Chargers Win NCAA Playoff Thriller


Courtesy of One More Shot Photography/ Charger Athletics

Chris DiGeronimo, Sports Editor

New Haven returned to the NCAA playoffs for the first time in six seasons, and they arrived with a vengeance by defeating three-seeded West Chester in a 35-28 shootout on Saturday.

After a 17-13 loss in the NE-10 Championship to LIU Post last weekend, the Chargers came out to prove that loss was a fluke.

The pre-game predictions had this game billed as something out of the old west, and neither offenses disappointed. The action got underway in the first quarter as West Chester quarterback, A.J. Long, completed a 24-yard pass for a touchdown, giving the Golden Rams an early lead.

New Haven responded with a long drive that resulted in a touchdown pass by quarterback Ajee Patterson to senior Jonathan Badyna to tie the game at 7-7. Before the Chargers could blink, West Chester was in the red zone again. After two false start penalties by the Golden Rams, they were able to score again on a 12-yard pass from Long to regain the lead 14-7.

The Chargers started their third drive of the game with a balanced attack. Junior, Ryan McCarthy, was able to break off a 27-yard run, while senior, Chris Liggio, followed that with a 19-yard gain to help the Chargers get closer to the equalizer. After two more short runs by Liggio, Patterson took the ball and completed a pass to Jake Lareau for an eight- yard touchdown to tie it all up at 14. After a three and out by West Chester, the Chargers got the ball back and capitalized on a one-yard touchdown run by Patterson to take the lead 21-14 going into the half.  

The third quarter seemed to be the turning point for West Chester, as they scored 14 unanswered points on a New Haven defense that had only given up one rushing yard in the first half. West Chester gashed the Chargers on the ground for 85 yards giving them a 28-21 lead going into the fourth quarter.

The Chargers got the ball to start the final quarter. After four completions for 42 yards, the Chargers were faced with a fourth and three on the 48-yard line. Patterson dropped back and found graduate student Ju’an Williams, who burned the West Chester defense for a 48-yard touchdown to even things at 28-28.

The Chargers defense then forced the Golden Rams to punt with 7:58 to play. Patterson again led the Chargers downfield both through the air and on the ground. The West Chester defense had no answer for the savvy QB, and he took full advantage. After a 33-yard pass to sophomore Brett Huber, New Haven was in striking distance. Patterson got the ball to the one-yard line and ran it in for his third touchdown of the game, giving the Chargers a 35-28 lead, which sealed the victory.

“I think the win shows a tremendous amount of heart and soul in our kids,” said head coach,Chris Pincince. “They had many points last week where they could have been down and upset but they did what I asked and always stayed in it, I couldn’t be prouder.”  

The Chargers will advance to the NCAA DII Football Championship Second Round, and take on Slippery Rock on Saturday, Nov. 24 at DellaCamera Stadium.