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#23 Blue Devils Home Again, Hosting LIU Saturday at 12 p.m.

#23 Blue Devils Home Again, Hosting LIU Saturday at 12 p.m.
 
Today's Game • The Blue Devils are home for the second straight week coming off a big 52-14 home victory over Bryant on Homecoming last week.  CCSU, after beginning the season with just one home game in the first seven weeks of the season, plays four of five games at home during this stretch.  Next week they travel to Wagner, before returning home to host Saint Francis (Nov. 9) and Robert Morris (Nov. 16)
 
Nationally Ranked. Moving Up • For the second straight week the Blue Devils are ranked in the national polls.  CCSU comes into this week's game ranked #23 in this week's STATS FCS top-25 National Poll, up from #25 a week ago.  Two weeks ago marked 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 #24 in the FCS 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 (5).
 
McCarthy Gets the Call • Last 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. 
 
First Quarters • Central has jumped out of the gate quickly in the last three games, outgaining their two opponents 582-72 in total yardage in the first quarter of those games.  CCSU held Sacred Heart to three yards, Columbia to 30 and Bryant to 39 in the first quarter.  Sacred Heart ran just seven plays in the first quarter, Columbia 11 and Bryant 14.  CCSU ran a combined 58 plays during that same span. 
 
Conference Play • The Blue Devils moved to 2-0 in Northeast Conference play with the big win over Bryant last week.  CCSU is a league-best 12-2 in the last three seasons in league play, posting a 6-0 mark two years ago and a 4-2 record last season to go along with their 2-0 mark in 2019.
 
Interceptions • The Blue Devils are tied for second in the nation with 11 interceptions through seven games this season.  They have nine in their last five games.  
 
Defensive Scores • The Blue Devils are first in the nation with four defensive touchdowns this season.  CCSU has returned two interceptions for a score, and two fumbles. 
 
Turnover Margin • The Blue Devils have forced 16 turnovers on the season (and committed just seven) and are fourth in the country in turnover margin (+9, +1.29 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. 
 
Winchester Wins Three Straight Weekly Honors • Senior quarterback Aaron Winchester was named the NEC Offensive Player of the Week for the third straight week on Monday. Winchester becomes the first NEC player since 2007 to win the Offensive Player of the Week Award in three straight weeks. Winchester did it all, again, for the Blue Devils in Saturday's win.  He accounted for four total touchdowns and posted 389 total offensive yards in the win.  The Central offense totaled 555 yards of offense in the win and posted a season-high 52 points.  Winchester led all rushers with 10 carries for 161 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He averaged 16.1 yards per carry.  He had scoring runs of 42 and 56 yards in the first half.  He also finished the game 13-of-19 for 228 yards and two more touchdowns through the air.  Winchester threw scoring strikes of 41 and 34 yards in the first half.  Winchester is now the team leader in both rushing and passing this season.
 
Petteway Earns NEC Honor • Freshman Kyren Petteway made the most of a pair of catches in Saturday's Homecoming win.  He was named the NEC Rookie of the Week on Monday. Petteway, who had one catch on the season prior to Saturday's game, caught two passes for 75 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the home win.  In the first quarter, with the game scoreless, Petteway caught his first career touchdown on a 41-strike from Aaron Winchester to give the Blue Devils their first lead, 7-0.  He wasted little time finding the end zone again catching his second pass and second career touchdown with a 34-yard catch with 4:55 left in the first quarter. Petteway is the first Blue Devil with multiple 30+ yard touchdown catches in a game this season and the first since Nick Bacarella had two vs. Albany (47 and 30 yards) vs. Albany on Oct. 22, 2011.
 
Almost vs. the FBS • 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. 
 
Winchester Through Seven 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, 99-of-148, for 1,492 yards, nine touchdowns and just two interceptions.  He is also the leading rusher on the team with 558 rushing yards on 77 carries, good for 7.2 yards per rush, and four touchdowns.
 
 
BACK HOME WITH A WIN ON HOMECOMING
The No. 25 Central Connecticut football team returned home for the first time in six weeks and put up a convincing 52-14 victory over visiting Bryant University on Saturday afternoon.  The Blue Devils, playing in front of a Homecoming crowd of over 5,000, put up 555 total yards of offense and scored their fourth defensive touchdown of the season as they moved to 6-1 overall and 2-0 in Northeast Conference play with the victory.  Senior quarterback Aaron Winchester ran for 161 yards and two touchdowns, and threw for 228 yards and two more scores as Central rolled to its third straight win.  The Blue Devils allowed 14 or fewer points in a game for the fourth time this season. The Central defense was solid once again, allowing just 279 yards of total offense, marking the third straight game of allowing less than 300 total yards.  They also scored their nation-leading fourth defensive touchdown of the season.  Junior DJ Exilhomme scooped a Bryant fumble and ran 40 yards for the score.  It is his second fumble return for a touchdown this season. The Central defense had four sacks in the game and allowed only 73 yards rushing by Bryant.  It was the fifth time this season the Blue Devils have allowed under 100 rushing yards in a game.
 
KEY MOMENTS
• Freshman wide receiver Kyren Petteway, who had one rushing attempt this season, caught a pair of first quarter touchdowns to give CCSU a 14-0 lead.  He had scoring catches of 41 and 34 yards and finished the day with 75 receiving yards.
• Winchester rushed for a career-high 161 yards and two touchdowns in the game.  He had scoring runs of 42 and 56 yards.
DJ Exilhomme picked up a fumble and ran 40 yards for his second fumble return for a touchdown this season.  
• Both Exilhomme brothers scored in the game.  D.J. had a fumble return and junior Danley Exilhomme rushed for a two yard touchdown in the third quarter.
 
NOTES
• CCSU has now won three straight in the series vs. Bryant.
The Blue Devils are now 12-2 in their last 14 NEC games.
• The Blue Devils posted 555 yards of total offense, including 312 on the ground and 243 in the air.  They averaged 8.0 yards per rush and 9.3 yards per offensive play in the game.
• Winchester finished the game with 389 of total offense, including 161 on the ground and 228 in the air.
Danley Exilhomme finished the game with 84 rushing yards on just 14 carries, and a touchdown.
• Sophomore Foday Jalloh led the defense with 11 total tackles.
Junior Tre Jones had a pair of sacks for the defense, in addition to four tackles, two of them for a loss.
 
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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