No. 7 Chargers Soar Past Hawks, NE-10 Champions

Charger Athletics

MANCHESTER, N.H. – The nationally ranked No. 7 University of New Haven football team defeated Saint Anselm College 59-17 Saturday afternoon at Grappone Stadium. With the win, the Chargers wrap up a perfect Division II and Northeast-10 Conference season with a 10-1 overall record and an 8-0 NE-10 record. New Haven finished with a 10-0 record in Division II as well. The Hawks fell to 1-9 overall and 1-7 in the Northeast-10.

The Chargers threw for 421 yards and ran for another 166 to total 587 offensive yards in the win. UNH’s passing game was led by a stellar performance by quarterback Ryan Osiecki (Seymour, Conn./Seymour / Univ. of Louisville). The Seymour, Conn. native connected on 21-of-30 attempts for 391 yards and five touchdowns with one interception. Osiecki also ran for another touchdown for a total of six on the day. His top receiver was Jason Thompson (Stuart, Fla./South Fork ) that totaled 163 yards and two touchdowns on five catches. Kameel Lashley (Boston, Mass./Boston Comm. Leadership Academy) also enjoyed over 100-yards receiving with 128 yards and two touchdowns on five receptions. Quarterback Ronnie Nelson (Stuart, Fla./South Fork ) led the Chargers’ rushing game with 107 yards on 10 carries, while Mike DeCaro (Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay ) added 36 yards and one touchdown on 10 carries.

Defensively, Desmond Anderson (Jacksonville, Fla./Edward H. White / Becker College) led the Chargers with nine tackles and one interception. J.D. Chalifoux (Mansfield, Mass./Mansfield) added two interceptions and three tackles in the win. Rob Hill (Suffield, Conn./Suffield / Dean Junior College) also played a great game from his defensive end position, totaling two pass breakups and two tackles-for-loss, including one sack. Tom Herd (Sparta, N.J./Sparta ) and Ahmet Baki Basci (Fair Lawn, N.J./Fair Lawn) added two tackles-for-loss as well.

New Haven won the toss and chose to defer to the second half, starting on defense. After forcing the Hawks to got three-and-out, New Haven marched the ball down the field on three plays, including a 42-yard pass and catch from Osiecki to Thompson to open the drive. On the fourth play, the Chargers were on the Saint Anselm eight yard line, but could not punch it in and Chris Scifo (Coral Springs, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas / Central Connecticut State University) came into the game to attempts a field goal. The junior’s 25-yard field goal split the uprights and the Chargers took a 3-0 lead with 12:16 left in the first quarter.

Scifo then booted the ensuing kickoff through the end zone and the Hawks took over at their own 20-yard line. Saint Anselm took the ball 79-yards to the Chargers one-yard line on 13 plays, but could not punch it in the end zone. A 19-yard field was for the Hawks was good and the teams fell into a 3-3 tie with 6:55 left in the first quarter.

On the game’s next possession, DeCaro returned the kickoff 33-yards before being catch by the Hawks kicker at the Saint Anselm 48-yard line. Seven plays later, Osiecki completed his second touchdown of the day off a one-yard quarterback keeper in which he jumped over the top of the pile. With 3:39 left in the first quarter, UNH went up 10-3 after a Scifo extra point.

The Hawks would go three-and-out on their next possession and the Chargers took over with 2:20 left in the first quarter. On New Haven’s fourth play, Saint Anselm’s Shane O’Donnell stepped in front of an Osiecki pass and gave the Hawks possession at their 28-yard line with seconds left in the opening quarter. Saint Anselm again went three-and-out, while a poor punt and a Saint Anselm personal foul gave the Chargers excellent field position at the Hawks’ 46-yard line. New Haven’s first offensive play of the series was a 46-yard touchdown pass and catch from Osiecki to Lashley, giving the Chargers a 17-3 lead after the extra point.

Saint Anselm then answered with its own scoring drive, going 53-yards on nine plays to the UNH three-yard line. The Hawks’ brought the score back within seven when Keith Charles ran for a seven-yard touchdown to make the score 17-10.

DeCaro enjoyed another great return and put the UNH offense on the field at its own 43-yard line with 11 minutes left in the first half. The Chargers brought the ball 57 yards, including a 27-yard rush by Nelson and a 27-yard touchdown pass from Osiecki to Thompson, to go ahead 24-10 with 8:15 left in the opening half. Both teams then went three-and-out before the Chargers regained possession with 4:02 left on the clock. The Chargers went 49-yards to the Saint Anselm two-yard line over the course of three-minutes and 28-seconds. On fourth-and-goal, Scifo attempted a 19-yard field goal which went wide left. The Hawks took over and ran out the clock in the first half. The Chargers led 24-10 at the break and recorded 259 yards of total offense in the first half.

The Chargers went on a very quick scoring spree to open the second half. After a touchback on the opening kickoff, Osiecki connected with Thompson for the second time of the day. The two recorded their longest touchdown of the season, 80-yard, to give the Chargers a 31-10 lead. The Hawks ran one offensive play before New Haven’s Anderson picked off his first pass of the season just seconds later. With great field position at the Hawks’ own 13-yard line, Osiecki then connected with Chris Higgins (Cumberland, Maine/Bridgton Academy ) on a 13-yard touchdown on their first play of the series. The two scores completed 14 points in favor of UNH over the course of the first minute of the second half. The two scores came just 31-second apart and gave the Chargers a commanding 38-10 lead with 14:07 left in the third.

Both teams exchanged possession for the remainder of the third quarter as the Chargers held on to a 28-point lead after three. On the first series of the fourth quarter New Haven controlled the clock and went 72-yard on 11 plays over the course of over six minutes. DeCaro then ran for a 12-yard touchdown to put the Chargers up even further. Scifo’s extra point once again was good and UNH took a 45-10 lead.

The Hawks then took the ball 85-yards on 10 plays. Saint Anselm’s Marc Wilson caught a touchdown pass from Michael Pierce from 11-yards out with 8:20 remaining to bring the score to 45-17.

Down the stretch in the fourth quarter, Osiecki would connect with Lashley on a 24-yard touchdown pass and catch to give the Chargers a 52-17 lead. Chalifoux intercepted his second pass of the game and set up another scoring drive for UNH. On their last drive of the game, Brian Alston (Robbinsville, N.J./Robbinsville) controlled the running game and eventually found the end zone on a five-yard touchdown run with 1:39 left in the fourth quarter. Saint Anselm took over and the clock ran out on the regular season.

The Chargers, ranked No. 1 in the most recent NCAA Division II Super Region One Rankings, will wait for its postseason bid which will officially be released by the NCAA Division II Football Championship committee in the selection show on Sunday, November 13 at 5 p.m. For complete coverage, including a link to the selection show, stay posted to www.NewHavenChargers.com.