Football Travels to Columbia for Final Non-Conference Game of the Season

Football Travels to Columbia for Final Non-Conference Game of the Season
 
Today's Game • The Blue Devils end their long road trip this weekend with their final non-conference game of the season at Columbia.  The game marks the fourth straight road game for the Blue Devils.  Central and Columbia are meeting for the second time in two seasons.  The Lions won 41-24 at CCSU last season and Central won on the road in 2009.  Following today's game the Blue Devils play four of their final six games of the season at home.
 
Three Road Wins • The Blue Devils are 3-1 on the road this season.  The three road wins are the second most in the country among FCS teams. Villanova has four, and CCSU and James Madison each have three. 
 
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 began Northeast Conference play last week on the road at Sacred Heart, winning 28-3.  CCSU is a league-best 11-2 in the last three seasons in league play, posting a 6-0 mark two years ago and a 4-2 record last season.
 
Interceptions • The Blue Devils are first in the nation with 11 interceptions through five games this season.  They have nine in their last three games.  
 
James Scores Two More • Junior wide receiver Tyshaun James scored twice in the win over Sacred Heart last week.  He now has nine touchdowns on the season.  He leads the NEC and is seventh in the country in scoring (63 points) this season.  His nine touchdowns are the sixth highest total in the country.
 
Turnover Margin National Leader • The Blue Devils forced four more turnovers last week in the win at Sacred Heart.  They have now forced 15 turnovers on the season (and committed just five) and lead the country in turnover margin (+10, +2 per game).
 
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. 
 
Defense Holding Strong • The Blue Devils held the high-powered Sacred Heart offense to just three points and 238 total yards in the win last week. Sacred Heart entered the game averaging 33.5 points per game and 443.5 yards per game.  It was the fewest points scored by Sacred Heart in an NEC game since Oct. 20, 2012.  
 
Winchester Earns Weekly Honor • Senior quarterback Aaron Winchester was named the Northeast Conference Offensive Player of the Week on Monday.  Winchester and the Blue Devils went on the road to top Sacred Heart, 28-3, on Saturday in Fairfield.  The road win is the third for the Blue Devils this season, the second-highest road win total in the entire country.  Winchester and CCSU are now 4-1 overall on the season and 1-0 in NEC play.  They're 11-2 in their last 13 NEC games. Winchester was nearly flawless in the conference-opening victory at Sacred Heart on Saturday.  He finished the game 19-of-25 through the air, for 275 yards and a touchdown.  Winchester, the team's leading rusher, also ran 11 times for 62 yards.  In the first quarter he orchestrated drives of 12 and 10 plays, consisting of 130 total yards and almost 12 minutes off the game clock. Central possessed the ball for 42 minutes on Saturday, with Winchester running the show and running off 72 total plays for 464 yards. The 275 yards through the air were a career-high and his second straight game with more than 230 yards.
 
Three 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. 
 
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.  
 
Winchester Through Five 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 five games he has not disappointed, running for 303 yards and a touchdown and also completing 72-of-107 passes for 965 yards and six touchdowns (and 2 int).
 
Rushing the Football/17th in the Country • Central enters today's game 17th in the country in rushing yards per game (229.6 ypg).  The Blue Devils have rushed for 250 or more yards in three of five 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.
 
CCSU OPENS NEC PLAY WITH WIN AT SHU
The Central Connecticut football team moved to 4-1 on the season and 1-0 in Northeast Conference play with a 28-3 road victory at Sacred Heart on Saturday.  Juniors Tyshaun James and Danley Exilhomme each scored twice and the Blue Devil defense held the high-powered SHU offense in check to give the Blue Devils their third road win of the season.  The Pioneers had just 238 yards of total offense, and three points, their lowest point total of the season.  They came in averaging 33.5 points per game.  Central's defense allowed a season-low three points in the game, not allowing a touchdown for the first time since Sept. 7, 2018 in a win over Lincoln.  SHU's offense came in averaging 443.5 total yards per game, they were held to almost half that total. Central's offense scored four times, twice on drives after SHU turnovers, and put up 464 yards of total offense in the victory.  Senior quarterback Aaron Winchester finished the game 19-of-25 for 275 yards and a touchdown.  He also rushed for 62 yards in the victory.  The win is the third straight for CCSU on the road at SHU. 
 
COACH QUOTE
"I thought our defense played outstanding," head coach Ryan McCarthy said. "I thought all three phases of the game were great, we played a really complete football game.  I don't think we had played all three together to this point, but the defense kept them off the scoreboard.  Offensively we controlled the ball, especially in the first half.  Always good to get a conference win."
 
KEY MOMENTS
• The Blue Devils' first two drives took 22 plays, 11 minutes and 54 seconds and 130 total yards.  They were stopped on a 4th down on their first drive, and scored a TD on their second one.
CCSU outgained SHU 164-3 in the first quarter.
• A pair of rushing touchdowns by the Blue Devils in the first half gave them a 14-0 lead with 5:00 left in the second quarter.  The first came from Exilhomme and the second from James.
• The Blue Devils outgained the Pioneers 248-111 in the first half.
Central scored twice in the third quarter to pull away.  James scored on a 10-yard pass from Winchester.  Exilhomme scored on a one-yard run.
• The Blue Devils held the ball for 42 minutes in the game, keeping the SHU offense off the field.  The Pioneers had just 18 minutes of possession time in the game.
 
NOTES
• The game marked the 22nd all-time meeting between CCSU and SHU.  CCSU now leads the all-time series 13-9.
• The two touchdowns for James give him nine on the season.
• The two interceptions in the game, one from junior Kendall Coles, and one from sophomore Aiden Rosa, give the Blue Devils 11 interceptions in five games this season.
• Exilhomme finished the game with 64 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns.
• James finished the game with five catches for 74 yards and four rushes for 12 yards, while scoring twice.
• Following next week's road game at Columbia, the Blue Devils will play four of their final six games of the season at home.
 
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 Valpo.  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.
 
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.
 
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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