Category Archives: Football

Colin Kaepernick is Not Dividing People-You Are

by Daniel Bates

As we enter into the sixth week of Colin Kaepernick’s protest against what he sees as wrongdoings against minorities in this country, we’ve heard it all: People are talking, players are talking and the media is talking.

Kaepernick decided that he could not bring himself to stand for the national anthem, due to the social injustices that African Americans and minorities face in this country-specifically, police brutality.

Recently, Fox News’ Brian Kilmeade alluded to the idea that Kaepernick’s protest could lead to “black and white division.” He argued that Kaepernick expressing his views would not only create division between black and white players, but black and white people across the country.

Suppressing opinion is what creates division amongst people, not expressing it. When people are inflexible, stubborn, and think, “This is not a problem,” that is what creates division within society.

With every distracting comment about how Kaepernick’s kneeling is disrespectful to the military, those who criticize him are unjustly projecting what the national anthem means to them and not accepting that it may mean something else to another individual.

Many people are failing to understand that it is possible to simultaneously love the country, and those brave enough to fight for it, while protesting certain aspects in which our country may come up short.

The magnificent Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had it right when he said, “Insulting Colin Kaepernick says more about our patriotism than his.”

Then adding, “One of the ironies of the way some people express their patriotism is to brag about our freedoms, especially freedom of speech, but then brand as unpatriotic those who exercise this freedom to express dissatisfaction with the government’s record in upholding the Constitution.”

Even though Kaepernick has repeatedly stated the great respect he has for our men and women fighting for our country, critics are so wrapped up in trying to suppress his opinion that they are the ones who are actually creating the division by being so rigid.

It seems that whenever a Black American tries to express that things going on aren’t right, they are met with some sort of distracting narrative or blind anger that misses the point. We do not do this to any other group of people who are trying to bring attention to their cause.

“Black Lives Matter,” is retorted by, “All Lives Matter.”

When Colin Kaepernick decided to use his platform to bring awareness to a cause he cares about, it got misconstrued as a bad quarterback trying to stay relevant, or how he is somehow disrespecting the flag and America. Even though Kaepernick eloquently spoke about why he chose to sit during the national anthem after being asked.

It’s like others want black people to peacefully protest, but “not like that.”

Former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura, who wore the uniform, stood in full support of Kaepernick, stating, “That’s why I served my country, so that you have the freedom to protest.”

I guess the real question is which video is more upsetting, seeing Colin Kaepernick take a knee during the national anthem? Or watching Terence Crutcher, Alfred Olango, Keith Lamont Scott, shot dead in the street? Which is more angering? Which is more talked about? Which was tweeted about more? The answers may be depressing.

While Colin Kaepernick may have generated anger with his protest, he also created a discussion between us. It is unwillingness to join the conversation that is creating the real division.


Cowboys Made the Wrong Decision Drafting Ezekiel Elliott

by Dillon Meehan

2015 was a rough year for the Dallas Cowboys. Tony Romo’s shoulder injury sidelined him for 12 games and Dallas finished with a 4-12 record. With Romo set to return with a surgically repaired shoulder, the Cowboys had the number four pick in the draft and had a chance to find the missing piece they needed to solidify their defense and take control of the NFC East. And then they blew it.

Despite having the fourth pick and having plenty of defensive talent, such as DeForest Buckner or Jalen Ramsey on the board, the Cowboys selected Ezekiel Elliott with the fourth overall pick.

Is Elliot a phenomenal player who possesses a unique skillset? Of course, but it was not the right call to make with the fourth pick. Dallas had a lot of production out of Darren McFadden and recently signed Alfred Morris this offseason. In the modern-day NFL, it is important to have a good running game, not necessarily a good running back.

Elliot was given a top-15 grade by most analysts and would likely have been available just outside the top 10. Dallas could have found a way to trade back, acquire future picks and then draft him around nine or ten and have saved cap space as well.

But they didn’t and now Jerry Jones can have his dream of having another set of triplets to haunt opposing defenses. In the 1990s it was Troy Aikman, Michael Irvin and Emmitt Smith. Now it is Tony Romo, Dez Bryant and Ezekiel Elliott. With the Cowboys having arguably the best offensive line in football, there is no doubt Elliot will have success, but the value lost just simply is not worth it.

