Football Looks to Move to 3-0 With Road Game at Valpo on Saturday

Football Looks to Move to 3-0 With Road Game at Valpo on Saturday
Today's Game • The Blue Devils travel to Valparaiso, IN today to face Valparaiso for the first-ever meeting between the two teams.  Valpo plays as a member of the Pioneer Football League.  The Blue Devils haven't played a member of the PFL since they faced Butler on the road in the final game of the 2009 season in the Gridiron Classic between the NEC and the PFL. 
 
 
2-0 • The Blue Devils have started a season 2-0 for the first time since the 2006 season and for just the second time since 1980.  The wins over Fordham and Merrimack have Central as one of just two unbeaten teams remaining in the Northeast Conference (Duquesne is 1-0).  They also have one of just two road wins for the league this season (Saint Francis U also has a win at Lehigh).
 
Looking for 3-0 • Central is looking to start a season 3-0 for the first time since 1973 when they began the season 3-0 before losing their fourth game of the season.  The 1973 team finished 9-1 on the year.  With the 2-0 start in non-conference action this season the Blue Devils have won three of their last four non-conference games dating back to last season.
 
McCarthy Gets the Call • Following the departure of five-year head coach Pete Rossomando, offensive coordinator Ryan McCarthy was promoted to interim head coach for the 2019 season.  McCarthy had been on staff with the Blue Devils for four seasons and last year he led the league's top scoring and yardage offense.  
 
Next Up • The Blue Devils will continue their road trip next weekend heading to Eastern Michigan for a 3 p.m. kick.  The game marks the second straight road game in a string of four straight (in five weeks) for the Blue Devils.  It also marks the third straight season, and fourth time overall, that the Blue Devils will face an FBS opponent.  Central is 0-3 all-time vs. FBS opponents (Western Michigan in 2007, Syracuse in 2017 and Ball State in 2018).  
 
Road Warriors Until Oct. 19 • The Blue Devils will play just one home game over the first seven weeks of the season.  CCSU opened at Fordham (W), then played at home vs Merrimack (W) last week.  Today they play at Valparaiso and Eastern Michigan next week before a bye week on Sept. 28.  They will then play at Sacred Heart and at Columbia before returning home on Oct. 19 for HOMECOMING vs. Bryant.  Starting Oct. 19, CCSU plays four of six at home.
 
Cole Earns League and National Honor • Senior placekicker Francis Cole earned a pair of Player of the Week honors on Monday.  Cole was named the Northeast Conference and STATS FCS National Special Teams Player of the Week for his game-winning kick against Merrimack on Saturday night. Following his game-winning kick at Patriot League member Fordham on August 31, the senior connected on another clutch kick during the Blue Devils' home opener against NEC newcomer Merrimack.  The Blue Devils won both games by three points.  On Saturday night, after the visiting Warriors evened the score at 37-37, Cole sent the crowd home happy by nailing the 44-yard attempt, his second game-winner in as many weeks.
 
TWO FROM 40+ • Cole became the first CCSU kicker to post two, 40+ yard field goals in the same game since Derek Pearson did so on the road at Colgate on Sept. 3, 2005.  Pearson kicked four fields in the win over Colgate, including the game-winner from 32-yards out as time expired in a 24-22 win.  He also had field goals of 48, 42 and 32.
 
CCSU MAKES IT TWO STRAIGHT TO OPEN THE YEAR
The Central Connecticut football team defeated Merrimack, 40-37, on Saturday night at Arute Field in its 2019 home-opener.  Senior Francis Cole kicked the game-winning field goal with :08 to play to win it for the Blue Devils for the second straight week. Junior Tyshaun James ran for two scores and caught another. James also made a crucial 26-yard catch to set up the game-winning field goal.
 
KEY MOMENTS
• The Blue Devils trailed 14-3 with 14:55 to go in the opening half. Central would score 21 straight points to take a 24-14 lead into halftime. 
• James would score on a seven-yard run for CCSU's first touchdown. His second score came on an eight-yard run.
• Freshman Kenyata Huston caught a 60-yard pass from senior Aaron Winchester to make it 24-14.
• Central extended the lead to 31-14 in the third quarter following a 22-yard receiving touchdown by James and a three-yard fumble return by junior DJ Exilhomme.
• The Warriors would score two touchdowns and ensuing two-point conversions in the span of 1:04 to tie the game. 
• CCSU drove 45 yards on four plays in 0:46 to set up the game-winning kick. Senior Enyce Walker had 24 receiving yards on the drive and James had a 26-yard catch.
• Junior DJ Exilhomme returned a fumble three yards for a touchdown, marking the second straight week that CCSU scored a defensive touchdown.
• Winchester ran for a team-high 92 yards on 11 carries. 
• James finished the game with 95 yards receiving on four catches.
Winchester Through Two Games • Graduate transfer Aaron Winchester took over the quarterback duties as the Blue Devils had a new starter under center for the first time since the 2014 season.  Winchester came to CCSU from Georgia State, where he was a captain as a back-up last season.  In his first two games he has not disappointed, running for 200 yards and also completing 25-of-45 passes for 312 yards and three touchdowns (and 2 int).
 
A QB for 100 • The 108 rushing yards by Winchester against Fordham marked the first 100 yard rushing game for a CCSU quarterback since Andrew Clements in 2012 to rush for 100 yards in a game.  Clements rushed 15 times for 103 yards and two touchdowns in a loss at Stony Brook to open the 2012 season.
 
