The Central Connecticut football team opened the 2018 season with a 42-6 loss on the road at FBS opponent Ball State on Thurday night. The Blue Devils opened for the second straight season against an FBS team after beginning 2017 at Syracuse. With the loss CCSU is 0-1, and will prepare for its home opener next Friday night, Sept. 7, vs. Lincoln (PA).
The Blue Devils began the game with their best drive of the first half, but a 36-yard field goal attempt from junior Francis Cole was wide right and Ball State took over. Central stopped the Cardinal and forced a punt on Ball State's first offensive possession of the game.
Central went 3-and-out, and then the Cardinals put together a 13-play, 71-yard drive to build a 7-0 lead. A 20-yard pass from Riley Neal to Nolan Givan finished the drive and put the first points of the game on the board.
Following a second straight 3-and-out for CCSU, the Cardinals scored their second touchdown of the game, this time on a 12-yard run from Malik Dunner that capped a six-play, 76-yard drive to open the second quarter.
The lead reached 21-0 after a nine-play, 92-yard scoring drive from Ball State with 2:43 left to play before halftime. Neal rushed in from 16-yards out for the three score lead.
The Blue Devil defense came up with a stop of the final play of the first half, at their own one yardline, to keep the score 21-0. The Cardinals had driven down the field quickly but went for a touchdown on the last play of the half and were stopped.
Central had 127 yards of offense in the first half, including 90 through the air. Ball State had 384 offense yards in the half and posted 22 first downs. They were 8-of-10 on third down.
The Cardinals opened the second half with an attempted fake punt but the ball was fumbled and Central took over inside the 25-yardline. They couldn't take advantage, however, and a fake field goal was unsuccessful and Ball State took over inside their 20. They needed only four plays to move 83 yards and push the lead to 28-0 on a 35-yard scoring run from James Gilbert.
The lead reached 35-0 with 3:41 to play on a nine-play, 89-yard drive that ended with a 20-yard scoring strike to Yo'Heinz Tyler. A late touchdown made it 42-0 with 3:53 left in the game.
Sophomore Aaron Dawson led the offense with 10 rushes for 61 yards and his first career touchdown. It came from two-yards out in the final 12 seconds of the game. The scoring drive for CCSU went 12-plays for 75-yards to end the fourth quarter.
Senior quarterback Jacob Dolegala finished the game 14-of-24 for 117 yards in the loss. Senior Tymir Hinton and sophomore DJ Exilhomme led the defense with eight tackles each. Junior Tajik Bagley added seven.
Central returns to action on Friday night, Sept. 7 in its home opener hosting Lincoln (PA) in a night game beginning at 6 p.m.