All posts by tyler roaix

CCSU Wins Four-OT Thriller Against Wagner

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.

NHL Season Preview

by Tyler Roaix

Fall is here and that means the National Hockey League has returned. Not only do we get to watch the stars of the league night in and night out, but now we actually have a new team to watch: the Vegas Golden Knights. The new expansion adds a new wrinkle to the now 31-team league. But we go into this season with the same question as last season: can anyone beat the Pittsburgh Penguins? Here are some teams to look out for.

First up is the two-time defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins. When Mike Sullivan took over as head coach in December of 2015, the Penguins were in the midst of a disappointing season. But since then, the team has posted a .670 win percentage en route to two Stanley Cups. Sidney Crosby has played the best hockey of his career the past two years, cementing himself as the best player of this generation. 2017 will bring much of the same. Crosby, along with Evgeni Malkin and Matt Murray will again lead Pittsburgh deep into a playoff run.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have had some terrible luck on the injury front of late, especially in 2016. Going into last year, the Lightning were the team many experts thought would dethrone the Penguins and make a run at the Cup. But Steven Stamkos, the heart of the team and one of the best overall players in the league, tore his meniscus in November last year and wasn’t able to get back on the ice in time as Tampa missed the playoffs. Looking ahead to this year, that hype has returned. They’re healthy and they have one of the deepest teams in the NHL. If they can keep Stamkos on the ice, Tampa will give Pittsburgh a test in the Eastern Conference Finals.

But a dark horse out of the East is definitely the Toronto Maple Leafs. With a plethora of young talent including Austin Matthews, Will Nylander and Mitch Marner, Toronto was one of the most exciting teams to watch in 2016. The Leafs surprised everyone when they made the playoffs last year, since many thought they were still years away from competing. But taking the Washington Capitals to six games showed the hockey world that they were ready to take the next step. They will do that in 2017. Expect them to compete for a top-four spot and establish themselves as one of the elites.

Moving over to the Western Conference, the Edmonton Oilers begin the year as the favorite to make it to the Stanley Cup. Connor McDavid proved he was one of the game’s best by leading the NHL in points last year. Cam Talbot impressed as goalie last year, and if he can do the same, Edmonton has a great shot at a deep playoff run.

The Nashville Predators went into the playoffs last April as an underdog wild card team. But they lost just four games in the first three rounds, including a sweep of the top-seeded Chicago Blackhawks. But when veteran captain Mike Fisher announced his retirement in the offseason, it left Nashville with a hole that they will have to find a way to fill this year. More responsibility will be placed on star defenseman P.K. Subban to take the reigns and lead the Predators back to the playoffs.

The west has a dark horse of its own in the Dallas Stars. Head coach Ken Hitchcock is beginning his second stint in Dallas, after coaching the Stars in the late 90s. Hitchcock won the Stanley Cup with Dallas in 1999, and has racked up 781 wins in his coaching career, good for fourth all-time. With the spotlight on many of the other favorites, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Benn and the rest of the team have been overlooked. The Stars could be a team to look out for in June.

With so many potential storylines, an expansion team and young teams competing, this has the making to be one of the most exciting seasons in recent memory. Here are some predictions I see happening come playoff-time.

Predictions:

Western Conference Finals – Oilers def. Stars, 4-2

Eastern Conference Finals – Lightning def. Penguins, 4-3

Stanley Cup Final – Lightning def. Oilers, 4-3

The Eastern Conference has the potential to be absolutely electric in the playoffs. If it does end up being Tampa and Pittsburgh playing for a spot in the Stanley Cup Final, expect to have seven hard-fought games that come down to the wire. I think Tampa just barely edges the champs due to the simple fact that it is hard to maintain the level of success Pittsburgh has had over the last two years. After all, the last team to win back-to-back championships before last year’s Penguins was the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. That proves that Pittsburgh had a tall hill to climb this past year. Hockey may very well be the toughest sport to repeat in. So the chances of the Penguins win three consecutive championships are slim.

