Today: May 29, 2024

Owls lose in a shootout to cross-town rival

RYAN FLYNNStaff Writer

Things looked bleak early and grim late, but for the most part, Southern’s game against UNH was a competitive and entertaining shootout. For three quarters and early into the fourth, Southern matched UNH’s high-octane passing attack.

The Owls were unable to keep pace however, as UNH scored 21 unanswered fourth-quarter points and won 59-38.

“I thought the effort was there,” head coach Rich Cavanaugh said. “[The loss] certainly wasn’t because our guys didn’t play hard. I thought the effort was there, I just thought there was just too many mistakes that we made that hurt us in the long run.”

Both teams entered the game with 4-1 records, each undefeated in Northeast-10 conference play. UNH, ranked No. 21 in Division II, entered the rivalry game having narrowly defeated the Owls 22-21 in last year’s contest.

UNH wasted no time getting the shootout started–literally. Mike DeCaro took the opening kickoff 90 yards for a touchdown, giving the Chargers a 7-0 lead 10 seconds into the game.. After a Southern three-and-out, UNH quarterback Ryan Osiecki had a pass tipped and intercepted by linebacker Sam-uel Johnson, a senior from Newark, N.J.

Southern’s offense had produced negative-two yards of offense until running back Rashaad Slowley–a senior from Mount Vernon, NY, broke a 75-yard run down to the UNH 11-yard line. He would then run in the 11-yard score to tie the game at 7. .

The teams then traded field goals, followed by an early second quarter UNH touchdown to receiver Jason Thompson, who finished the game with [1] 179 and two touchdowns on seven catches.   Southern cut the lead on a Chris Hazelton field goal.. Southern also forced consecutive 3-and-outs on defense, and looked to be taking hold of the momentum.

Junior safety Davel Campbell then picked off a UNH pass, followed by a Kevin Lynch fumble to give the ball right back. Just one play later, UNH would fumble the ball right back, capping a string of three turnovers in just four plays.

Southern added another field goal to draw cut the score to 17-16. The Owls then kicked a squib kick on the ensuing kickoff. The ball was bobbled by UNH and recovered by Southern. With a short field, the Owls drove 30 yards resulting in a Lynch touchdown pass to tight end Jerome Cunningham to give the Owls a 23-17 lead–their first of the game. .

“I thought our guys responded, up until the end there,” Cavanaugh said. “We got down and we were able to fight our way back, take the lead at halftime and then came out took the lead (in the fourth). And after that, we weren’t able to do anything offensively and our defense was on the field. You can never win if you’re giving up big plays, either. We gave up too many big plays tonight.”

Southern opened the second half with a four-play, 69-yard drive that ended with a Slowley rushing touchdown. The Owls led 30-17, but UNH took the kick return to Southern’s 30-yard line. . They followed with a passing touchdown that brought the score to 30-24. Two plays later, UNH sacked Lynch and jarred the ball loose. UNH’s Tom Herd scooped up the football and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown and a 31-30 lead. Riding this momentum, they would score again on the following drive to go up 38-30.

“Momentum is a part of the game,” said Lynch, a senior from Medfield, Mass. “You’ve got to kind of withstand the swings, try to make plays and try to get the momentum back. We had a tough time with that today I guess.”

Southern finally answered, opening the fourth quarter with another Slowley touchdown, this time from 10 yards out. Kevin Lynch then scrambled in for a successful 2-point conversion, and Southern had again drawn even at 38 apiece.

This would be the last time the Owls would find the end zone. While the UNH offense continued to thrive, Southern began to falter on both sides of the ball. UNH scored three more unanswered touchdowns, while Southern was forced to punt twice and turn over the ball on downs.

“I mean, everybody just has to improve fundamentally,” Slowley said. “We’re physical, we know what we’re doing. We’ve just got to touch up the edges. Like we made little mistakes that, you know, hurt us in the long run.”

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