There is this mentality in the drafting process to take the best player available; most teams follow it while some don’t. The only team that flat-out admits to drafting for need is Seattle. What makes this situation so interesting is that Dallas is not in need of a running back, nor was Elliot the best player available. It was a decision to draft a running back to add to an already stacked position.

There are holes in the secondary, among the defensive line and even in the linebacker corps, which they filled to an extent by drafting Jaylon Smith the following round, but it is unknown if he will return to previous form.

After looking so smart and drafting Zack Martin and Byron Jones with their first pick the past two years, Dallas appeared to have caved in to allow owner Jerry Jones to pick, after having to swallow his pride and watch Johnny Manziel fall to Cleveland two years ago.

While they went for defensive linemen in the third and fourth rounds, it is likely that those picks will see playing time while Randy Gregory and DeMarcus Lawrence are out, but after the first four games, they will likely be fringe players with the potential to become quality rotational players.

Blue Devils Show Progress With Annual Blue-White Game

by Dillon Meehan

With only a handful of months before Central Connecticut’s football season kicks off, the team gathered for their annual Blue-White game. The game that featured the Blue team (offense) against the White team (defense) is less for the players’ benefit than it is a chance for the fans to get excited about the upcoming season.

After spending the past month and a half practicing, the team was able to show off their progress made since last November.

“We made a lot of progress,” said Head Coach Pete Rossomando after the game.

The Blue team was able to defeat the White team 47-25 in a game that awarded each side points for unusual reasons, such as quarterback sacks or first downs.

“Overall, we’re good. Jake has had a really great camp, he has established himself as a starter and we think going forward that he is going to be a guy that is going to help us,” said Rossomando of his starting quarterback.

It has been an interesting year and a half for Jake Dolegala. An injury to fellow freshman Tavion Pauldo gave him the opportunity to split time as the starting quarterback, a position he has since solidified as his own after Pauldo left the team this spring.

“Knowing that the job is mine now, it has settled me down. Allowing me to be myself out there, and not be as nervous,” said Dolegala of winning the position as starting quarterback.

In 11 games last season, Dolegala showed improvements in nearly every game, moving from a quarterback who barely had a grasp of offense to someone who could be relied on to win games.

“It was there in the spring [last year] but a freshman quarterback is a freshman quarterback. It’s still a lot to learn. He did a great job,” said Rossomando. “He got us our first win against Bowie and played every game, valuable experience that you can’t put a price tag on. You can see it in his leadership and his comfort with the offense.”

Dolegala completed 13-20 passes for 174 yards and a touchdown. The highlight of the game was his 52-yard throw to classmate Trey Hodge on a deep post. The following play, Dolegala found sophomore Joey Fields wide open in the end zone for an 18-yard touchdown.

“When I first got out here, the game was so fast. But now playing against our defense, which is one of the best in the conference, it has really slowed down for me,” said Dolegala of his ability to read a defense.

Apart from the improvements on offense, the Blue Devils continue to improve on their stellar defense that is retuning seven players who received All-Conference honors.

“Defensively, we’re really strong right now,“ said Rossomando.

The secondary has been the strongpoint for the Blue Devils during Rossomando’s tenure, and next fall looks as though it may be the best in the conference.

Jevon Elmore, who is entering his senior year, was one of two Blue Devils named to the NEC’s first team All-Conference list. However there is another member of the Blue Devils’ secondary that is challenging for a spot as CCSU’s best defensive back.

Najae Brown, a sophomore safety, was named to the NEC second team last fall, and Rossomando believes he can become the best player in the conference.

Two years ago, Brown was named the Division II Defensive Freshman of the Year while playing for New Haven. When Rossomando left New Haven for CCSU in January 2014, Brown followed and has continued to become a standout player.

“We have a lot of experience coming back this year,” said Brown. “This should be the year where we make that big jump forward. I’m looking forward to the challenge and making that leap.”

CCSU’s season starts out Friday, September 2 when they take on Lafayette at 6:00 p.m.

For Once, Belichick Was Out-Coached

by Dillon Meehan

Heading into Sunday’s AFC Championship Game, the narrative surrounding the final meeting between Brady and Manning was that the Patriots, despite poor play for the last half of the season, were going to easily take care of the Broncos. Fast forward to today, and a pair of coaches who were unemployed and kicked to the curb years ago thoroughly outsmarted the greatest mastermind of this generation. In fact, they out-coached him.

