UNH Football Falls on Slippery Rock

Quentin Walker

The University of New Haven Chargers went in ready for their week one game against number eleven ranked team in the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA), Slippery Rock University.

The Chargers, coming off a 7-4 record last season and a heartbreaking loss to the Assumption Greyhounds in the NE-10 Conference Championship game, looked to improve upon last year’s season and start off with a win in their week one contest.

This year, head coach Chris Pincince looks to make a run with his Chargers deep into the NCAA postseason, something that the Chargers have not accomplished since 2012. The Chargers made it to the first round, but met an untimely end to their season at the hands of the Indiana University (PA.) (IUP) Hawks by a score of 17-14.

UNH seemed to be a little bit of an underdog coming into this weekend unranked in the AFCA, and considering that last year’s matchup against The Rock did not end so well for them, losing by a score of 39-13 in week one of the Chargers’ 2015 campaign.

Going into the game, #11 Slippery Rock seemed just as charged up as the Chargers, with constant updates to their social media pages about the game. This energy definitely showed for The Rock, as they jumped out to an early 7-0 lead off a Drew Scales end around, that went for 21 yards and a touchdown. Just when it seemed like UNH had nothing, but a 7-0 deficit to worry about, the Chargers’ senior Quarterback Ajee Patterson had his pass picked off by Linebacker Anthony Zappone at The Rock 37-yard line and made his way down to the 50.

It was from there that the Senior transfer QB from Sam Houston State, Don King III, went to work for Slippery Rock. This drive for Slippery Rock looked to be promising until a false start penalty crippled the drive, ultimately forcing it to stall out. However, The Rock would get the ball back not too long after due to a three-and-out by the Chargers, and they would eventually get into the endzone for their second time on the day via their star running back, Shamar Greene, on a 71-yard rush, his longest on the day.

The first half looked to be all Slippery Rock until Junior defensive back, Stefano Bicknese came up with his first interception on the very young season at the one-yardline and returned it back to the UNH 39. Looking to turn things around the Chargers’ offense came out firing on all cylinders, with some help from two key Slippery Rock penalties, the Chargers drove their way down to The Rock one and proceeded to punch it in with an Ajee Patterson QB sneak, making the score 14-7 and giving UNH all the momentum.

New Haven continued to gain momentum as Don King III threw his second interception of the day, this time to senior DB Leo Lorenzo. Lorenzo’s pick lead to the Chargers’ second touchdown of the day coming on an Ajee Patterson, 60-yard bomb to the fifth year senior receiver, Ty Headen, to promptly close out the scoring for both teams in the first half.

The third quarter started out slow for Slippery Rock as the Chargers kept their momentum from the first half. However, it took most of the third quarter for anyone to put up any points at the start of the second half.

Fortunately, the Chargers scored first by way of a one-yard TD pass from Ajee Patterson, his third on the day (second in the air), to #86 tight end, Jesse Tate, giving the New Haven a 21-14 lead. UNH kept rolling into the fourth quarter, scoring 15 seconds into the fourth on Ajee Patterson’s third touchdown pass, this time a 57-yarder to Ty Headen, his second of the game, bolstering their lead to 28-14.

Momentum would not last much longer for UNH, as The Rock would quickly answer back on their next drive with a King III nine-yard touchdown pass to junior WR Marcus Johnson, trimming the Chargers’ lead to 8 after a missed extra point by freshman lefty-kicker, Jake Chapala.

Don King III continued to work and drove his team down the field for another score, this time setting up Jake Chapala with a 20-yard field goal that would bring Slippery Rock within five points of New Haven’s 28-23 lead.

The Chargers would never regain their momentum and failed to score anymore points as Slippery Rock went on to score another touchdown on the legs of Greene. The Rock’s next score would come way of a wacky play in the closing minutes of the game, which UNH punter, Danny Stock, would set up for what looked like a trick play then proceeded to run out of the back of the endzone, giving Slippery Rock an extra two points and a safety, making the final score 31-28.

QB Ajee Patterson would finish the game going 12 for 26 passing for 202 yards and three touchdowns, while Ty Headen lead the team in receiving with four receptions for 127 yards and three  touchdowns, and Andre Anderson and fellow senior Running Back, Lemar Thomas, combined for 101 yards on 31 carries, Anderson with 34 yards and Thomas with 67 of the 101.

Defensively, senior Linebacker, Tyler Condit, lead the team with 13 tackles, while senior Defensive End, Ralph Jonathas, had the team’s only sack on the afternoon, and both #9 Leo Lorenzo and Stefano Bicknese had an interception each to their names.

The LIU Post Pioneers, UNH’s next opponents, are coming off a close victory on the road against the Virginia Union Panthers, with a final score of 14-12.

The Chargers look to bounce back next week as they travel to Brookville, New York, to face a team that they beat very handedly last season by a score of 63-16.