Tampa is my ultimate champion because they are so stacked from top-to-bottom. Assuming they stay healthy, they will be playing with a chip on their shoulder and Stamkos will capture his first Stanley Cup.

Week Six College Football Recap

by Patrick Gustavson

The outlook for last weekend in college football was not a promising one, with only two match-ups between ranked opponents. Despite this, fans were not disappointed, with upsets and exciting games.

The slate of games kicked off on Thursday with a showdown between ranked ACC opponents. No. 24 North Carolina State took down Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson and No. 17 Louisville. Despite Jackson accounting for three touchdowns, the Cardinals were unable to keep pace with the Wolfpack, who now improve to 3-0 in conference play.

The only other matchup between ranked opponents took place on Saturday when Texas Christian University took on West Virginia. TCU led 7-3 at home, a slow start for both offenses. Both teams showed signs of life in the second half, with TCU taking the game by a score of 31-24. This puts the Horned Frogs in a great position in a hotly contested Big 12 conference, where there is no championship game.

If a victory wasn’t enough, TCU’s outlook improved more when No. 3 Oklahoma was stunned by Iowa State at home, snapping a 14-game winning streak, the longest in the nation. Once down 14 points, the Cyclones stormed back, outscoring the Sooners 25-11 in the second half. To add insult to injury, Iowa State defensive back Evrett Edwards planted an Iowa State flag at midfield, taking a jab at Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield, who did the same following their win at Ohio State.

Oklahoma’s loss not only puts TCU in the driver’s seat, but also opens the door for another team to enter the College Football Playoff picture. That team could be the Georgia Bulldogs, who continued their impressive season by downing Vanderbilt 45-14. Under second-year coach Kirby Smart, the team has excelled on defense, holding all opponents to under 20 points thus far.

However, Oklahoma was not the only undefeated, perennial championship contender to fall. Michigan fell to in-state rivals Michigan State, in what could be called a sloppy game. The Wolverines uncharacteristically turned the ball over five times. Despite this, Michigan State failed to capitalize, with the game coming down to the wire. However, due to poor field conditions, neither team could muster a score late, giving the Spartans the much-needed victory.

Top ranked teams Alabama, Clemson, Penn State and Washington all rolled over their competition, maintaining their undefeated records and status as championship contenders.

Following an embarrassing homecoming loss against Troy, LSU returned to form, marching into Gainesville and squeaking out a victory against a ranked Florida team.

Another team looking for redemption following a treacherous start was Florida State, taking on No. 13 Miami at home. It appeared the Seminoles had pulled off the upset when freshman quarterback James Blackmon connected with Auden Tate for a 20-yard touchdown, going ahead by a score of 20-17. However, Malik Rosier marched the Hurricanes down the field and hit Darrell Langham for the touchdown with just six seconds remaining, once again dooming the Seminoles, who now fall to a disappointing 1-3 in the season.

Perhaps the most exciting game of the week was out of the Mid-American Conference. It was unlikely that any highlights would come out of the matchup between Western Michigan and Buffalo. The two were deadlocked at 31 following regulation, and mayhem ensued in the whopping seven overtime periods, with 67 points scored. Western Michigan went on to win by a jaw-dropping score of 71-68, the most points scored in a game in NCAA history. Buffalo quarterback Drew Anderson threw for an incredible 597 yards and seven touchdowns, and doesn’t even have the win to show for it.

Looking ahead to Week Seven, there is only one matchup of ranked teams, when Utah and USC will meet in a Pac-12 showdown. Despite the lack of quality match-ups, there is always the chance that a top team could get tripped up by an unlikely opponent, and every win matters when trying for a coveted spot in the College Football Playoff.

Women’s Soccer Picks Up First NEC Win

by Tyler Roaix

The Central Connecticut women’s soccer team continued Northeastern Conference play this weekend when they traveled to Fairfield to take on Sacred Heart University.

After dropping their first two games against conference opponents Fairleigh Dickinson and Mount St. Mary’s, the Blue Devils shut out Sacred Heart, 1-0, to earn their first conference victory of 2017.