Broncos head coach Gary Kubiak and his defensive coordinator Wade Phillips were both fired in 2014 from those same positions they hold now, when they led the Houston Texans to an abysmal 2-14 performance. When Kubiak became the Broncos’ head coach last January, he brought his old defensive coordinator back after being out of the league for a year. It appears as though the decision to hire Phillips was the right one, despite all of the flak the organization received from the media.

Apart from the narrative regarding the game being a breeze for New England, another narrative was the Broncos’ inability to score, with many pundits believing 21 points was the cap for the team. Because of this, Bill Belichick, who usually defers for the second half, opted to take the ball first. Showing that the Pats were averting from their usual game plan.

From the opening snap, it became apparent that Patriots offensive tackles Sebastian Vollmer and Marcus Cannon simply could not contain either DeMarcus Ware or Von Miller. And the Patriots elected to not keep a running back or tight end to help chip in, forcing Cannon and Vollmer to do an impossible task. Miller was a force for three and a half quarters, where as Ware took over in the final quarter and it became apparent that the future Hall of Famer had Brady’s snap count figured out.

Brady was hit 23 times Sunday; that’s the highest total number since they started tracking the stat a decade ago. For perspective, Brady was only hit 14 times during the entire 2014 post-season run and was only hit once last week against Kansas City.

The Broncos’ bombardment got into Brady’s head and forced him into making even quicker decisions, including the interception to Von Miller, which lead to the Broncos’ second score.

The Patriots wasted little time finding a scapegoat; offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo was let go Monday night, just 24 hours following the game.

Because of the pressure Miller and Ware were creating, this allowed Phillips to create exotic defensive fronts to hide their coverage’s and often times only bring three or four defenders, while keeping seven or eight back in coverage. The Broncos blitzed 42 percent of the time, the fourth most in the regular season. But on Sunday, the Broncos only blitzed on 16 percent of drop backs — that’s the lowest amount in nine years for a Wade-Phillips-coached team.

The lack of blitzing defenders allowed for the Broncos to focus on the Patriots’ offensive weapons. On a third of Brady’s dropbacks, the Broncos only brought three defenders allowing an eight player in coverage. This often meant Rob Gronkowksi was being double-, if not triple-teamed, forcing Brady to hold onto the ball and take hits.

It is a rare occasion to see Belichick and offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels out-coached so badly. There have been times where they made the wrong play or underestimated their opposition, but never for a full 60 minutes. That was ultimately the Patriots undoing.

As for Denver, Carolina’s offensive line is nowhere near as bad as the Patriots, which is going to put more pressure on Peyton Manning and the Broncos to score several times against a defense that just picked off Carson Palmer four times and forced seven turnovers.

Although it would be a great story for Manning to win the Super Bowl at 39 and retire just like his boss John Elway, it’s tough to imagine a scenario where it would happen against a strong all-around team like the Panthers. However, that was the narrative last week as well.

The Mark Richt Firing Proves Everything That is Wrong With College Football

by Dillon Meehan

In today’s win-now mentality that has become college football, coaches are under as much pressure now than ever before.

That statement could not be any more apparent with the decision Georgia Bulldogs made Sunday night, when it was announced that Mark Richt had decided to “step down” less than 24 hours after beating in-state rival Georgia Tech for the thirteenth time in his 15 seasons with Georgia.

Throughout his decade and a half tenure with the Bulldogs, Richt compiled a record of 145-51, (.750 win percentage) as well as an 83-37 Southeastern Conference (SEC) (.70 win percentage) record, which is simply appealing that his winning percentage was that high considering how the SEC has dominated the college football landscape during his entire tenure. Not only did he do it in the nation’s best conference, but he did it the right way. He ran a clean program. Whenever a player was involved in an NCAA violation or legal issue, they were always dealt appropriate punishments, which usually resulted in being removed from the team. That type of behavior doesn’t work at any other college (see Charlie Strong at Texas).

