Chargers Start Season with 34-17 Victory Over Seton Hill

Andy Beardsley

GREENSBURG, Pa. – The University of New Haven defeated Seton Hill University 34-17 Saturday afternoon in its 2010 season opener. With the win the Chargers improve to 30-11 all-time in season openers, while the Griffins fall to 1-1 this season.

The Chargers were led by a solid passing game and timely defensive stops in the opener. Quarterback Ryan Osiecki threw for 301 yards and four touchdowns on 21-of-38 passing. His favorite receiver, Sharieff Hall finished with 118 yards and two touchdowns. Defensively, Desmond Anderson led the Chargers with three interceptions, 119 return yards and six tackles.

The Chargers won the toss and chose to receive the ball in their season opener. After a return of 34 yards from Hall, who had impressive returns all afternoon, a holding penalty on the kickoff moved the Chargers spot to the 33-yard line. After one first down, the Chargers no-huddle offense was halted. Chris Scifo’s ensuing punt pinned the Griffins deep, at their own five-yard line. The Griffins answered with their own no-huddle offense and amassed a seven-play 44-yard drive which stalled at their own 49-yard line.

The Chargers’ offense went back to work from their own 25-yard line and mounted their first scoring drive of the game. UNH quarterback Ryan Osiecki connected with Hall five consecutive times on the drive, including a 46-yard touchdown pass with 8:03 remaining in the first quarter.

Seton Hill answered with a nine-play, 43-yard drive to the UNH seven-yard line. The Griffins cut the UNH lead to 7-3 with a 24-yard field goal with 5:07 on the clock.

On the Griffins next kickoff, Hall took the return 67 yards to the Seton Hill 19-yard line. After back-to-back penalties, the Chargers found themselves in a third-and-33. Osiecki then connected with Jason Thompson for a 41-yard gain and a first-and-goal on the Seton Hill one-yard line. Victor Jones finished the drive with a one-yard touchdown run. Scifo’s extra point gave the Chargers a 14-3 lead.

New Haven forced the Griffins three-and-out on the next drive prior to regaining possession before the first quarter concluded.

After two passes fell incomplete and the Chargers punted the ball away with 13:45 left in the first half. The Griffins then moved the ball 61-yards to the Chargers 28-yard line before the UNH defense forced a turnover on downs with 9:26 remaining. New haven then went three-and-out again, while Seton Hill put together a five-play drive that went just 17-yards and completed on an incomplete fourth-down pass.

The Chargers then responded with a five-play, 58-yard drive, highlighted by a 35-yard pass completion from Osiecki to Kameel Lashley which gave the team a first-and-goal from the eight-yard line. Osiecki completed the drive with a four-yard pass to freshman tight end Chris Higgins. Another successful point-after gave UNH a 21-3 lead with 3:29 left in the first half.

The Griffins mounted a promising drive in the final minutes of the first half, but Desmond Anderson ended the 10-play, 40-yard drive with an interception at the Chargers 26-yard line.

UNH went three-and-out before the Griffins regained the ball at their own 28-yard line. The first play of the Griffins drive, was halted when linebacker Charlie Hatchett forced the second turnover of the half. Hatchett forced a fumble at the Seton Hill 23-yard line, while Rob Hill recovered the fumble and returned it to the Seton Hill 12-yard line.

The Chargers, looking to go up 28-3 before the half, saw the ball go right back to the Griffins as they intercepted a pass at their own three-yard line and returned it 95 yards to the UNH two-yard line. SHU then cut the score to 21-10 with 28-seconds remaining in the half off a two-yard sprint and point after.

Seton Hill opened the second half with a three-and-out, while the Chargers first series ended in a fumble by Osiecki on the fourth play. A holding penalty on first down put the Griffins into a first-and-18, while Rob Hill pushed them back even further when he registered his first sack of the season. After another holding penalty, the Griffins faced second-and-35. They gained 24 yards back, but punted away for the second time of the half.

New Haven then mounted their largest drive of the game, a 12-play, 80-yard drive midway through the third quarter. Split evenly between the run and pass, the drive stayed alive on a 13-yard pass completion on a fourth-and-four pass from Osiecki to Lashley. Two plays later, with 2:44 left in the third quarter, the two connected again for a 14-yard touchdown pass and catch.

The Griffins next drive didn’t last very long as Anderson grabbed his second interception and gave UNH the ball back on the Seton Hill 45-yard line. New Haven turned the ball over on downs four plays later as the fourth quarter just got underway.

SHU gained possession on its own 37-yard line and pushed for a comeback with an impressive 15-play, 63-yard drive which was capped by a five-yard touchdown pass with 7:57 left in the fourth quarter. After the extra point, UNH led by 10, 27-17.

The Chargers ensuing drive ended eight plays in with a blocked by which was returned to the UNH nine-yard line. The Griffins ran for three yards and brought up second-and-goal from the six. Anderson then stepped in front of his third pass of the day and returned it 93 yards to the SHU seven-yard line. Three plays later Osiecki connected with Hall for the second time of the day and gave UNH a 35-17 lead with 1:58 remaining.

In the game’s final two drives, neither team mounted a threat and the Chargers sealed the victory.

In all, New Haven finished with 328 yards of total offense, while the defense held the Griffins to 322 yards of total offense. The Charger passing game flourished, with 311 yards, while the UNH rushing attack struggled to get started with 17 net yards. The Chargers were also penalty ridden with 12 flags for 135 yards. Behind the legs of Hall, New Haven’s return game was also very successful with 335 return yards. Time of possession was split nearly right down the center, but the Chargers held a slight edge, 30:23 to 29:37.

Demetrius Washington-Ellison, Lashley and Jason Thompson, along with Hall, all tallied over 50 yards receiving on the day. Lashley finished with 71, while Washington-Ellison added 57 yards. Hall amassed 260 all-purpose yards, 118 receiving and 142 return yards. Victor Jones led the rushing game with 15 net yards, while Ronnie Nelson, who came in for a couple option plays, finished with 12 yards.

Defensively, newcomer Charlie Hatchett anchored the linebackers with 12 total tackles, including 10 solo stops. Akaki Ramishvili added 10 tackles and Anderson added six stops.

Chidozium Ezemma also grabbed a team-high second sacks.

The Chargers return to action on Saturday, September 11 when they host Lincoln University (Pa.) at DellaCamera Stadium. Game time in West Haven is set for 1 p.m. The game is also the Harmony Classic game, for more information, log on to www.NewHavenChargers.com/HarmonyClassic.