Central improved their record to 5-7 overall and 1-2 in NEC play in the season. CCSU has now defeated Sacred Heart three times in a row.

Central controlled the tempo in the first half, taking six shots compared to just three from the Pioneers. Central also had three corner kick opportunities in the first half, while Sacred Heart failed to have any. In fact, Sacred Heart didn’t have a single corner kick until the 82nd minute of the game.

Despite having the chances to score, Central struggled to get the ball past Pioneer goalkeeper Nicole Sambuco.

But the Blue Devils were finally able to break through late in the first half off a goal from junior Danielle Pearse in the 43rd minute. The goal came off a cross from senior Brianna Scaldaferri. Pearse was waiting just inside the box, and was able to capitalize for the header.

The goal gives Pearse her third score on the season, while Scaldaferri earned her first assist.

“She’s had a lot of big goals for us this year,” head coach Mick D’Arcy said of Pearse. “She’s a powerful type of forward and not afraid to hit the ball. On this one, she just found herself in some space and took advantage. It was a great ball from Bri as well.”

The Pioneers came out strong in the second half, desperate to tie the game up. They tallied seven shots in the second half alone, more than double their first half total. But despite having the advantage in shot total, Sacred Heart had a lot of missed opportunities. Of their 10 total shots, they managed to land just one on goal.

Melanie DaSilva led the Sacred Heart attack with five of the team’s 10 shots. Pearse and freshman Erica Bardes each took two shots to lead the Blue Devils.

Junior goalkeeper Ashley Cavanaugh added yet another shutout to her belt, giving her five on the season. CCSU is now 5-6 with Cavanaugh in net.

“The life of a goalkeeper is a strange one,” D’Arcy said of the Blue Devils goalie. “She’s a leader back there. We have a very experienced back four all around. She’s had a lot of big saves this year, even in the games we have lost.”

Central’s 1-2 conference record puts them in sixth place in the NEC, very early in conference play. The Blue Devils have to earn a spot in the top four before the season ends to make postseason play.

“Always important to get first one,” D’Arcy said of the team’s first conference win. “We played an even game with FDU last week that could have gone either way. And then the disappointing loss to Mt. Saint Mary’s where we took 24 shots but just couldn’t score. So we had to come back home and deal with being 0-2. We couldn’t afford to lose this one.”

Central will host Saint Francis University and Robert Morris this upcoming weekend at the CCSU Soccer Field. The Blue Devils will first face the first-place Red Flash on Friday, Oct. 13th at 7 p.m.

“It’s going to be really great for us to get back home,” D’Arcy said. “The NEC schedule was not kind to us this year, playing our first three games away. But we are looking forward to the Saint Francis game. They beat us last year in the NEC Championship so we know it will be very competitive.”

The Blue Devils will then battle the last-place Colonials on Sunday, Oct. 15 at noon.

Run Game Leads Blue Devils to Homecoming Win

by Daniel Fappiano

In front of almost 5,000 fans and alumni, the Central Connecticut State University Blue Devils knocked off the Penn Quakers 42-21 to win their 2017 Homecoming game. The win marked the second time in three years that CCSU took home the Homecoming victory.

The Blue Devils win was spearheaded by their efforts in the run game, on both sides of the ball. Central’s offense was able to run the ball at will whereas their defense was able to limit Penn’s rushing attack. Overall, CCSU outgained Penn 294 to 119 on the ground.

For the offense, it was the Cameron Nash show again as the senior rushed 23 times for 119 yards and a touchdown. Nash has now rushed for over 100 yards for three straight games. His 119-yard performance is his second highest of the season and comes one week after Nash ran for 157 yards against Sacred Heart.

The Blue Devils’ star running back has proven to be one of the best in the country, currently sitting first in the Northeast Conference and 13th in the entire FCS with 539 yards rushing.

While Nash continues his breakout season, he remains humble, giving most of the credit to his teammates around him. “Those five guys up front and those guys on the perimeter, we get rolling and guys trusting one another, realizing that we need everyone to make a successful play. That’s what we did today; we trusted one another,” Nash said.