When I saw the notification pop up on my phone, I really wasn’t too surprised, which was the worst part. Richt has the fifth highest winning percentage for active coaches only behind Urban Myer, Bob Stoops, Gary Patterson and Nick Saban – which is a somewhat decent group of coaches to be associated with. But Georgia somehow believes they can do better. It is hard to imagine another coach being as successful given the situation Richt is in – but don’t worry, college Athletic Directors don’t have enough brain power to possibly put rational thought into something. I mean after all, Les Miles nearly lost his job this week as well, and to be honest, he’s not out of the woods yet.

Nick Saban voiced a similar opinion when he was asked what he thought about the firing, telling a reporter, “I don’t know what the world’s coming to in our profession.”

One thing that is always fun to think about is to imagine if NFL executive’s handled their coaches in the same way college Athletic Directors did. Jeff Fisher has somehow found a way to be considered a legitimate NFL coach despite only finishing with a winning record in six of his 20 seasons as an NFL Head Coach. If he were a college coach, he would’ve been fired during the Clinton administration.

Reports now suggest that Maryland is the favorite to land Richt, which is simply appalling that one of the most respectable men in the entire sport is being reduced to a team that hasn’t won a conference title since 2001.

However, as disrespectful and downright stupid as it is, I still cannot say I am surprised at how Richt has been handled. It’s tough to imagine any other job in the country in which if you do it better than everyone else in the world except for five people, you are fired without a moments notice.

Hollomon Carries Blue Devils over Rams

by Sean Begin

After three straight losses following the opening week upset victory on the road of ranked Towson, Central Connecticut football needed something big to lift them up heading into the bye week.

They got that spark from senior running back Rob Hollomon.

Hollomon ran for a single-game career-high 238 yards (including two huge touchdown runs of 54- and 74-yards) in Central’s 38-14 drubbing of the University of Rhode Island on Saturday, en route to eclipsing 3,000 career rushing yards. He is the third Blue Devil of all time to reach that mark.

“It’s great for him because he’s been frustrated a little bit,” said head coach Pete Rossomando. “The great thing about Rob is he just keeps going and going and going. Whatever we want to do, he’ll do it. He’s been great with that stuff. It’s just a matter of making sure he stays calm.”

“I work hard just like everyone else on my team. My coaches put me in a great position to continue to have success,” said Hollomon after the game. “I’m proud, I’m happy. It’s a great feeling anytime you can move up in the record books. It shows your hard work paying off.”

The Blue Devil offense has struggled during the last three games, since the surprising upset of Towson to open the season. But, thanks to good offensive line play, Hollomon was able to find some holes to exploit against the URI defense.

“I love my offensive line. I talk with those guys every day on the little things,” said Hollomon. “I try to keep them motivated and let them know all I need is a little bit and I’ll make you guys the number one offensive line out there. We have fun with it.”

Hollomon had 74 yards rushing heading into the first half on 16 carries, a 4.6 per carry clip. The big rush of the first half, though, came from junior quarterback Nick SanGiacomo, who rushed for a 38-yard touchdown. It was the first time all season Central scored the first points of the game.

Hollomon finally broke through in the second half with his two TD runs. The scores came within 1:53 of each other, blowing the game wide open. Central added another couple scores on a SanGiacomo pass to junior wideout Aaron Berardino and a 7-yard rush by backup QB Quinn Fleeting, the first of his career.

Saturday’s contest was a far cry from the team’s first game at Arute Field this season, when they were shutout by Albany. It also marks the continued improvement of the offense since then; this was the second straight game scoring at least 25 points.

“I really think we’re getting better. Every week I thought we we’re making strides,” said Rossomando. “It wasn’t showing up really on the scoreboard but I thought we we’re getting better. We still are. We’ve got a lot of room for improvement, especially offensively but I think we’re getting there.”

Getting Hollomon past the first level of the defense and into open space was just one step to finding a smooth flowing offense. Getting junior quarterback Nick SanGiacomo acclimated to Rossomando’s system was another.

“He’s getting more comfortable with what we’re doing,” said Rossomando of his starting QB. “We’re shrinking the package a little bit. It’s in his comfort zone. He’s been doing a great job preparing each and every week. He didn’t do a great job in the red zone last week but he played well overall in the game.”

SanGiacomo finished the game 15-for-23 with 148 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He also ran for 43 yards and a score.

With the offense clicking, pressure to perform was taken off the shoulders of the defense, which managed to hold URI to just 14 points and less than 300 total yards of offense. The Rams were limited to just 60 rushing yards all game.

