Story and photo courtesy of New Haven Athletics
WEST HAVEN, Conn. - University of New Haven senior quarterback Ronnie Nelson (Stuart, Fla./South Fork ) threw for six touchdowns and 255 yards to lead the nationally ranked Chargers to a 65-7 victory over Assumption College at Ralph F. DellaCamera Stadium. In front of the Fourth Annual Community Day crowd, the Chargers improved to 5-0 overall and 4-0 in the Northeast-10 Conference, while the Greyhounds dropped to 1-5 overall and 1-4 in conference play.
The Chargers' win marked the 200th victory in Charger football history, which dates back to 1973. The win brought the programs all-time record to 200-139-5 or a 58.9 winning percentage. Longtime head coach Mark Whipple leads a select group of nine coaches with 48 wins at UNH, while five-year head coach and current New York Jets offensive coordinator Tony Sparano led the team with 41 wins. Current head coach Peter Rossomando now stands one win away from his 30th victory.
Nelson went 18-of-22 in the game and was sacked just once, while six touchdown passes is just one shy of the Chargers' single game record and the most since football returned to the gridiron in 2009. his favorite receiver was Jason Thompson (Indiantown, Fla./South Fork ) who finished the day with five catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns, including a 48-yard long. Demetrius Washington-Ellison (Rahway, N.J./Rahway / Univ. of Maine) was second on the team with four catches for 67 yards and one score, while three other receivers also caught touchdowns. Mike DeCaro (Weston, Fla./Cypress Bay ) led the UNH rushing attack with 51 yards and one touchdown, while Anthony Tillman (Piscataway, N.J./Piscataway) chipped in with 49 yards on nine carries and one touchdown.
As a team, UNH ran for 193 yards on 41 carries and amassed 448 yards of total offense. Assumption was held to 190 total yards, including just 75 rushing yards on 27 carries.
The Chargers opened the game with a long 10-play, 69-yard drive which ended with a fumble at Assumption's one-yard line. After forcing the Greyhounds into a punting situation, The Chargers went back to work on offense and started a string of eight-straight scoring drives, carrying the team all the way into the third quarter. The first scoring drive went 18 yards after a short Assumption punt gave the Chargers the ball inside the red-zone. Nelson hit Chris Ruffin (New York, N.Y./Phillip Randolph) for a 16-yard strike and Chris Scifo (Coral Springs, Fla./St. Thomas Aquinas / Central Connecticut State University) punt UNH up 7-0 with the extra point.
After the Chargers touchdown, New Haven's Justen Wilson (Hamden, Conn./Hyde Leadership) forced a fumble on the ensuing kickoff at Assumptions own two yards line. Brian Alston (Robbinsville, N.J./Robbinsville) recovered and gave UNH the ball inside the Greyhounds' red-zone once again. One play later, DeCaro crossed the endzone and put the Chargers ahead 13-0 with 5:41 left in the first quarter.
Assumption regained possession, but after three incomplete passes, the Greyhounds were forced to punt again. Nelson went back to work on New Haven's next drive, which started at their own 49-yard line. Eight plays later, Scifo booted a 35-yard field goal through the uprights and gave New Haven a 16-0 lead with 3:52 left in the first quarter. Assumption went three plays before Tom Herd (Sparta, N.J./Sparta ) tipped a pass and Brent MacLeod (Winchester, Mass./Winchester) picked off the pass. The defensive end rumbled 12 yards to Assumption 14-yard line and put the Chargers back inside the Assumption red-zone. One play later, Nelson threw his second touchdown of the opening quarter, hitting Thompson for a 24-yard touchdown.
The Greyhounds then used the first 10 plays of the second quarter to march 73-yards for their first scored of the afternoon. Quarterback Bobby Jordan completed an 11-yard touchdown strike to Neil Harrington to cut New Haven's lead to 16 points. On its first drive of the second quarter, New Haven scored another touchdown. The drive went 75-yards on eight plays and culminated in an eight-yard touchdown reception by Josh Smart (Hamden, Conn./Hamden ). The Chargers point after was a two-point conversion attempt and Brice DeRosa (Huntington Station, N.Y./Walt Whitman / Iona College) found Lashley just across the goal line to improve the Chargers lead to 31-7.
On the Greyhounds' ensuing drive, Bernard Risco (Philadelphia, Pa./James Hillhouse) cut it short, intercepting Bobby Jordan with 3:21 left in the first half. The Chargers gained possession at the 20-yard line and marched 80 yards on just four plays for another touchdown. Nelson found Thompson for the second time in the first half on a 48-yard pass and catch with 1:53 left in the second quarter. Scifo's extra point gave the Chargers a 38-7 lead. Five short plays later, New Haven took possession at Assumptions own 16-yard line, after back-to-back unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on the Greyhounds. With just 45-seconds left in the half, Nelson threw his fifth touchdown of the half with a 13-yard catch and touchdown by DeCaro. Scifo again split the uprights and put the Chargers ahead 45-7 at halftime.
Assumption was first with the ball in the second half, but stifling defense by the Chargers forced a quick three-and-out to open the half. Another long drive for UNH ensued. The Chargers started with the ball at their own 37-yard line, and seven plays later Nelson threw his sixth touchdown of the game when he found Washington-Ellison for an eight-yard strike. The Chargers took a commanding 52-7 lead with 10:10 left in the third quarter.
New Haven's next scoring drive came at the end of the third quarter and two plays into the fourth quarter. Tillman capped a seven-play, 42-yard drive for New Haven with a two-yard touchdown run. The extra point was good and the Chargers took a 59-7 lead. The Chargers' final score came off a "scoop and score." with 2:38 left in the fourth. Geo Santos (Paterson, N.J./Paramus Catholic) picked up a fumble and went 66-yards to the house. Scifo's two-point conversion failed and the Chargers went on to a 65-7 victory.
Defensively, the Chargers were very spread out as 16 defenders recorded multiple tackles. J.D. Chalifoux (Mansfield, Mass./Mansfield) and Matt Stevko (Shelton, Conn./Shelton ) led the way with five total tackles. Kendrick Butler (Fort Lauderdale, Fla./Dillard / ASA College) chipped in with two tackles-for-loss.
New Haven will return to action against Bentley University on Saturday, Oct. 13 at 1 p.m. The game in Waltham, Mass. will feature two of the top teams in the Northeast-10 Conference this season. Stay posted to www.NewHavenChargers.com throughout the week for complete coverage.