Loss at Homecoming
Owls beat by Chargers, miss Elm City trophy
Sam Tapper — Sports Writer
In a seemingly perfect day for homecoming — from the weather and the crowd to the matchup against cross-town rival New Haven — the stage had been set. However, the Elm City Trophy will reside in West Haven once again this year.
The Owls suffered their fifth loss of the season 23-20 to the Chargers of UNH in a game that saw the Owls storm back from a big deficit, but ultimately fall short. They found themselves in a hole early in the first quarter, as the Chargers blocked redshirtsenior Kyle Armour’s punt and returned it for a touchdown.
The Owls would answer early in the second, and, on the first play of the quarter, running back Jonmichael Bivona, a sophomore, got into the end zone on a 37-yard rush to tie the game at seven. However, UNH went into the half with a 14-7 lead, following a touchdown run from Chargers running back Shamar Logan, a sophomore, who would finish with 132 yards on 22 carries. The Owls were forced to punt on the first drive of the second half, but Armour’s punt was blocked once again, resulting in a safety and a score of 16-7.
“Punt cover, they blocked one punt for a touchdown,” said Armour, a defensive back who has also stepped into the punter’s role. “Blocked another one for a safety, so that’s nine points right there. I mean, that’s a big difference; that’s win or loss right there. So, if we can’t win in all phases of the game, it’s not going to be good.”
Another rushing touchdown in the third quarter would give the Chargers a 23-7 lead going into the final quarter. Though things looked bleak, the Owls found a surge of energy — propelling them right back into the game.
Though he kept quiet in the first half, freshman quarterback Jackson Ostrowsky, got his offense down the field when they needed it, setting up Bivona for his second touchdown of the game while also getting one of his own, which he leads the team with five touchdowns for the year. The duo cut the score to 23-13. The Owls put the ball in Ostrowsky’s hands again, and he was able to deliver. He led a nine-play, 63-yard drive that culminated in his own rushing touchdown, making it a three-point game.
“Our defense was playing pretty good here today,” said Owls head coach Tom Godek. “Unfortunately, we mustered some things, but just didn’t muster enough energy on offense, and the big nine points in the kicking game is hard to overcome.”
Southern’s outside linebacker Vance Upham, a junior, recovered a critical fumble to give Ostrowsky and his offense the ball one last time.
Though a few end zone attempts fell short, the Owls were able to get in field goal range, setting up kicker, Gavin Toth, a freshman, for a 46-yard attempt to tie the game with 1:24 remaining. Though it had the distance, the kick was wide-right and the Chargers came away with the victory.
With the loss, the Owls fall to 2-3 in the NE10, positioning them firmly in seventh in the conference standings. The Owls have three remaining regular season games: next week at Saint Anselm in Manchester, N.H., followed by a road game at Stonehill before they host Pace on senior day.
“We’re still up,” said Bivona. “We’re going to go out here with three games left with a bye week. So we’re going to go out there and stay up, keep our heads up and go out and fight.”
The Elm City Trophy – the award given to the annual winner of the inter-New Haven matchup, will find its home on UNH’s campus for the eleventh straight season. Though Coach Godek would have liked to break that streak, he still had high praise for the crowd at Jess Dow Field for the homecoming festivities.
“We, as an organization here, appreciate all the students support and what the institution’s done,” Godek said. “We can’t thank everybody enough.”
Photo credit: Izzy Manzo