“They [the defense] played great,” said Rossomando. “Even the last drive that was mostly our backups and third-string guys, just trying to get them some reps and rest some of our guys who have played a lot of snaps so far this year. Defense was outstanding I’m so proud of those guys.”

Central was led by senior Shawn Robinson and sophomore Julian Grant, who each had six tackles in the game. The Blue Devils sacked the URI quarterback three times, with solo sacks coming from sophomore Asia Bolling and freshman Shacor Privott. Central also had two turnovers: an interception by sophomore Ahmond Gomez and a forced fumble by Andrew Murdock.

The Blue Devils will return to action following their bye week, when they take on Duquesne on Saturday, October 11 in the annual Homecoming Game.

Blue Devils Come Up Short On Homecoming, Duquesne Wins Its First at Arute Field

by Dillon Meehan

Central Connecticut football struggled offensively for most of its rainy homecoming game Saturday against Duquesne. But two late fourth quarter drives saw the Blue Devils nearly mount a ferocious comeback before falling to the Dukes 28-20.

“We didn’t battle early enough,” said head coach Pete Rossomando. “If we’d battled in the third quarter we would have been in it instead of fighting from behind.”

With just under eight minutes left in the fourth, the Blue Devils trailed Duquesne (4-2, 1-0 NEC) 28-13. Blue Devil junior quarterback Nick SanGiacomo found sophomore tight end Matt Braddock for a career long 51-yard reception, setting up senior running back Rob Holloman to punch it in from 13 yards out to cut the lead to eight.

After a short kickoff return, the CCSU defense forced a three-and-out by Duquesne, highlighted by a sack from senior linebacker Josh Alaeze, forcing the Dukes to hand the ball back to the Blue Devils with five minutes left to play.

With the ball at the Duquesne 48-yard line, Central again began its comeback attempt.

On first down, Holloman broke free for a 23-yard run. SanGiacomo then found Braddock for a 15-yard gain. After a short Hollomon run to put the ball on the seven-yard line, the Blue Devils had three chances to score. But three straight incompletions from SanGiacomo to Tyrell Holmes forced CCSU to turn the ball over on downs, ending the hope of a comeback.

“We just continued to fight,” said Hollomon of the comeback effort. “The ball didn’t fall our way but we have to keep fighting to go in the right direction.”

The Dukes’ high-powered offense ended up being too much for the Blue Devils to handle. Duquesne quarterback Dillon Buechel threw for 333 yards and four touchdowns, three of which went to Chris King, who finished with nine catches for 147 yards.

Offensively, the Blue Devils were one-dimensional: SanGiacomo was just 9-for-22 for 125 yards with an interception. Despite the passing woes, Holloman ran for 131 yards and a touchdown on 28 carries. He finished with 198 all-purpose yards.

Holloman reached another milestone in the loss. Just two weeks after breaking 3,000 career-rushing yards, he crossed the 5,000 all-purpose yard mark for his career. He is now just 81 yards short of shy of Stan House’s CCSU record of 3,347 rushing yards.

Duquesne started off strong against CCSU after Devin Rahming made a leaping catch to save the drive on a third-and-six play; Buechel then hit Rahming again for another big gain of nearly 30 yards to the 21-yard line. Buechel, after a run fake, threw to a wide-open Chris King who made a nice double move for 21-yard touchdown.

However, CCSU immediately answered. SanGiacomo found Holloman on a short throw, which picked up over 25 yards after the catch for a 30-yard gain. Brenden Lytton came in to replace Holloman and took off 39 yards to tie the game at seven. It was Lytton’s first touchdown of his career.

The Dukes’ second score came after SanGiacomo had his pass intercepted by Malik Shegog. The Dukes drove down the field and Buechel found King on a slant from seven yards out for his second score of the game.

Down 14-7 with less than four minutes in the first half, the CCSU defense gave the offense a chance to tie it up. With the ball deep in their own zone, the Dukes handed the ball off to Rafiq Douglas who was instantly hit by senior safety Chris Abner and forced a fumble, which was recovered by CCSU at the 10-yard line. The Dukes defense was stout and held the Blue Devils to an Ed Groth field goal to make it 14-10 with just under a minute and a half left to play.