Nash may be the best rusher in the NEC, but CCSU offensive coordinator Ryan McCarthy has found ways to get his other running backs involved. Against Penn, four different players scored on the ground. Outside of Nash, the best performance came from sophomore Drew Jean-Guillaume who rushed 10 times for 76 yards and a score. Jean-Guillaume has scored at least one touchdown the past three games, and was named co-NEC Offensive Payer of the Week following the win over Penn.

Receiver Courtney Rush ran for an eight yard score whereas quarterback Jake Dolegala had an 11 yard scamper of his own to round out the four rushing touchdowns for the Blue Devils.

As a passer, Dolegala had one of his better games of the season. He completed 19 of 24 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown. His touchdown pass went to Jean-Gillaume, which gave the rusher back-to-back two touchdown games.

Dolegala was consistent on his reads and rarely missed his receivers. His 19 completions marked a season high for the junior as Dolegala gone three straight games without an interception.

Central Connecticut’s offense is on the rise as they now sit third in the NEC with 28.7 points per game. Nash and company will look to continue their momentum as they re-enter conference play.

The Blue Devils’ run offense was impressive, but it was their run defense that stole the show against the Quakers.

Going into the matchup, Penn’s run offense was ranked 17th in the Football Championship Subdivision, averaging 233 yards per game. Much of that production came in the form of Karekin Brooks, who had 457 rushing yards, good for 12th in the FCS.

Central Connecticut was able to hold Brooks to just 86 yards on 13 rushes as well as the entire Penn offense to just 119 yards on 25 carries. CCSU was able to swallow up running lanes all game and rarely allowed big gains outside of a 22-yard Brooks run.

While the run defense gets credit for shutting down one of the best rushing attacks in the country, it was the pass defense that made the noise. One week after forcing five turnovers against Sacred Heart, Central’s defense picked off three passes against Penn. Two came against senior Will Fischer-Colbrie with one coming against sophomore Nick Robinson.

The highlight of the bunch was senior Najee Brown’s 79 yard interception return for a touchdown. Brown was able to jump a Fischer-Colbrie pass and run down the sideline for the score. The pick six marks the fourth defensive touchdowns for the Blue Devils this season, giving them the most in all of the FCS.

“It was definitely one of our goals going into the season,” Brown said about the defensive touchdowns. “If we get a fumble, we try to return it, and we work on it every day at practice, to come out here and do it in the game is important.”

CCSU’s defense has forced at least one turnover in every game but one this season. They continue to look improved and have been one of the strengths of the team. If the Blue Devils want to have a shot at the NEC title, the defense must continue to thrive.

With the victory, Central Connecticut is now on their first three game win streak since 2010. Head Coach Pete Rossomando sees the clear difference between this year’s team and CCSU’s teams of the past. “We’re a veteran team, we’ve been around, all these guys have been here. We built the offense around this group of offensive lineman,” Rossomando said. “We’re young but we’re physical, we’re big, they’re smart, they listen, they’re coachable; I know I work with them every single day. Love them, love the way they play the game, love the way they approach the game, they’re never afraid to come out with a challenge.”

More than just the box score, for seniors this was their last Homecoming game. Nash knew how important this game was and how great it is to have had the opportunity to play for Central. “It means a lot, coming from West Virginia to come here, the opportunity that they gave me, I truly believe that that was the best decision of my life, becoming a Blue Devil and just making the most of it.”

Rossomando also saw the importance of getting a Homecoming win, not just for the team but for the school. “Great for our seniors, great for our fans, our alums, we got a lot of alumni here today, a lot of great guys that played in the 70s, the 60s, the 80s, you know it’s great to get them a win, and for Dr. Toro. She had a brutal few weeks with her relatives in Puerto Rico and for her to come home and entertain at a game like this against an Ivy League school, I think it says some great stuff about what we’re doing and what she’s doing and all we can do together.”

The Blue Devils will try to continue their momentum as they re-enter conference play against Wagner, looking to remain atop the NEC standings.