EASTON — Coming into a Northeast-10 Conference showdown with the University of New Haven, the Stonehill College football team had its eye on moving up into second place in the conference.
But not much went according to plan for the Skyhawks on Saturday afternoon.
New Haven, which was sparked by two blocked punts from Giye Jenkins, scored 21 straight points in the first and third quarters to throttle Stonehill with a resounding 42-20 defeat at W.B. Mason Stadium.
Stonehill now falls to 5-2 on the season and 3-2 in conference play. New Haven (6-1, 5-0) is tied for first place with Bentley University in the NE-10 while the Skyhawks drop to fourth with three games remaining.
“Obviously we’ll see the film, but it just seemed like a lot of the mistakes were so self inflicted,” said Stonehill coach Eli Gardner. “I don’t want to take anything away from them. Obviously they’re a good football team, but when you play good football teams in big games you can’t give them anything.”
Stonehill’s play on special teams was a main source for its problems. The Skyhawks missed a field goal and an extra point along with having a punt only net 14 yards in the opening quarter, which led to New Haven’s second score of the day.
But the two blocked punts were especially backbreaking for the Skyhawks. The first one Jenkins swatted down was recovered by Kasi Hazzard and returned 10 yards for the game’s opening touchdown midway through the first quarter. That started a stretch in which New Haven scored 21 points in a 6:48 span.
Jenkins’ other block came less than two minutes into the third quarter and with New Haven recovering the ball at Stonehill’s 5-yard line it set up quarterback Connor Degenhardt, who is a Holy Cross transfer, to find his favorite red zone target in 6-foot-4 tight end Kevin Foelsch for their second touchdown connection of the day and a 28-0 lead.
“It was a similar situation with both,” said Gardner of the blocked punts. “We felt we had it fixed. The first one was just poor technique and the second one was a guy just stepped the wrong way. It was just a complete bust. We got to look at it. We got to look at the personnel. We got to look at how we’re executing and preparing. It’s pretty base stuff for us and that’s what’s most concerning.”
While Degenhardt’s overall statistics weren’t gaudy, he still provided plenty of production by completing 9-of-18 passes for 151 yards and registering five total touchdowns. After tossing three touchdown passes, he ran for two scores in the third quarter as New Haven’s lead ballooned to 42-0 with 3:06 left in the third quarter.
The 322 yards of total offense Stonehill produced by game’s end was more of a mirage with most of it coming late in the second half with the contest already decided.
Going up against a stout Charges defense, which came in allowing the least amount of points per game in the NE-10, Stonehill struggled to get its high-powered attack in top gear as it amassed just 56 yards of offense in the first half.
New Haven swallowed up Stonehill’s prolific ground game as well with the Skyhawks mustering 85 yards rushing.
Star senior running back and reigning NE-10 MVP Justin Felder, who missed last week’s game against Saint Anselm, didn’t seem completely healthy as he had a diminished workload compared to what he received early in the season — he had only six carries for 36 yards — and rotated in with Jermaine Corbett and Brian Kearns, Jr.
“(Felder’s) battling it like we all are,” Gardner said. “Everybody’s got to some degree his balance of injuries at this point in the season. So, we’re no different. We’re trying to get him healthy throughout the week and make sure he’s effective for Saturdays and obviously we’ve got two other really good running backs, too, so we got a next man up philosophy regardless of who’s healthy or who’s injured.”
Behind fifth-year senior quarterback Anton Stoneking, the Skyhawks showed some late fight.
Stoneking (16-for-28, 237 yards), who was stripped-sacked in the third quarter and threw an interception, did his best to make up for his own miscues by throwing touchdowns passes of 10 and 33 yards to Connor Walsh and Chris Domercant, respectively. Stoneking also ran for a 4-yard touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
But that did little to stop New Haven’s celebratory mood, which it made sure Stonehill was well aware of with its chippy play throughout the second half. The skirmishes carried over to the postgame handshake line where players had to be separated.
“It’s up to their coach to determine how they want to handle themselves win, lose or draw and I’m worried about Stonehill and how we respond to it,” Gardner said. “I didn’t think our guys were in the wrong at any point during the game. I’m proud of our guys for that. I can say that without having to watch the film because I was in it.”
It was a homecoming of sorts for twin brothers Christian and Christopher Ais of Stoughton, who are in their freshman season with New Haven.
Christopher Ais recorded three late carries for seven yards while Christian Ais rotated in the Chargers secondary. The two brothers went up against former Stoughton teammate Marc Christian Georges, who is a freshman linebacker for Stonehill.
Source : https://www.enterprisenews.com/story/sports/college/football/2021/10/23/new-haven-takes-down-stonehill-college-football-ne-10-showdown/6155212001/1736