Duquesne made it a two score game in the third quarter after an 85-yard drive that included big throws to Dave Thomas and King for 23 and 39 yards, respectively. Buechel found Rahming in the end zone to make it 21-10.

Groth cut the deficit to eight after a 24-yard field goal; it was set up after Duquesne’s Trenton Cole was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for shoving Holmes to the ground. It marked the first time Groth has had two field goals in the same game this season.

Duquesne’s final score came after another long drive. Douglas had two first down runs, one going for 21 yards. Buechel then found Chris King who made an impressive leaping grab for a 20-yard touchdown — his third — making it 28-13.

Central will look to bounce back next Saturday on the road at Robert Morris (0-6, 0-1 NEC).

Central Football Struggles to Find Answers

by Sean Begin

The game for Central Connecticut football on Saturday will be recorded as another notch in the ‘L’ column, but after weeks of small gains it was a frustrating loss for head coach Pete Rossomando.

“We just didn’t make enough plays,” he said after the game. “It was a calamity of errors.”

Rossomando, in his first year as head coach of the Blue Devils (2-6, 0-3 NEC), has been finding the silver linings in his team’s performance each week. But after a 20-10 loss to Wagner over the weekend, he didn’t have an answer for the team’s struggle to find a win.

“It’s a weird team. I’ve tried every angle,” he said. “I’ve tried hard, I’ve tried backing off and having fun. They’re responding, they try at times, they just don’t play four quarters.”

The offense had a few bright moments against a good defensive team in Wagner (4-3, 2-0 NEC). Senior wide receiver Tyrell Holmes had his best day of the season, racking up 165 yards on seven catches, including a 69-yard touchdown catch.

But the offensive line struggled to keep the Seahawk defenders from getting into the backfield, stopping the running attack from Central’s all-time leading rusher Rob Hollomon and putting pressure on junior quarterback Nick SanGiacomo.

“Hard to do anything when you can’t block anybody. There were guys in the backfield on the snap,” said Rossomando. “We haven’t been good all year. Just have a great running back who makes us look good sometimes.”

Rossomando, though, is quick to place blame on himself and his coaching staff. “Obviously, we’re not coached well because we’re not getting better. We have to do a better job,” he said.

Central managed to keep things close through the first half. Neither team managed to break 200 yards of offense before halftime. Rossomando credited his defense for keeping the game close and giving the offense a shot.

“We had a couple chances [offensively] in the first half, but nothing ever materialized once we got down close,” he said. “That’s a coaching thing. We have to do a better job of communicating what we need to do. I don’t know how we can do it anymore than we already do, but we can try and simplify it even more.”

While Rossomando looks for a different way to deliver his message, Holmes is looking for better communication on the offense.

“We shot ourselves in the foot a lot,” he said of the offense’s performance on Saturday. “Whether it be quarterback with receiver, line with quarterback, as a whole unit we’re just not communicating well. We’re not getting the job done.”

While communication may be an issue, Rossomando knows there’s more to it than that. “There’s only so much talking you can do. Eventually, you have to get out there and play,” he said.

The team may be struggling, but it isn’t from a lack of effort. For Rossomando, it’s a matter of being mentally focused for an entire game.

“It’s an execution of the mental part of the play. The [team’s] attitude is fine. They get out there and practice and guys are trying to get out there even if they’re dinged up. They’re doing the right things.”

“But,” he added, “they lose focus at one point against a good team and all of a sudden you turn around and you’re down 17-7 and you ask how did that happen? And that happens because you lose focus, and it happens really quick.”

The team currently sits in last place in the Northeast Conference, but a conference win has to come first before the team can entertain any thought of a miracle run.

“It sucks that we’re not winning,” said Holmes. “At the end of the day, that’s what we’re out there to do is win. So I’m not satisfied. And I know the coaches and the rest of our team aren’t satisfied.”

The Blue Devils are on the road this week against top seed Bryant before they return home to Arute Field on Nov. 8 for the first of two straight home games against Sacred Heart and non-conference opponent Howard.

Football Falls Short in Shootout With Sacred Heart

by Dillon Meehan

A shootout in the last conference home game of the season ended with the football team on the wrong side of the win/loss column.

Central Connecticut (2-8, 0-5 NEC) fell to Sacred Heart (8-2, 4-1 NEC) 35-27 on Saturday afternoon at Arute Field to remain winless in Northeast Conference play this season.

