NEW YORK - Ryan McCarthy and Aaron Winchesterâ€™s first game as the head coach and quarterback for the Central Connecticut State football team was certainly a memorable one.
They can thank Francis Cole for that.
The senior kicker connected on a 31-yard field goal as time expired to give CCSU a 26-23 road win at Fordham on Saturday.
Cole had missed two field goal attempts earlier in the game, but he had three tries to hit the game winner. The Rams (0-1) called timeouts on the first attempt (miss) and the second attempt (make), and then made the third for the win.
The Blue Devils (1-0) began their final drive at their own 25 yard line with 1:53 left on the clock and drove down to the Fordham 14 thanks to four completions from Winchester, a pass interference call that took the team to midfield and a 1-yard run from Enyce Walker. Winchesterâ€™s longest pass of the drive was a 28-yard pass to Arthur Gilmore.
â€śWhen you get a 1:40 or whatever we had, you're not playing for overtime,â€ť McCarthy said. â€śWe were going to get the ball down the field and get a field goal or a touchdown. We haven't been real good in two-minute [drill] in preseason camp, Aaron and Arthur Gilmore came up big, and the guys up front, and then, Francis came through. He's a guy who has unbelievable talent and he can put it in the pipes from anywhere.â€ť
Winchester finished the night 11-for-20 for 113 yards, including a 14-yard touchdown pass to Tyshaun James in the second quarter. The graduate transfer from Georgia State also led the Blue Devils in rushing with 108 yards on 14 carries.
James finished with three catches for 32 yards, while Gilmore caught two passes for 38 yards.
CCSU took a 15-6 lead into the locker room at the half thanks to a 34-yard run from Kenyata Huston on the gameâ€™s opening drive and a two-point conversion on a pass from James to Winchester and Jamesâ€™ touchdown in the second quarter. Houston finished with four carries for 49 yards. Emmanuel Scott added 54 more yards on the ground on three carries.
Fordham took a brief lead after scoring 10 unanswered points in the third quarter on a 24-yard field goal form Andrew Mevis and a 14-yard touchdown pass from Tim DeMorat to Hamze El-Zayat at the 2:26 mark. But that was the only time the Blue Devils trailed in the game.
Dexter Lawson picked off DeMorat 51 seconds into the fourth quarter for his first career interception and returned it 48 yards for the touchdown. But the Rams tied the score at 23-23 after another DeMorat touchdown, this one a 13-yard pass to Dequece Carter
DeMorat was 17-for-27 for 194 yards, three touchdowns and the interception.
But Fordham left plenty of time on the clock for Winchester and the offense to drive down the field for Coleâ€™s game-winning field goal.
CCSU will now host Merrimack next Saturday night at 6 p.m. at Arute Field in its home opener. Merrimack won its first game at the FCS level with a 45-14 win over University of Virginia Lynchburg.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org