Season on the brink

Kevin CromptonSpecial to the Southern News

Southern football was defeated by the University of New Haven Friday night with a final score of 31-17 in a battle for the Elm City trophy.

The UNH Chargers jumped out to an early 7-0 lead on their first possession of the game. After receiving the opening kickoff, UNH marched down the field consistently moving the chains, picking up first down after first down. On fourth and goal from the one yard line, UNH quarterback Ajee Patterson took advantage of the one-on-one coverage and threw a fade to the corner of the end zone, hitting receiver Justin White for the early touchdown.

After some back and forth football, Southern was finally able to come up with three points in the second quarter. After a failed attempt at going for it on fourth and goal on an earlier possession, The Owls brought out their field goal unit and freshman kicker Jose Conde drilled the chip shot from 21 yards out.

In the second half, down 10-3, the Owls came out passing. Senior captain and quarterback Raymond Catapano found Isaiah Docket on the play action pass over the middle planting their offense in the red zone. On the same drive, Captapano kept the ball on a read option, made a defender miss and scampered to the pylon for a 15-yard Owls touchdown, tying the game up at 10 apiece.

Late in the third quarter with Southern trailing UNH 17-10, Catapano’s pass over the middle was slightly overthrown and intercepted by the defense. The Charger’s offense was then able to turn the take away into six points on a five-yard run by their sophomore running back Ryan McCarthy.

“We didn’t really go to the right spot on that play unfortunately but that’s football,” said head coach Tom Godek, reflecting on the pivotal interception. “They made a play and we didn’t.”

The Owls’ last score of the game came with just under 12 minutes to go in the fourth quarter. Catapano managed to find the end zone again using his legs on a two-yard, designed quarterback run off tackle. Catapano lead his team in rushing, passing, and scoring. He finished the game with 300 yards passing, 51 yards on the ground, and two touchdown passes to his one interception.

Redshirt junior defensive end John Strezo lead the Owls’ defense with a career high 12 tackles. He also recorded three tackles for a loss, and half a sack.

New Haven had no empty trips when entering the red zone, as they came away with four scores out of four opportunities. Southern was three for four on their chances inside the 20-yard line.

The Elm City trophy is on the line every time these two rival schools face off on the gridiron. The trophy dates back to 1981, when these two schools first went head to head. In 2000 the UNH football program was dissembled, but was resurrected in 2009 and the Elm City rivalry began once again. After winning the trophy in 2009, Southern has fallen to UNH in their last nine matchups. It will not be until next season that the Owls will once again get another shot at redemption, bragging rights, and reclaiming the coveted Elm City trophy.

Southern has lost their last three games falling to 1-4 on the season. The team has a bye this week allowing them to regroup and recover before they take on LIU Post (3-1) in New York on Oct. 14.

“I wish we could play next week. I really do.” said Godek. “But we’re a little bit banged up ourselves, just like everybody is probably right now. It’s probably going to be good just to get away for a couple days and start getting a hard look at LIU Post in a couple days, who’s going to be another challenge for sure.”

Photo Credit: Palmer Piana

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