught six passes for 64 yards and one touchdown, and added 124 kickoff return yards on four returns. He totaled 272 all-purpose yards in the win.

Osiecki went 19-for-32 with 239 yards and two touchdowns. Thompson had three catches for 70 yards, while Josh Smart (New Haven, Conn./Hamden ) added four receptions for 39 yards.

Defensively, Bernard Risco (Philadelphia, Pa./James Hillhouse) led the Chargers with 10 tackles, while Tom Herd (Sparta, N.J./Sparta ) and Rob Hill (Suffield, Conn./Suffield / Dean Junior College) both had amazing games from their defensive end positions. Herd tallied six tackles, including two sacks, one sack and two quarterback hurries. Hill made five stops with one tackle-for-loss and one quarterback hurry. Raheem Stanley (Hartford, Conn./Weaver ) added two sacks and one quarterback hurry as well.

New Haven returns to action on Saturday, November 5 when it hosts Pace University on Senior Day and Ralph F. DellaCamera Stadium. Game time is set for 1 p.m. For complete coverage throughout the week, log on to www.NewHavenChargers.com.