by Daniel Fappiano
After four overtimes and almost four hours of football, Central Connecticut State knocked off Wagner 51-45, to earn their second Northeast Conference win. The victory keeps the Blue Devils tied atop the NEC with Duquesne and Saint Francis; who also sit at 2-0 in conference play.
It was a tale of two halves for the Blue Devils, who went into halftime with a 27-14 lead. However, coming out of the break it was all Wagner, as the Seahawks scored 13 unanswered points to head into OT.
Both teams traded blows until running back Cameron Nash landed the final punch with a two yard touchdown run in the fourth overtime.
Overall, Nash had one of his best games of the season, rushing 24 times for 104 yards and three scores. The three touchdowns marked his highest total of the season, whereas his yardage put him over 100 for the fourth game in a row.
For the season, Nash remains first in the NEC and jumps to eighth in the entire Football Championship Subdivision with 643 rushing yards. Nash also leads the NEC and is tied third highest in the FCS with eight rushing touchdowns.
In what has become a weekly occurrence for the Blue Devils, the team is able to spread the wealth at running back, even with Nash performing at the highest level. Against Wagner, four different players received at least five carries, including sophomore Enyce Walker, who scored his first touchdown of the season.
Head Coach Pete Rossomando knew how important it was to have a stable of potent running backs, especially during a tight game in overtime. Rossomando spoke after the game about his team in a video on the @ccsubluedevils Instagram account. “It’s great to be able to hand (Nash) the ball and both Drew (Jean-Guillaume) and Walker had a great run in that overtime period to get us close. All three guys are doing a great job, offensive line played great down the stretch.”
The run game has been the Blue Devils’ strength during their four-game win streak. Nash and company have been able to carry the offense. They’ll look to continue that momentum as they attempt to improve on their longest win streak since 2010.
As for the passing game, quarterback Jacob Dolegala struggled against Wagner, completing just 10 of 22 passes for 173 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. One of his picks was brought back for a touchdown, tying the game in the fourth quarter. Dolegala had gone three straight games without an interception prior to this performance.
As CCSU gets deeper into conference play, it will be crucial for Dolegala to limit the turnovers. If Nash continues to run the ball as he is, the Blue Devils offense could be scary going forward. Currently Central Connecticut sits second in the NEC with 31.9 points scored per game.
The moral of the story on defense for CCSU, has been defensive touchdowns. Coming into Wagner, they were tied atop the NEC with four defensive scores. Against the Seahawks, junior Tymir Hinton made sure Central Connecticut State had the top spot all to themselves.
Late in the second quarter, Hinton intercepted a pass from quarterback Luke Massei and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown. It was the biggest play of CCSU’s season, putting them in sole possession of most defensive touchdowns in the FCS with five. Hinton’s efforts earned him an award for NEC Defensive Player of the Week.
Central’s Jarrod Cann picked off another pass at the start of the fourth overtime, leading to Central’s eventual victory. The pick also gave the Blue Devils at least two turnovers forced in the past four games.
While the pass defense made the flashy plays, it was the run defense that shined once more. After holding Penn to just 119 yards rushing one week prior, Central Connecticut allowed just 103 yards on the ground against Wagner.
Overall, CCSU was able to limit the run game and come away with turnovers, things the Blue Devils are accustom to at this point of the season.
Central Connecticut State hasn’t played in an overtime game since 2013. With the NCAA changing their overtime rules in 2016, the Blue Devils have never played in a four overtime game. Coach Rossomando knew how crazy, but just how important this game was for CCSU. “That was pretty long and pretty exciting, it was fun. It was great at the end, our kids played hard. Great for our guys, just a great win for our team.”
Central Connecticut State is having their best season since 2010. They’ll look to continue their momentum as they take on the Bryant Bulldogs at home next week. A win would keep them undefeated atop the NEC conference.