The Central Connecticut football team opens the 2019 season on the road tonight at Fordham, beginning at 6 p.m. The Blue Devils, under the direction of head coach Ryan McCarthy, are coming off a 6-5 season overall. Central and Fordham are meeting for the third straight season, with each team winning on the road the past two seasons.
Today's Game • The Blue Devils travel to face Fordham on the road for the second straight season, and will face the Rams for the third straight season overall. Last year CCSU topped Fordham 24-13. Fordham won at CCSU in 2017.
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 open the home portion of their schedule next week as Merrimack comes to New Britain for a 6 p.m. kickoff on Sept. 7. Merrimack, a new member of the NEC, will not count as a league game for the Blue Devils. The game was scheduled prior to the Warriors announcing their move to the NEC.
Road Warriors Until Oct. 19 • The Blue Devils will play just one home game over the first seven weeks of the season. CCSU opens today at Fordham, then home vs Merrimack on Sept. 7. Following the game vs. Merrimack, CCSU will play games at Valparaiso and Eastern Michigan 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.
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. Another New Face • The NEC welcomes another new team, LIU, to the league this season. LIU's Long Island and Brooklyn campuses have merged into one athletics department, and the former Division II football team will immediately become a member of FCS and compete in the league. CCSU hosts the Sharks on Oct. 26.
Winchester is the Guy • Graduate transfer Aaron Winchester takes over the quarterback duties as the Blue Devils will have a new starter under center for the first time since the 2014 season. Winchester comes to CCSU from Georgia State, where he was a captain as a back-up last 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.
Dolegala and the Bengals • CCSU record holder Jake Dolegala, the school's all-time leading passer and a starter for the Blue Devils for 3+ years, has moved on and is currently a member of the Cincinnati Bengals. Dolegala saw his first action on the preseason last week, completing 10-12 passes for 94 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Dolegala went undrafted after his senior season but signed on with the Bengals immediately after the draft this spring.
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 lifesaving 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 • Thanks to a continued partnership between the Northeast Conference and the Pack Network, live webcasts of NEC sports will be available free of charge on NECFrontRow.com. The site will carry every CCSU NEC football game this season, excluding those games designated by the NEC to air on ESPN3/ESPN+.