Football Hits Stride in 49-28 Victory at Stonehill

Andy Beardsley

EASTON, Mass. – The University of New Haven football team looked impressive Saturdayu afternoon in a 49-28 victory over Stonehill College at W.B. Mason Stadium in Massachusetts. With the win the Chargers improve to 4-1 overall and 2-1 in the Northeast-10 Conference, Stonehill falls to 2-3 overall and 0-3 in conference play.
Another stellar performance from the UNH running game pushed the Chargers to another NE-10 win. UNH ran for 331 yards, their first 300-yard rushing game in two years and held the Skyhawks to just 78 rushing yards.

After going three-and-out on their opening possession, the Charger defense then gave up a Skyhawk touchdown-drive with was capped by a fourth down quarterback keeper for the score.

On New Haven’s kickoff return, a mishandled handoff exchange resulted in the Skyhawks recovering at the UNH 13 yard-line. One play later the Skyhawks took a 13-0 lead with just over 9-minutes left in the first quarter. The point after gave the Skyhawks a 14-0 lead.

New Haven answered with a 75-yard touchdown drive, highlighted by a number of running plays by Mike DeCaro (Weston, Fla., Cypress Bay ). His counterpart,Victor Jones (Paterson, N.J., Passaic County Tech) capped the drive with a 3-yard touchdown run. Chris Scifo (Coral Springs, Fla., St. Thomas Aquinas / Central Connecticut State University) split the uprights and brought the Chargers within seven.

The Skyhawks were then forced to go three-and-out asRobert Hill (Suffield, Conn., Suffield / Dean Junior College) made a big sack on third down. The Chargers regained possession on their own 29-yard line and put another good drive together. Ryan Osiecki (Seymour, Conn., Seymour / Univ. of Louisville)and Jason Thompson (Stuart, Fla., South Fork ) capped an eight-play touchdown drive which took 4-minutes and 28-seconds. Osiecki found Thompson in the back of the endzone on the end of a 28-yard pass. Scifo’s extra point tied the score at 14-14

New Haven’s defense shutdown the Skyhawks once again as the Chargers’ offense continued running on all cylinders for the remainder of the first half. UNH scored another 21 unanswered points in the second quarter.

Osiecki completed a touchdown pass to Scott Schultz (Wayne, N.J., Wayne Hills / University of Connecticut), in the game at tight end, with 8:35 left in the first half to give the Chargers a 20-14 lead. Another Chris Scifo extra point gave the Chargers a seven-point lead.

The UNH defense allowed two first downs before Akaki Ramishvili (Fair Lawn, N.J., Fair Lawn ) forced a Stonehill fumble inside the Chargers territory. Alex Dyer (Westbrook, Conn., Westbrook) fell on the loose ball and gave the Chargers the ball back with 5:07 left in the half. The Charger offense then took the ball the length of the field before DeCaro capped the drive with a 21-yard burst for a touchdown with 2:45 left in the half.

The Skyhawks then mounted a drive from their own 22- yard line. After gaining a pair of first downs, the Skyhawks mishandled a shotgun snap and put the ball on the turf. Schultz recovered the ball and gave the Chargers another chance to score prior to halftime.

New Haven’s drive would start on the Stonehill 45-yard line with 1:20 left in the half. UNH strung another five plays together for 45-yards and another seven points. Osiecki connected with Thompson on the touchdown pass for 17-yards in the final seconds.

The Chargers were led by Jones and DeCaro in the first half who both recorded over 60-yards in the first half. Osiecki completed 11 passed for 133 yards and three touchdowns in the first half. Ramishvili led the UNH defense with six total tackles in the first half.

The Skyhawks immediate answered with a 94-yard kickoff return to open the second half and cut the Chargers lead to 35-21 just 12-seconds into the second half.

After going three-and-out on their first drive of the second half, New Haven punted the ball inside the Skyhawks 1-yard line. Six plays later, the UNH defense once again gave the offense a short field, forcing a fumble on the Stonehill 26-yard line. Richard Long (New Rochelle, N.Y., New Rochelle / Iona College) recovered the fumble which stopped a 7-play, 25-yard Stonehill drive.

Four plays later, DeCaro crossed into the endzone and put the Chargers up 41-21. Scifo’s point after made it 42-21.

The Skyhawks then tried to mount a comeback, but the stiff UNH defense forced a punt after six plays. New Haven then took over on their owe 38-yard line and put together another scoring drive. A long 10-play drive was sealed with a 28-yard touchdown run by Jones with 2:25 remaining in the third quarter. Scifo once again connected on the point after and put the Chargers up 49-21.

Stonehill was forced three-and-out on their next drive as the Charger regained possession on their own 40-yard line just before the end of the third quarter. The Chargers, who had subbed in a number of second string players, went 44-yards on nine plays before coming upon a fourth-and-one. Freshman Anthony Tillman rushed the ball for just under one-yard and the Chargers gave the ball up for just the second time in the second half.

The Skyhawks put together their only second-half scoring drive with 10:14 left in the fourth quarter. Stonehill took the ball 84-yards on 16-plays for a 3-yard touchdown pass with 3:46 left in the game. Stonehill connected on the point after and moved the score to 49-28. The Charger then took over possession and sealed the game with one first down in the final minutes of the fourth quarter.

Jones finished the game with 133 yards and two touchdowns on 14 carries, averaging 9.5 yards per carry. DeCaro added 104 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries, combining for two 100-yard rushers for the first time since the Chargers returned to the field prior to 2009. In all, UNH rushed for 331 yards on 47 carries for an average of 7-yards per carry. Osiecki passed for 144 yards and three touchdowns and ran for another 49 yards on six carries. Freshman Anthony Tillman also saw time in the backfield with 37 yards on eight carries.

Thompson finished with 82 yards and two touchdowns on five catches, with DeCaro added 23 receiving yards on two catches.

Defensively, Ramishvili led the Chargers with 12 total tackles. He also recorded a forced fumble and two tackles-for-loss. Chidoziem Ezemma (Pomona, N.Y., Ramapo Senior ) added seven tackles, including one tackle-for-loss. Rob Hill also had impressive numbers with a sack, two tackles-for-loss and one pass breakup. Along with his first career touchdown catch, Schultz recorded four tackles, three solo stops and one fumble recovery.

The Chargers return to action on Saturday, October 9 when they host cross-town rival Southern Connecticut State University in a Northeast-10 Conference showdown at DellaCamera Stadium. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m.