Football Returns to Arute to Host Bryant for Homecoming

Football Returns to Arute to Host Bryant for Homecoming
Today's Game • The Blue Devils finally return home for the first time since Sept. 7 hosting Bryant today for Homecoming at 1 p.m.  Following five road games in seven weeks to open the season, the Blue Devils will play four of the next five at Arute Field.
 
Nationally Ranked • The Blue Devils come into this week's game ranked #25 in this week's STATS FCS top-25 National Poll.  It marks the first time the Blue Devils have been ranked in the poll since Oct. 9, 2006.  CCSU ranked as high as #19 in the poll that season, the highest ranking they've ever received.  The Blue Devils are also #26 in the Coaches Poll this week.
 
Four Road Wins • The Blue Devils are 4-1 on the road this season, tied with Villanova for the most road wins in the country.  The four wins match the four road wins from a season ago and are the most in a single season since 2009 when they won five road games.
 
McCarthy Gets the Call • On Thursday, Ryan McCarthy was officially named Head Coach of the CCSU football team.  McCarthy served under the interim title for the first six games of the season after replacing former head coach Pete Rossomando last Spring. 
 
Time of Possession • The Blue Devils have held the ball for over 80 minutes (80:41) in the last two victories, including 42:01 in the win over Sacred Heart and 38:40 in the win at Columbia.  
 
First Quarters • Central has jumped out of the gate quickly in the last two games, outgaining their two opponents 398-33 in total yardage in the first quarter of those games.  CCSU held Sacred Heart to three yards and Columbia to 30 in the first quarter.  Sacred Heart ran just seven plays in the first quarter and Columbia ran 11.  CCSU ran a combined 43 plays during that same span. 
 
Conference Play • The Blue Devils began Northeast Conference play two weeks ago 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 tied for second in the nation with 11 interceptions through six games this season.  They have nine in their last four games.  
 
James Among the Nation's Leaders • Junior wide receiver Tyshaun James now has nine touchdowns on the season.  He leads the NEC and is 18th in the country in scoring (9.0 points per game) this season.  His nine touchdowns are tied for the fifth highest total in the country.
 
Turnover Margin • The Blue Devils have forced 15 turnovers on the season (and committed just five) and are fourth in the country in turnover margin (+10, +1.33 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 two weeks ago. 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 Again • Senior quarterback Aaron Winchester is the NEC Offensive Player of the Week for the second straight week. Winchester propelled the Blue Devils to their fourth road win over a FCS opponent, totaling 393 yards of offense and accounting for two touchdowns. He averaged 13.6 yards per pass attempt while leading the team in rushing during a 24-14 triumph over Ivy League member Columbia. He completed 63.6 percent of passes for 299 yards, including a 71-yard hook-up with Keonte Lucas to open the game's scoring. In addition to 14-of-22 passing, Winchester netted a game-high 94 rush yards on 18 attempts highlighted by a 62-yard touchdown run that gave CCSU a 10-point lead with 2:25 remaining. Engineering an offensive attack that piled up 511 yards, Winchester accounted for the third-highest individual yardage total by a NEC athlete this season.
 
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 • The Blue Devils are tied for second in the nation with three defensive touchdowns this season.  CCSU has returned two interceptions for a score, and one fumble. Grambling leads the nation with four TDs. 
 
Winchester Through Six 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. He is now completing 67 percent of his passes on the season, 86-of-129, for 1,264 yards, seven touchdowns and just two interceptions.  He is also the second-leading rusher on the team with 397 rushing yards on 67 carries, good for 5.9 yards per rush.
 
 
Rushing the Football/17th in the Country • Central enters today's game 17th in the country in rushing yards per game (226.7 ypg).  The Blue Devils have rushed for 200 or more yards in four of six games to open the 2019 season. 
 
THE ROAD TRIPS ENDS AS IT BEGAN, WITH A WIN IN NYC
The Central Connecticut football team moved to 5-1 overall on the season with a 24-14 road victory at Columbia on Saturday afternoon.  The win is the fourth road win of the season for the Blue Devils, the most of any team in the country at the FCS level.  The Blue Devils put up 511 yards of total offense against one of the country's best defensive teams in the win.  Senior quarterback Aaron Winchester passed for a career-high 299 yards and a touchdown, and rushed for 94 yards and a second score as CCSU put up 212 yards of rushing yards in the game. The Central defense held Columbia to 214 total yards of offense in the game, including just 46 yards rushing on 27 carries.  Columbia quarterbacks finished the game just 13-of-28 for 168 yards, and the Blue Devils held the Lions to 3-of-13 on third down conversions.  The Blue Devils haven't allowed a rushing touchdown since the third quarter of the Valparaiso game on Sept. 14.
 
KEY MOMENTS
• The Blue Devils got on the board with a 71-yard touchdown pass from Winchester to Lucas in the first quarter.  It was the longest passing play of the season for the Blue Devils and Lucas' third touchdown of 70+ yards this season.
• Senior kicker Francis Cole kicked a season-long 45-yard field goal in the 2nd quarter to up the lead to 10-0.
• The Blue Devils put together a 95-yard drive just before halftime to take a 17-7 lead.  The drive took just over a minute and include 65-yards of catches from junior Tyshaun James.
• Up 17-14 late in the fourth quarter, Winchester rushed for a career-long 62-yard touchdown run with 2:25 to play to push the lead to 10.
 
GAME NOTES
• Today marked the third-ever meeting between the two teams.
The Blue Devils outgained Columbia 234-30 in the first quarter. In the last two weeks CCSU has outgained its opponents 398-33 in the 1st quarter.
• Central outgained Columbia 378-101 in the first half, and held the ball for 20:19.
• Central posted over 500 yards of total offense (511) for the first time this season and the first time since last season at Bryant (Oct. 13) when they had 667.
• Winchester finished the game with a career-high 299 yards passing and added 94 yards on the ground.  He accounted for two touchdowns.
• CCSU had two players post 100+ receiving yards.  Tyshaun James had 126 on four catches, and Keonte Lucas had 114 on four catches.Lucas added 84 yards rushing on 17 carries.
• Central held the ball for 38:40 in the game, their second straight week with over 38 minutes of possession time.
 
 
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.
 
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. 
 
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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