Blue Devils Gear Up For Trip to Albany, FCS Playoffs

Blue Devils Gear Up For Trip to Albany, FCS Playoffs
Today's Game • The Blue Devils advance to the FCS Playoffs for the second time in the last three seasons.  They face Albany on Saturday at 1 p.m. CCSU also advanced to the playoffs in 2017, dropping a 14-0 decision on the road at New Hampshire. The Blue Devils won their sixth NEC title with a 7-0 conference record.        
 
 
7-0 in League Play • The Blue Devils finished the season 7-0 in Northeast Conference play, their second undefeated league season in the last three years (6-0 in 2017).  CCSU is the first team to win seven league games since both Wagner and Albany finished 7-1 in 2012.
 
Eight Straight • The Blue Devils have won eight straight games in a single season for the second time in three years.  This marks the second time in three seasons that the Blue Devils enter the FCS Playoffs on an eight-game winning streak (2017). The eight game winning streak is the longest in-season winning streak in school history.
 
Eight Straight, Another Note • CCSU has won eight straight road games vs. FCS opponents, dating back to last season.  CCSU is 6-0 on the road vs. FCS opponents in 2019.  Their only road loss this season came at FBS opponent Eastern Mighigan, 34-29.
 
Six Road Wins • The Blue Devils are 6-1 on the road this season.  The six road wins are the most of any program in the country. The six road wins are the most in school history. CCSU joins one other NEC team in history with at least six road wins in a single season.  Sacred Heart finished the 2001 season 7-0 on the road.
 
11 Wins, School Record • The 11 wins by the Blue Devils are a new school-record.  The previous record of nine wins was accomplished twice (1973 and 2009).
 
Nationally Ranked • For the seventh straight week the Blue Devils are ranked in the national polls.  CCSU is ranked #17 in the STATS FCS top-25 National Poll, the highest-ever ranking in the poll for the Blue Devils.  Seven 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 Blue Devils are also #18 in the FCS Coaches Poll this week.
 
Winchester Payton Award Finalist • This week, senior quarterback Aaron Winchester was announced as a finalist of the 2019 STATS FCS Walter Payton Award, which is named for the legendary Hall of Fame running back and since 1987 has honored the offensive player of the year in college football's Division I subdivision.  Winchester is the fourth Blue Devil to appear on the list, joining three former running backs (Justise Hairston, James Mallory and Rob Hollomon).
 
McCarthy Honored as Coach of the Year • Central Connecticut head football coach Ryan McCarthy was named the Gridiron Club of Greater Boston Division I Coach of the Year on Tuesday.  The Gridiron Club presents the award to one Division I (FBS/FCS) and one Division II/III head coach each season.  McCarthy is in his first season as the head coach of the Blue Devils.
 
11 Wins • Only one team in the country has more wins this season than the Blue Devils, #1 North Dakota State (12).  CCSU is 11-1 overall.  James Madison (11) and NDSU (12) are the only other teams in the country with at least 11 wins.  The 11 wins for the Blue Devils is a new school record.
 
No FCS Losses • CCSU is one of just three teams in the country without a loss to an FCS team this season.  CCSU is 11-0 vs. FCS teams, joining North Dakota State and James Madison as teams who have not lost to another FCS program.
 
First Quarters • The Blue Devils have allowed just 23 points in the first quarter this season, including just three points in the last eight games.  Central hasn't allowed a first quarter touchdown during its eight game winning streak, and not since the Eastern Michigan game on Sept. 21.
 
Second Half Scoring • The Blue Devils have allowed just 98 points in the second half this season, outscoring their opponents 225-98 after halftime.
 
Rushing Touchdowns, 33-3 • The Blue Devils have rushed for 33 touchdowns on the season and allowed just three rushing scores.  Both numbers lead the NEC.  
 
McCarthy Gets the Call • Six weeks ago, 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. 
 
Defense #2 in the Country • The Blue Devils come into today's game sporting the #2 defensive unit in the country.  CCSU's defense is 2nd in total yardage (273.3 ypg), 3rd in rushing defense (71.3 ypg), 1st in interceptions (20), 1st in defensive touchdowns (6) and 10th in scoring defense (18.3 ppg).
 
Conference Play • The Blue Devils finished 7-0 in Northeast Conference play in 2019.  CCSU is a league-best 17-2 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 20 interceptions through 12 games this season.  Eleven different players have posted an interception this season.    
 
Defensive Scores • The Blue Devils are tied for first in the nation with six defensive touchdowns this season.  CCSU has returned three interceptions for a score, and three fumbles.  
 
Turnover Margin • The Blue Devils have forced 29 turnovers on the season (and committed just 12) and are first in the country in turnover margin (+1.40 per game). 
 
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's Season • 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 has completed 68 percent of his passes on the season, 160-of-245, for 2,422 yards, 19 touchdowns and just four interceptions.  He is also the leading rusher on the team with 782 rushing yards on 148 carries, good for 5.3 yards per rush, and 8 touchdowns.
 
CCSU WINS SIXTH ON THE ROAD, TOPS DUQUESNE
The Central Connecticut football team moved to 11-1 overall and finished the season a perfect 7-0 in Northeast Conference play with a 43-10 road victory at Duquesne on Saturday.  On Saturday, senior quarterback Aaron Winchester finished the game 9-of-20 for 188 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.  He also rushed the ball 13 times for 57 yards in the win.  Junior Tyshaun James caught two passes for 80 yards and a score.  Junior Danley Exilhomme ran 13 times for 59 yards and two touchdowns.  The Central defense intercepted two more passes, both leading to touchdowns, to push their total to 20 on the season.  
 
KEY MOMENTS
• The Blue Devils took a 6-0 lead on their first offensive drive of the game.  Danley Exilhomme ran it in from four-yards out for the score.  James had a key 34-yard rush in the drive.
• Central scored on its second drive of the game, and led 12-0, after a 23-yard touchdown pass from Winchester to sophomore tight end Theo Zidor.
• Walker scored his fifth touchdown of the season to push the lead to 19-0 in the second quarter.  His scoring run came from 31-yards out.
• Winchester hit James for a 73-yard touchdown strike, the longest pass play of the season for the Blue Devils, to up the lead to 29-10 in the third quarter.
• Junior DJ Exilhomme returned an interception 87-yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to make it 36-10.
 
GAME NOTES
• The Blue Devils didn't allow a point in the first quarter, again.  They allowed only three total points in the first quarter of the last eight games.  They allowed only 23 first quarter points in 12 regular season games. 
• The road win is the sixth of the season for CCSU, the most in school-history and in the country this season, and it's only the second time in league history that an NEC team has won six or more road games (Sacred Heart, 7 in 2001).
• Exilhomme's defensive touchdown was his third of the year and the defense's sixth of the season.
• Central is now 17-2 in its last 19 NEC games.
 
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.
 
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.
 
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 7-3 all-time in overtime including a 38-31 won at home over Saint Francis on Nov. 9, 2019. 

 

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