Football dominates in front of Homecoming crowd, wins 50-6


Photo courtesy of Tyler Wells

Wide receivers Kasi Hazzard (left) and Dev Holmes (right) celebrate after a touchdown, West Haven, Nov. 5, 2022.

In their final home game of the regular season, the New Haven football team dominated visiting Franklin Pierce University 50-6. With an attendance of 4,202 in the stands, the afternoon was dedicated to growth in the university, both for the athletic department and campus in general.

Following one of the biggest tailgate scenes in recent years, a rambunctious crowd packed into Ralph F. DellaCamera Stadium looking for something to cheer for early. However, an uncharacteristically slow start for the Chargers quieted the fans.

After two short drives from each side resulted in punts, the New Haven defense made the first big play of the afternoon. This came from linebacker Damon Burton Jr., a cornerstone in the defense this season, who grabbed his team-leading fifth interception of the year in the end zone. The ensuing New Haven drive went nowhere though, as the team was once again forced to punt. Punter Luke Silvia made the perfect kick, pinning the Ravens offense on their own five-yard line.

After a pair of runs were stuffed behind the line of scrimmage, Franklin Pierce tried running again on third down. This time, defensive back Khyon Fitzpatrick brought the Ravens’ running back down in the end zone for a safety, putting New Haven up 2-0. The end of the first quarter soon followed, a very quiet period passing by.

After stalled drives from both teams, New Haven quarterback Connor Degenhardt was able to find his most trusted wide receiver, Dev Holmes. First, the two connected on a 15-yard pass to start the drive. Then, after a 10-yard rush from Holmes, Degenhardt found him again over the top of the defense. He made another defender miss and outran everyone else for a 66-yard touchdown. After missing the extra point, New Haven now held an 8-0 advantage.

A couple possessions later, running back Hunter Cobb had a potential touchdown rush called back due to holding. This wouldn’t matter though, as Degenhardt was able to extend the play after a collapsed pocket to find a wide open Zhyaire Fernandes in the end zone for his second passing touchdown on the day.

New Haven’s Zhyaire Fernandes after a catch, West Haven, Nov. 5, 2022. (Photo courtesy of Tyler Rodriguez)

The Chargers would go on to end the half strong, getting the ball back with just over a minute remaining. After a pair of completions, one to Fernandes and another to WR Paul Cooper, Degenhardt once again extended a play to find Cooper in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown. This gave New Haven a 22-0 lead heading into halftime as they were in complete control of the game.

As if that wasn’t enough, the Chargers came out firing in the second half.

WR Terrell Ford broke off a 101-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the third, the longest kick return in school history. After forcing another quick punt, New Haven’s RB Christopher Ais began to get involved, rushing for a total of 45 yards on the drive and helping place the offense at the one-yard line. From here, Degenhardt found red zone threat TE Kevin Foelsch in the end zone for a touchdown.

After a three-and-out from Franklin Pierce, Degenhardt connected with another receiver, this time Kasi Hazzard, for a 29-yard touchdown reception. Just like that, New Haven was up 43-0 with the quarter coming to a close.

Franklin Pierce would finally get on the board at the start of the fourth, cutting into the 43-point deficit, but it was all they would get. Degenhardt went on to find Foelsch again in the end zone, giving him his second touchdown reception of the game. This would be the end of the scoring, as New Haven began to run down the clock and seal a 50-6 victory.

Offensively, the Chargers were led by a career day from Degenhardt in his final home game as a Charger. He passed for 337 yards and six touchdowns, all while registering no interceptions. Ais led all rushers with 66 yards, while a number of receivers had standout games. Holmes led with 115 receiving yards and a touchdown, while Cooper was next with 76 yards and a score of his own. On top of his kick return, Ford had 51 receiving yards, which Foelsch finished with just 15 yards but two touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, linebacker David Onyemem was all over the place, registering nine tackles. DB Devonta Myles had the next most with six tackles, while lineman Mazon Walker tallied five and a sack. Burton Jr. finished with five tackles and an interception as well.

While the win improves New Haven to 7-2 (5-1 NE-10), it isn’t enough for them to win the conference title. After losing to Assumption last week, the Greyhounds clinched the NE-10 championship with their win over Saint Anselm. Now, the Chargers’ last hope of making it into the NCAA playoffs is through an at-large bid, which they sat just outside of the bubble for in the latest regional rankings. If the team can win their final game of the season, and have another team or two ahead of them lose, then there is a good chance that their season will stay alive.

Next week, New Haven concludes their regular season with a trip down the road to Southern Connecticut State as they play the Owls for the second time this year. In their first matchup, back on Sept. 10, New Haven walked away with a 31-26 win. For more information on the upcoming game and any playoff implications, check out