Today: Jul 16, 2024

Owls make comeback; fall short against sister school

Sean Meenaghan — Photo Editor
Senior Andre Privott led the Owls with six catches for 61 yards in the loss.

RYAN FLYNNSpecial to Southern News
After a first half plagued with turnovers and red-zone failures, Southern had dug themselves a hole too deep to crawl out of.
Some stellar play in the second half, especially on the defensive side of the ball, briefly made it a game again, but in the end it was too much to overcome.
The Owls fell on the road 35-21 to in-state rival CCSU Blue Devils.
On the opening drive, Southern looked poised to take control right off the bat. Senior quarterback Kevin Lynch led the team down to Central’s one-yard line. However, the Owls were unable to cash in after two runs and an incomplete pass on the fourth down.
“Any time you drive the length of the field, it’s unfortunate when you don’t score,” Lynch said, finishing the game with 223 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. “We’ve got to be better in that area. It’s just something we’ve got to fix.”
CCSU owned the first half. Central’s quarterback Gunnar Jespersen led an option offense that at times looked unstoppable. Passing touchdowns
of four and eight yards put the Blue Devils up 14-0. Lynch was then stripped, the fumble returned 23 yards for the Blue Devils’ third unanswered touchdown. They would score their fourth six minutes later, leaving the halftime score a lopsided 28-0. To this point Central had nearly double the time of possession.
However, one Southern team went into the locker room at halftime and a completely different one re-emerged. Early in the third period, the Owls staged a seven-play, 44-yard drive capped off by a one-yard touchdown run by tailback Rashaad Slowley. Despite
another Lynch interception, the offense began to look much better.
The same could be said of the defense.

Sean Meenaghan — Photo Editor
Senior Rashaad Slowley ran for two rushing touchdowns and 50 yards on the ground.

Southern held the Blue Devils without a first down for the entire third quarter, finally solving the option offense that had caused so many difficulties early in the game.
“I think we adjusted a little bit to the speed of the game,” head coach Rich Cavanaugh said. “I think we played a lot more physical in the second half then we did in the first half.”
With 8:52 remaining in the fourth quarter, things got even more interesting.
After an 11-play drive, Slowley scored his second one-yard touchdown. A missed extra point left the Owls behind by a margin of 28-13. However, an interception by Southern cornerback Mustaqiim Plair on the following drive gave them new life.
They again turned this opportunity into points, by way of an 11-yard pass from Lynch to junior tight end Jerome Cunningham. In a controversial call, Coach Cavanaugh elected to go for the two-point conversion instead of taking the conservative route and waiting for the team’s next score. His gamble paid off, however, and Central saw their once dominating lead cut to a meager seven points.
“We just started playing,” Lynch said. “We knew we could move the ball. We’re pretty good on offense so it’s just a matter of kind of being there in the first half. The defense played fantastic—they really played incredible. They basically gave up 14 points, so my hat’s off to them.”
With 2:25 remaining, and still trailing 28-21, Southern elected to try an onside kick. The ball looked to be struck perfectly and kicked up high off of the turf above the outstretched arms of players from both squads. After a scramble for the ball, Central’s wide receiver and a member of the unit meant to field onside kicks, Matthew Tyrell, came down with the ball and saw nothing but green turf in front of him. He returned the kick 35 yards for a touchdown, effectively icing the game and ending Southern’s hopes of a thrilling
come-from-behind win.
“On the onside kick our players did the exact thing that you’re supposed to do and kept the ball in play, because if they recover it the game’s over anyway” said Lenny Bonn, special teams and linebackers coach. “If we recover it then you’ve got a fighting chance. So, we did the right thing.”
The team, Bonn said, did everything correctly and kept the ball in play. The goal was to recover possession in any way possible.
“I think our team has a lot of heart.” Cavanaugh said. “[The Owls] didn’t give up. We came back, we had some opportunities to maybe win the game, unfortunately we didn’t.”

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