New Haven Edges Stonehill in OT, 23-17

Junior Colin Markus rushed the ball a career-high 34 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown tonight. (PHOTO BY Andrew Katsampes)

Fourth quarter turnovers prove costly for Skyhawks

EASTON, Mass. (October 4, 2014) – Sophomore Lemar Thomas (Hackensack, New Jersey) scored a pair of second half touchdowns, including the game winning score in overtime, to lift the University of New Haven to a 23-17 victory over Stonehill College in Northeast-10 Conference football action at Timothy J. Coughlin Memorial Field at W.B. Mason Stadium tonight.

Thomas scored on a pair of one-yard plunges in the fourth quarter and overtime to lead the New Haven comeback win. He finished with 49 yards on 17 rushes on the night, scoring the deciding touchdown on the Chargers third play after Stonehill missed a field goal on its overtime possession. Senior Joey Bradley (Issaquah, Washington) completed 19-of-33 passes for 205 yards and a touchdown with one interception, over half to junior Ty Headen (Newark, New Jersey) who finished with 11 receptions for a game-high 116 yards and a touchdown. Headen led UNH with 156 all-purpose yards, adding a 12 yard punt return and 28 yards on two kickoff returns.

Junior Tyler Condit (Caldwell, New Jersey) led the New Haven defense with 12 tackles (eight solo) and an interception. Senior Jacob Weaver (Wilmington, Delaware) added ten stops (six solo), while sophomore Chad Woodfine (Springfield, Massachusetts) contributed four tackles (one solo), including 1.0 for a loss of two yards and a forced fumble. Seniors Herbens Antenor (Malden, Massachusetts) and Matt Zakrzewski (Traverse Michigan) each chipped in with interceptions, while classmate Drake Harris (Union, New Jersey) also forced a fumble.

Stonehill posted 345 yards of total offense on the night with 224 passing and 121 on the ground, compared to 309 total yards for New Haven with 205 passing and 104 rushing. The Skyhawks were hurt by four turnovers, including three interceptions, all of which came in the fourth quarter. Both teams struggled on third down with the Skyhawks converting on 3-of-14 attempts and then coming up empty on two fourth down conversion tries, while UNH was just 2-of-14 on third down.

Senior All-American linebacker Brian Harrington posted a season-high 12 tackles tonight. (PHOTO BY Jan Volk/SportsPix)

Junior running back Colin Markus (Monroe, Connecticut/Masuk) posted his fourth-straight 100-yard rushing game (eighth career) with a career-high 34 carries for 111 yards and a touchdown to go with six receptions for another 40 yards and two kickoff returns for 37 yards to post a game-high 188 all-purpose yards. His 34 rushing attempts are the third highest single-game total in program history, the most by a Stonehill running back in W.B. Mason Stadium history and the third-highest total overall. Markus moved into seventh place on the program's career rushing list with his 1,446 yards.

Junior wide receiver Gordon McLeod (Weymouth, Massachusetts/BC High) posted a career-high matching six receptions for a season-best 99 yards and a touchdown for Stonehill. Sophomore quarterback Tom Sydeski (Brockport, New York/Brockport) completed 21-of-32 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown, but was intercepted three times in the contest, connecting with seven different receivers for the contest.

Senior All-American linebacker Brian Harrington (Rockland, Massachusetts/Rockland) led another strong defensive effort for Stonehill with a season-high 12 tackles, marking his 14th double-figure tackle performance over the last 16 games dating back to last season. Sophomore Ryan Doherty (Methuen, Massachusetts/Central Catholic) added a season-best nine tackles (two solo) and a pass breakup, while junior Ryan Hollis (Hawthorne, New Jersey/Hawthorne) contributed seven stops (four solo) and a breakup. Senior Nate Morris (Bristol, Rhode Island/The Wheeler School) chipped in with four tackles (three solo), including 1.0 for a loss of a yard, an interception and pass breakup.

Stonehill took a 17-10 lead after Sydeski connected with McLeod for a 59 yard touchdown pass and catch with 2:17 remaining in the third quarter. The play came on the first play for the Skyhawks after senior Nate Robitaille (Attleboro, Massachusetts/Attleboro) gave the team good field position with a nine yard return after a 38 yard New Haven punt after a three and out.

Sydeski's first career interception came when Zakrzewski collected a tipped ball on third and ten from the Stonehill 13 at the 30 and returned it six yards to the 14. Thomas scored his first of two touchdowns four plays later with 12:17 left in the fourth quarter on a one yard plunge after a key 14 yard completion from Bradley to Headen at the one yard line.

New Haven forced Stonehill three and out on the next possession and then Morris provided a spark for the Skyhawks with his interception at their own 36 that he returned 23 yards to the New Haven 41, setting up great field position for a go-ahead score. However, Sydeski was picked off by Antenor at the 22 yard line on the first play of the possession to reverse momentum. Sydeski was intercepted again at midfield on Stonehill's next possession.

Junior Gordon McLeod matched his career-best with six receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown. (PHOTO BY Emily Reynolds)

New Haven scooped up a fumble by Markus on second and ten from the Stonehill 14 with 4:24 remaining. The Skyhawks defense held and forced the Chargers to settle for a 25-yard field goal attempt for sophomore Brian Roberts (Amherst, New York), which he pushed wide left to keep the game tied. Neither team could manage a long drive on their next possessions, sending the game to overtime.

New Haven forced Stonehill to settle for a 40-yard field goal attempt on the first possession of overtime, which junior Steve Grzywacz (Manchester, New Hampshire/Manchester Central) missed short after the Chargers got good pressure up the middle. New Haven took over and after a 22-yard Bradley pass to Headen on first down, Thomas scores two rushes later with his second one yard touchdown run, handing the Chargers the victory.

Stonehill settled for a 26-yard Grzywacz field goal at the end of a nine play possession following a 29 yard Robitaille punt return, after the defense held New Haven to a three and out on the opening drive, gave the Skyhawks great field position at the Chargers 40.

New Haven answered by marching back down the field on its next possession with a nine play, 79-yard drive capped by a 33 yard touchdown pass by Bradley to Headen with 4:30 remaining in the first quarter.

Stonehill regained the lead 34-seconds into the second quarter when Markus capped a ten play, 68 yard scoring drive with a two yard scoring run. Sydeski was 5-for-5 for 47 yards passing on the drive for the Skyhawks.

Stonehill carried the 10-7 lead into halftime, but was unable to earn a first down on the opening possession of the second half. New Haven followed with a 12 play, 65-yard drive that stalled at the Skyhawks 21. Robert attempted a 38 yard field goal, that was wide left, but Stonehill was flagged for running into the kicker, giving Roberts another chance from 33 yards that split the uprights for a 10-10 deadlock to set up the finish.

Stonehill (2-3, 2-2 NE-10) hits the road for the next two weekends with a pair of trips to New York, starting next Saturday at LIU Post at 1 p.m. The Skyhawks next home game is Saturday, October 25, against Southern Connecticut State University on Hall of Fame Weekend at the College at 1 p.m. New Haven (2-3, 2-2 NE-10) hosts Southern Connecticut State University next Saturday at 1 p.m.

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