Charger Football Suffers Loss in NCAA Quarterfinals, 27-7

Charger Athletics

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. – The University of New Haven football team, nationally ranked No. 5/11 fell, 27-7 to No. 3/4 Winston-Salem State University Saturday afternoon in the NCAA

Charger Football Suffers Loss in NCAA Quarterfinals, 27-7

Division II Football Championship Quarterfinal Round in North Carolina. With the loss, the Chargers conclude their 2011 season with an 11-2 overall record. The Rams improved to 13-0 overall and advance to the semifinals to take on the winner of Wayne State (Mich.) and Minnesota Duluth.

The Chargers’ offense struggled to get started all day. Quarterback Ryan Osiecki (Seymour, Conn./Seymour / Univ. of Louisville) led the squad with 209 yards on 16-of-32 passing with one touchdown and two interceptions. Running back Mike DeCaro (Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay ) added 74 yards on 15 carries, while Anthony Tillman (Piscataway, N.J./Piscataway) added 40 yards on six carries.

The Chargers won the opening toss and took the ball right out of the gate. After one first down conversion, the Chargers were forced to punt and the Rams took over at their own 31-yard line. WSSU then took the ball 69-yards and capped a nine-play drive with a 48-yard touchdown pass. After a failed extra point, the Chargers trailed 6-0 early in the first half.

New Haven would immediately answer with its own 58-yard touchdown drive. The six play drive was highlighted by a 36-yard touchdown pass and catch from Ryan Osiecki (Seymour, Conn./Seymour / Univ. of Louisville) to Demetrius Washington-Ellison (Rahway, N.J./Rahway / Univ. of Maine). Chris Scifo (Coral Springs, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas / Central Connecticut State University) connected on the extra point and the Chargers took a 7-6 lead with 6:35 left in the first quarter.

Each team struggled offensively in the next two series. The UNH defense stopped the Rams’ offense on back-to-back series, but a mishandled punt reception was recovered by Winston-Salem on the Chargers’ own 21-yard line. After one play, the first quarter came to an end and the Chargers held on to a slight 7-6 lead.

On the first play of the second quarter, Nicholas Cooper roared for a hard-faught, 12-yard touchdown run. The run and extra point put WSSU up 13-7 with 14:49 left in the first half. On the next five series, Neither team could mount a sustained drive. The Chargers best opportunity came with 6:52 left in the first half and starting a drive at their own 15-yard line. After driving all the way to the Rams’ 25-yard line, penalties on UNH brought the ball back to the WSSU 49-yard line. The series halted and Scifo was forced to punt the ball away. The Chargers’ drive went 11-plays and 36-yards over 5:18. The Rams took over, but the UNH defense held strong and forced a 13-7 halftime score.

Out of the half, each team mounted long sustained drives to opened the half. The Rams opened the half with a 13-play and 42-yard drive which took over eight minutes off the clock in the third quarter. The drive was halted, however, by the Charger defense. After putting pressure on the quarterback, Winston-Salem threw an incomplete pass at the UNH 33-yard line to give the Chargers possession after a fourth-down try.

The New Haven offense would answer, with another long-sustained drive over the next six-minutes. The Chargers used 10 plays to go 30 yards, but again were forced to punt after being forced into a fourth-and-29. WSSU took over and ran just two played before the third quarter came to a close. Neither team scored in the third quarter and the score remained 13-7 in favor of the Rams.

Four plays into the fourth quarter and the Rams expanded their lead with a 33-yard touchdown pass at the 14:20 mark of the fourth quarter.With the extra point, the Rams took a 20-7 lead. Two-straight UNH drives came up short before the Rams intercepted an Osiecki pass at their own one-yard line. With just over 3:30 left, the Rams went 99-yards on eight plays, including a long 72-yard run by Cooped, and punched in the final score with just 39-seconds remaining in the fourth.

The Chargers had one final series, which ended with an Osiecki hail mary interception, came up short and the UNH football season came to a close.

The UNH offense struggled most of the day to find its rythem. In total, the Chargers amassed a season-low seven points and a 330 yards.

The Chargers playoff appearance was the first since 1997 and the first since bringing the program back just three years ago. New Haven won its eighth playoff game last week over Kutztown University (Pa.).