Today: Jul 14, 2024

Owls football hands Elm City bragging rights back to UNH


Chris Torres

Copy Editor

The Southern Owls football team had the opportunity to defeat Northeast-10 Conference rival UNH, but fell short as they were plagued by costly turnovers and mistakes during the heartbreaking 23-22 loss at DellaCamera Stadium Saturday.

The Owls led 22-17 at the start of the fourth quarter, but UNH drove 92 yards on 13 plays and quarterback Ryan Osiecki hooked up with receiver Demetrius Washington for a nine-yard score that put the Chargers in front for good.

Southern had chances in the final 12 minutes but could not hang onto the ball, as they turned it over on their final three possessions.

“When you turn the ball over (it’s) always going to come back and haunt you,” said head coach Rich Cavanaugh. “We had some opportunities and we turned the ball over. The University of New Haven [has] a good football team. You can’t turn the ball over to them and expect to come away with a W.”

The Owls trailed 7-0 late in the first quarter, but put together a six-play, 30-yard drive which was capped off by a five-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Kevin Lynch to tight end Nick Mandich.

UNH fired right back, however, after they received great field position, courtesy of Bernard Risco, who returned the ensuing kickoff 54 yards to the Southern 28 yard-line. Two plays into the drive Osiecki found receiver Kameel Lashley in stride for a 33-yard touchdown to put the Chargers back on top.

After a quick three and out by UNH, the Owls received some help from the Chargers’ special teams. UNH punter Chris Scifo fumbled the snap, recovered it but was immediately tackled at the 25 yard-line, setting up Southern in great scoring position. The Owls could only come away with a field goal and would receive more help from the Chargers’ special teams in the third quarter.

Trailing 17-13, UNH attempted a fake punt on fourth and six from the Southern 34. The Owls were not fooled, however, as Chevar Rankins made the tackle at the 41, where the Southern offense would set up shop.

On the first play of the ensuing drive, receiver Andre Privott jump started the Owls with a 21-yard run on a reverse to the UNH 38. Three plays later, Lynch found receiver Willie Epps for a 16-yard gain to the 11 yard-line and on the very next play, running back Rashaad Slowley (22 carries, 160 yards) dashed to the end zone to give the Owls their first lead of the game.

“I just saw a lot of blitzing in the inside gaps,” said Slowley, of the touchdown. “I just bounced it outside and it was open.”

After Osiecki’s touchdown toss to Washington gave the lead back to UNH, Lynch connected with Privott, who was then hit by Charger J.D. Chalifoux, and fumbled. After a quick three and out by the Chargers, the Owls began another drive at their own 42. That drive stalled once again as running back John Wiechman fumbled after he was hit by Mike Gomes.

The Owls were given one last chance for a rally in the final two minutes, but Lynch commited yet another turnover throwing an interception to Charger Desmond Anderson. The final turnover cemented the contest as a game given away by the Owls offense.

“I thought at times we played well, I thought at times our offense played well,” said Coach Cavanaugh. “I thought we played kind of sporadically to be honest with you.”

Quarterback Kevin Lynch (13-26, 203 yards, one touchdown) said the missed opportunities in the red zone were a problem for the Owls.

“I’m guessing about five times we got stopped (in the red zone),” he said. “That’s no good; you’re not going to win a football game with that.”

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