Brown Earns Preseason All-America Honor • Senior offensive lineman J'Von Brown was named to the STATS FCS Preseason All-America Team.  Earlier this summer Brown was named to the Athlon FCS Preseason All-America Team. He was also honored with Preseason All-Northeast Conference honors.  The senior is one of five lineman in the country to be named to the STATS First Team.  He is one of two NEC players on the First Team. Brown was a Second Team STATS FCS All-America selection a season ago as a junior in 2018.  
 
Dolegala and the Bengals • Former Blue Devil Jake Dolegala is now an official member of the Bengals 53-man roster. Dolegala, an undrafted free agent signed by the Bengals following the 2019 Draft, played in the final two preseason games with the Bengals.  He was impressive in both.  Against the Giants he finished 10-of-12 for 94 yards and a pair of touchdowns.  He played every snap of the final preseason game against the Colts, finishing 27-of-41 for 253 yards.  For the preseason Dolegala completed 37-of-53 for 347 yards and a pair of scores, without throwing an interception. Dolegala finished a stellar career with the Blue Devils as the school's all-time leader in passing yardage and touchdowns, becoming just the fifth quarterback in league history to throw for over 8,000 yards.  He threw for 48 career touchdowns.  As a senior he completed 61 percent of his passes for 2,221 yards and 16 touchdowns while throwing just six interceptions.  Dolegala finished his CCSU career 654-of-1136 for 8,129 yards, 48 touchdowns and 29 interceptions.  He set the school-record with 2,934 passing yards as a sophomore in 2016, completing 258-of-432 passes while throwing only nine interceptions.  He also rushed for 452 yards in his career, including 18 touchdowns. Dolegala becomes the first CCSU player to make an NFL roster since former offensive lineman and arena league standout Rich Ranglin signed with the Chiefs during the 2012 season.
 
CCSU Picked Third in the NEC • CCSU was picked third in the Northeast Conference preseason coaches' poll at the league's 2019 Social Media Day at MetLife Stadium. The Blue Devils also had six players named to the Preseason All-Northeast Conference Team revealed during the day's festivities. The Blue Devils were tabbed third in the preseason poll after finishing third in the league standings in 2018. Duquesne was a unanimous choice as the conference's preseason favorite. CCSU closes out the regular-season on the road against the Dukes on Nov. 23.  Central's offense, which led the conference in scoring and yardage last season, had four players named to the Preseason All-NEC Team, including three offensive linemen. Seniors J'Von Brown and Cole Phelps, along with junior Connor Mignone return to anchor a unit that piled up over 432 yards per game last season to rank 29th among FCS squads. The veteran unit also ranked seventh nationally in sacks allowed. Mignone and Brown were both All-NEC First Team picks last season, while Phelps was on the Second Team.  Brown enters the season having been named to the Athlon FCS Preseason All-America Team after earning Second Team STATS All-America honors as a junior. Mignone, who earned All-America honors as a rookie, and Phelps, a two-year starter, will anchor the line with Brown for a squad that averaged 223.6 yards on the ground to rank 21st nationally last season. Junior Tyshaun James rounded out CCSU's preseason offensive selections and returns at wide receiver after collecting a team-high four receiving touchdowns. He played in all 11 games last year and had 20 catches and averaged nearly 11 yards a reception. Senior defensive back Tajik Bagley and junior defensive back DJ Exilhomme represented the CCSU defense on the league's preseason team. Bagley, an All-NEC First Team pick in 2018, was fourth on the team in tackles with 50 and was second on the team with nine pass break-ups as a junior. As a returner, Bagley averaged 22.0 yards on kickoff returns and 13.1 yards on punt returns. He took a punt back 82 yards for a touchdown against Columbia last season. Exilhomme emerged as a sophomore and was named to the All-NEC First Team after leading the team in tackles with 74 tackles. He also added four forced fumbles, an interception and five pass break-ups.
 
Offensive Minded • The Blue Devils led the league in scoring offense a year ago at 33.8 points per game.  Central's 51 touchdowns were tied for the most in the league.  They also led the league in total offense (432.3 yards per game) were second in rushing offense (223.6 yards per game) and second in passing offense (208.6 yard per game).    
 
Into the Record Book • Place kicker Francis Cole, a senior this season, kicked his way into the football record book in the road loss at Lafayette last year.  Just before halftime Cole kicked a school-record 50-yard field goal to put the Blue Devils up 17-14. It was the first 50+ yard field goal in school history, topping the record of 49 set by Mike O'Sullivan vs. Springfield in 1984. 
 
Bagley to the House • Defensive back Tajik Bagley became the first Blue Devil since 2003 to return a punt for a touchdown when he returned a Columbia punt 82 yards for a score in the first quarter on Sept. 15, 2018.  The last Blue Devil to return a punt for a touchdown, prior to Bagley, was former defensive back Donnie Rose, who returned a punt 90 yards vs. Monmouth on Nov. 1, 2003.  
 
Mushaw WAS the Match! • For the past five years, the Blue Devil football program has teamed up with the Be The Match Program to add close to 1,000 CCSU students, faculty and staff to the national bone marrow registry. Last year they got word that one of the people they had signed up had been chosen as a match. Linebacker Mike Mushaw was selected as a match, and last 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 life-saving 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. 
 
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.  
 
NEC Front Row • Live webcasts of NEC sports will be available free of charge on NECFrontRow.com again this season. The site will carry every CCSU NEC football game this season, excluding those games designated by the NEC to air on ESPN3/ESPN+.

 

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