NEW BRITAIN - Coming out of the bye week and in midst of a five-game winning streak, the Central Connecticut State football team didn’t miss a beat against St. Francis (PA) Saturday afternoon.
The Blue Devils’ defense had one of its best performances of the season, forcing four turnovers, in a 28-10 win to guarantee the program its first winning season since 2010.
All four of CCSU’s touchdowns came off those turnovers, three by the offense with the fourth touchdown coming on as the result of a fumble forced by defensive back Carlton Nash after stripping Red Flash tailback Joel Denley in his end zone.
“I thought this is the best performance we did all year,” Nash said. “We held them to one touchdown. We wanted to shut them out but they have a great offense and great players but I think we did a good job holding them to 10 points.”
With St. Francis, the offensive game plan was no secret - the Red Flash was going to target star receiver Kamron Lewis.
Last year, Lewis had his way with the Blue Devils’ secondary catching eight passes with 189 yards and a touchdown. It was a different story this time around as CCSU held Lewis to a season-low 28 receiving yards on four catches.
“We didn’t play a lot of man, which we did last year [against him] and it burnt us a lot,” Blue Devils head coach Pete Rossomando said. “We got after the quarterback. When the ball that’s throwing the ball can’t sit in the pocket it’s tough to get the ball to any receiver the ball.”
With Lewis shut down, St. Francis quarterback Bear Fenimore struggled. When he wasn’t forcing the ball to Lewis, he failed to connect on most passes and finished just 9-for-17 with 32 passing yards and an interception. The only source of offense for St. Francis was with Joel Denley running the ball. He finished with 59 rushing yards on nine carries.
The three offensive touchdowns by the Blue Devils were helped out by the defense as CCSU’s three scoring touchdowns came on field lengths of 10, 47 and 32 yards.
“All year we’ve been emphasizing getting turnovers and scoring on defense to help out our offense,” Nash said.
Blue Devils quarterback Jacob Dolegala (15-of-22 for 131 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions) was inconsistent in the contest, but didn’t need to do much as CCSU controlled the ground game.
The Blue Devils had a team total of 141 rushing yards in the game and leading rusher Cameron Nash averaged 4.4 yards per carry with a rushing touchdown. He finished with 22 carriers for 93 yards.
Nash, a smaller back, was consistently running in between the tackles and making sharp cuts to get extra yardage.
Much of the credit can be given to the offensive line that opened up holes for Nash and also kept Dolegala off the ground, as he wasn’t sacked once in the game.
“We wanted to come out here and just play physical football,” Cameron Nash said. “We knew that’s how we were going to win the game. We also wanted to pass the ball so we could be more balanced but it turned out that we were making more plays in the running game.”
With the win, the Blue Devils moved to 6-3, 4-0 on the season after starting out 0-3 and next week’s game against Duquesne will be the biggest game of the season as both teams battle for control of the Northeast Conference
Dan Orencole can be reached at 860-973-1811 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @OrencoleDan