Football Set to Open Conference Play at SHU on ESPN3

Football Set to Open Conference Play at SHU on ESPN3
 
Today's Game • The Blue Devils continue their road trip this weekend and also begin conference play with a trip to Sacred Heart at 2 p.m. on ESPN3.  The game marks the third straight road game in a string of four straight (in five weeks) for the Blue Devils.  Following this weekend's game the Blue Devils will travel for their final non-conference game of the season on the road at Columbia next weekend.
 
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.  
 
Conference Play • The Blue Devils begin Northeast Conference play this week on the road at Sacred Heart.  CCSU is a league-best 10-2 in the last two seasons in league play, posting a 6-0 mark two years ago and a 4-2 record last season.
 
Interceptions • The Blue Devils are second in the nation with nine interceptions through four games this season.  They have seven in their last two games.  Only N.C. Central (10) has more total interceptions on the season.
 
Two Weeks Ago • The Blue Devils dropped a 34-29 road decision at FBS opponent Eastern Michigan on Sept. 21, narrowly missing the Northeast Conference's first win over an FBS opponent in league history.  Down 28-15 in the fourth quarter, the Blue Devils used a pair of touchdowns in the final eight minutes to take a 29-28 lead with 2:05 left in the game.  A late blocked punt for a score gave the home team the victory.  Central held the Eagles to under 100 yards rushing in the game, and posted a pair of interceptions in the fourth quarter that helped give them the late lead.
 
Pair Honored following EMU Game • Junior wide receiver Tyshaun James and junior linebacker Tre Jones were both honored by the Northeast Conference with a pair of weekly awards two weeks ago.  James was named the league's co-Offensive Player of the Week while Jones earned Defensive Player of the Week honors.  James stacked up 151 scrimmage yards and two touchdowns during Central Connecticut's visit to Eastern Michigan. The receiver totaled 118 yards on two catches and rushed five times for 33 yards in the last-second setback. Jones was at the forefront of a defensive effort that held Eastern Michigan in check, limiting the Eagles to fewer yards than previous opponents Illinois and Kentucky. The senior linebacker totaled five tackles. Jones' first tackle dropped the ball carrier for a two-yard loss on a first down play in the first quarter. After EMU crossed midfield early in the third quarter, Jones made a key stop to bring up a 3rd-and-10 play. The outside linebacker dropped back in pass defense and snagged his first career interception with the Blue Devils protecting a 29-28 lead late in the fourth quarter. 
 
3-0 Start • The Blue Devils started a season 3-0 for the first time since the 2006 season and for just the second time since 1973.  
 
Defensive Scores, National Leaders • The Blue Devils and Villanova lead the country with three defensive touchdowns this season.  CCSU has returned two interceptions for a score, and one fumble.  
 
Five Picks • The Blue Devils posted five interceptions in the road win over Valpo three weeks ago.  It's the most interceptions in a game since they also posted five in a 34-0 win over Robert Morris on Oct. 31, 2015 in New Britain. 
 
Winchester Through Four 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 four games he has not disappointed, running for 241 yards and a touchdown and also completing 53-of-82 passes for 690 yards and five touchdowns (and 2 int).
 
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) on the road at Valpo (W) and two weeks ago on the road at Eastern Michigan (L).  Today they play at Sacred Heart and then next week at Columbia before returning home on Oct. 19 for Homecoming vs. Bryant.  Starting Oct. 19, CCSU plays four of six at home to end the regular season.
 
Rushing the Football/16th in the Country • Central enters today's game 16th in the country in rushing yards per game (239.8 ypg).  The Blue Devils have rushed for 250 or more yards in three of four game to open the 2019 season. It marks the first time the Blue Devils have rushed for 250 or more yards in three straight games since the 2007 season when they did it in five straight. That season CCSU rushed for over 250 yards seven times.
 
Lucas Earns NEFW Gold Helmet • Sophomore running back Keonte Lucas was named the New England Football Writer's Gold Helmet Award winner three weeks ago.  Lucas rushed 10 times for 190 yards and two touchdowns in the road win over Valp0.  Lucas had scoring runs of 75 and 85 yards in the victory. Lucas rushed for a career-high 190 yards on his 10 carries (19.0 ypc) and scored twice as the Blue Devils moved to 3-0.  With a 14-13 lead in the third quarter, Lucas took a handoff up the middle and went 75 yards for a one play scoring drive to push the CCSU lead to 21-13.  Later in the third quarter Lucas completed a two-play drive with an 85-yard scoring run to make it 35-13. His 75 yard score was the longest scoring run for CCSU since Drew Jean-Guillaume ran 76-yards for a touchdown vs. Bryant on 10/21/17.  His 85-yard TD was the longest run from scrimmage for CCSU since Jean-Guillaume posted an 84-yard rush vs. Bryant last season, and was the longest scoring run for CCSU since Rob Hollomon rushed 94 yards for a touchdown vs. Salve Regina in 2013.
 
Central Comes Up Just Short at EMU
The Central Connecticut football team posted two fourth quarter touchdowns but a late punt block for a score helped Eastern Michigan claim a 34-29 victory over the Blue Devils. Junior Tyshaun James had 118 yards receiving, all coming in the fourth quarter on just two catches, including the go-ahead score with just over two minutes to play.  
 
COACH QUOTE
"First off, I am incredibly proud of our players and staff," said head coach Ryan McCarthy. "The kids played their tails off and executed the game plan put together by the staff, extremely well. There are still a lot of things to clean up, but there are numerous positives to take from this experience. It was not the outcome we had hoped for, but we will learn from it and work on improving ourselves during the bye next week to get ready for a very competitive Northeast Conference slate."
 
KEY MOMENTS
• The Blue Devils went 75 yards on 11 plays on their first possession of the game to take an 8-0 lead.  Senior Enyce Walker rushed the ball in from one-yard out and had 40 total yards on the drive. Winchester hit Arthur Gilmore, Jr. with the 2-pt. conversion.
• Central's second scoring drive went 10 plays for 75 yards and a second touchdown, this time from James on a 10-yard rush.  They held the ball for 12:19 of the first quarter.
• EMU took advantage of the game's first turnover and went seven plays and 53 yards to take a 21-15 lead just before halftime.
Following a lightning delay, the Blue Devils went 75 yards on their first drive to cut the lead to 28-22.  Lucas rushed it in from one-yard out for the score, his third in the last two weeks.
• Junior safety Anthony Caramanica posted the eighth interception of the season for the Blue Devils in the fourth quarter.  
• A 68-yard throw and catch from Winchester to James with just over two minutes to play gave the Blue Devils a 29-28 lead.
Eastern Michigan blocked a punt and with 10 seconds left ran it in for the game-winning score.
 
GAME NOTES
• Today marked the first-ever meeting between Eastern Michigan and CCSU.  It was the fourth time CCSU has played an FBS opponent.
• James scored his sixth touchdown of the season to end the first quarter and give the Blue Devils a 15-7 lead.  It was his third rushing TD of the season.  He scored his seventh touchdown of the season in the fourth quarter.
• The Blue Devils failed to rush for at least 250 yards in a game for the first time this season.  Central ended the game with 115 rushing yards.
• With 11:36 left in the 4th quarter the game went into a lightning delay.  The delay began at 5:42 p.m. and lasted 50 minutes.
 
Cole Earns League and National Honor • Senior placekicker Francis Cole earned a pair of Player of the Week honors two weeks ago.  Cole was named the Northeast Conference and STATS FCS National Special Teams Player of the Week for his game-winning kick against Merrimack on Sept. 7. 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.  Two weeks ago, 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.
 
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.  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.
 
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+.

 

PrestoSports