The Central Connecticut football team opens the 2018 campaign this Thursday night traveling to Ball State and taking on an FBS opponent for the second straight season. The Blue Devils opened 2017 at Syracuse, and began the year 0-3, before rattling off a school-record eight straight wins on their way to an 8-4 overall record and their first-ever trip to the FCS Playoffs. Central was a perfect 6-0 in the NEC last season on its way to the fifth NEC title in school history.
The Blue Devils open the year this Thursday night, August 30, at 7 p.m. on ESPN+ at Ball State.
Northeast Conference Champions • The Blue Devils won their fifth Northeast Conference title with an undefeated 6-0 league record in 2017. It was the first unbeaten conference season for an NEC team since 2008. The league title is the fifth for CCSU since the 2004 season, and their first since 2010. Central finished the home portion of its schedule 5-1, including five straight home wins to end the season. Today's Game • The Blue Devils open the 2018 season facing an FBS opponent for the second straight season and third time in their history. Last season Central traveled to Syracuse and opened the year with a 50-7 loss to the Orange. They also played an FBS opponent in 2007 when they traveled to Western Michigan. Central and Ball State are meeting for the first time.
Blue Devils Picked to Repeat • The Central Connecticut football team was tabbed the Northeast Conference preseason favorite at the league's 2018 Social Media Day at MetLife Stadium, it was announced on July 24, 2018. The Blue Devils were tabbed the preseason favorite, collecting five first-place votes from the league's coaches. Duquesne was tabbed second, followed by Bryant, with each collecting a single first-place vote. CCSU closes out the regular-season at home against the Dukes on Nov. 17.
Seven Blue Devils Named Preseason All-Conference • The defending NEC Champion Blue Devils had a league-high seven players named to the preseason AllConference team. Central's OFFENSE, which is slated to return eight starters, had four players named to the Preseason All-NEC Team. Leading the returnees was senior quarterback Jacob Dolegala. A three-year starter, Dolegala became the program's all-time leading passer last season. In 33 career games, he has thrown for 5,908 yards and 32 touchdowns. He was also named the league's Offensive Player of the Week on Nov. 13 after figuring in all four touchdowns of CCSU's win at Duquesne to clinch the league title. Junior J'Von Brown and sophomore Connor Mignone, a pair of Blue Devils who helped anchor the offensive line last season, were also named to the preseason team. Mignone collected a slew of honors as a rookie, including NEC Offensive Rookie of the Year and Phil Steele Freshman All-American. He and Brown cleared the way for a ground attack that averaged nearly 185 yards per game and had the program's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2014. They were also part of an o-line that tied for ninth nationally having allowed just nine sacks in 11 regular season games. Junior Arthur Gilmore rounded out CCSU's preseason offensive selections and returns at tight end after earning All-NEC First Team honors last season. He played in all 12 games last year and had nine catches for 136 yards.
Senior defensive lineman Chris Tinkham, senior linebacker Kenneth Keen and junior defensive back Tajik Bagley represented the CCSU DEFENSE on the NEC Preseason Team. Tinkham, an All-NEC Second Team pick in 2017, had 40 tackles last season, including three in the FCS playoff game. He finished with 5.5 tackles for a loss and 3.5 sacks. Keen ranked second on the team in tackles with 85 on the season, including 9.5 for a loss and three pass break-ups. Keen was also an All-NEC Second Team pick last season. Bagley led the league with 16 pass breakups to go with 42.0 tackles and a pair of interceptions. As a kick returner, he averaged 25.2 yards and was named the league's Special Teams Player of the Week on Sept. 11 after returning the opening kickoff 95 yards for a score against Fordham.
Mushaw WAS the Match! • For the past four years, head football coach Pete Rossmando and the Blue Devil football program have teamed up with the Be The Match Program to add more than 750 CCSU students, faculty and staff to the national bone marrow registry. This past year they got word that one of the people they had signed up had been chosen as a match. Junior linebacker Mike Mushaw was recently selected as a match, and this summer he donated his marrow to help save the life of someone he has never met. CCSU football has joined the efforts of Villanova football head coach Andy Talley to raise awareness of the need for marrow donors and helping patients receive lifesaving transplants. Talley and others have helped recruit thousands of potential donors to the registry by encouraging their football players, other students and their peers on other teams to sign up, along with friends, family and teachers. Last year alone, close to 10,000 people joined the Be The Match Registry through Get in the Game. Save A Life. donor registry drives.
Eight Straight Wins • Prior to last season's loss to New Hampshire in the FCS playoffs, the Blue Devils won eight straight games in a single season for the first time in school history. The single season streak was the best in school history, and came after an 0-3 start for CCSU. The last streak of nine of more straight wins came from 1954- 55 when CCSU won nine straight games (all six games of 1954 season and first three of 1955).
Rossomando Coach of the Year and Eddie Robinson Finalist • Head coach Pete Rossomando was named the NEC Coach of the Year last season. He was also an Eddie Robinson Award finalist for the National Coach of the Year Award.
Turnovers • The Blue Devils finished 15th in country in turnover margin last season (+10) having forced 11 fumbles and intercepting 15 passes in 12 games. They led the conference in that category.
Defensive TD's • The Blue Devils led the country in defensive touchdowns in 2017 with six. Central returned two fumbles and four interceptions for a touchdown in the 12 games. Senior Tymir Hinton had a pair of those touchdowns.
Interceptions for a Score • The Blue Devils have now returned seven interceptions for a touchdown in their last 22 games, dating back to 2016. Senior Tymir Hinton returned an interception 100 yards in the four overtime win over Wagner on Oct. 14, 2017, the fourth pick for a score last year for the Blue Devils. CCSU tied an NCAA record by returning an interception in four straight games from Sept. 23 through Oct. 14 of last season
26 or More • During their eight-game winning streak last season Central scored 26 or more points in each of those games. It was the first time in school history that CCSU had scored 26 or more points in eight consecutive games.
Overtime, Again • The Blue Devils played one of the most memorable games in school history in 2017 topping Wagner 51-45 in 4OT on Staten Island. The game is the longest in school history and the ninth-ever overtime game for CCSU. The Blue Devils are now 6-3 all-time in overtime. Central had previously played three double overtime games and was 1-2 in those games. They lost 23-17 at Robert Morris in 2006, won 49-48 at Monmouth in 2010 and lost 51-44 at Lehigh in 2013, all in double OT.
57 Points • The Blue Devils scored 57 points in the home victory over Walsh in 2017, the most points in the five seasons under Rossomando, and the most points in a single game since a 62-21 home victory over St. Francis U on Oct. 7, 2006.