“The kids did what they did all year, they found a way,” Pioneers head coach Mark Nofri said of his team after the win.

Sacred Heart quarterback RJ Noel threw for 327 yards and five scores, mostly to Southington’s Tyler Dube, who had 12 receptions for 111 yards and two touchdowns.

Dube was excited to play well so close to his hometown and talked about it after the game. “It felt pretty good,” he said. “I’ve been thinking about it all week. It’s always good to have a homecoming.”

Blue Devil running back Brenden Lytton, filling in for an injured Rob Holloman, ran for 193 yards and touchdowns on 30 carries in the loss.

“Coach just calls my number and I do what I have to do,” Lytton said when asked about his impressive play.

The first quarter was mostly a defensive battle between both sides but special teams played a major role, with Central’s Matt Braddock recovering a fumbled punt return by Sacred Heart in Pioneers territory. However, the Blue Devils could not capitalize and turned the ball over after Brenden Lytton was stopped short of the goal line on fourth down.

Central bounced back and was able to score first after sophomore linebacker Keir Minor blocked Jamie Ross’s punt. Josh Alaeze recovered it in the end zone for a touchdown with 1:33 left in the opening quarter.

The first quarter ended with Central up 7-0, marking only the third time the Pioneers were held scoreless in the first quarter this season.

Special teams continued to play a major role into the second quarter.

After a short punt by CCSU’s Ed Groth, the Pioneers took over at the Blue Devil’s 40-yard line. The Pioneers used a mix of running and passing plays to get the ball down to the Blue Devil two-yard line. Noel faked a quarterback draw and made a jump pass to a wide open Tim Goodwin for a score to tie it up at seven.

The Pioneers took over again a few plays later after a Lytton fumble, and Noel found Jackson King on a fade route for his second score of the game and the lead with 8:43 left in second quarter.

The Blue Devils bounced back a few minutes later after junior linebacker CJ Morrison intercepted Noel’s pass and was taken down at the 32 yard line. Two plays later, Lytton took a handoff 32 yards for a score to tie the game at 14.

The Pioneers put themselves ahead again after a long drive, capped off when Noel found Dube with a seven-yard back shoulder fade for a touchdown to take a 21-14 lead in the final minute of the first half.

The Blue Devils had a chance to cut the lead to four, but Groth missed two field goals in the final seconds. The first was from 37 yards out but a Pioneers player was offsides, setting up a 32-yard attempt that was also wide right.

The Blue Devils were able to score first in the second half.

After getting favorable field position due to a fair catch interference penalty, CCSU had the ball at midfield. The Blue Devils promptly drove downfield with a big run by Lytton, followed by a 29-yard Tyrell Homes reception, who ran out of bounds at the 13 yard line.

Junior quarterback Nick SanGiacomo then found Holmes again from five yards out for a touchdown to tie the game at 21 with just under 11 minutes left in the third quarter.

When the fourth quarter started, both the Pioneers and Blue Devils traded big plays in attempts to pull away with the win.

Sacred Heart’s Moses Webb took a short pass from Noel and immediately ran up field and sped past two defenders en route to a 63-yard touchdown to take a seven point lead with under 14 minutes left in the game.

CCSU immediately answered back with a 54-yard touchdown run by Lytton, however Groth missed the extra point attempt and CCSU trailed Sacred Heart 28-27.

The missed extra point was crucial, especially after Sacred Heart drove all the way down the field and Noel found Dube, who made an impressive catch over a defender for an 18-yard score to put the Pioneers up for good.

Central returns to Arute Field for their final home game of the season on Saturday, when they take on Howard at 1 p.m.

Gurley Injury Shines Further Light on NCAA Flaws

by Sean Begin

The firestorm surrounding the NCAA and the level of control they have over the players’ ability to profit from their name has been under siege from not only a large number of journalists but from the general public as well.

And on Saturday, yet another player will become the focal point for those who view the NCAA system as the financial churn-house it really is.

Georgia running back Todd Gurley entered 2014015 as a preseason favorite to win the Heisman Trophy. Through Georgia’s Oct. 4 game against Vanderbilt, Gurley’s more than 154 yards per game on the ground and eight touchdowns had him leading the Heisman pack.

But then on Oct. 9 two days before Georgia’s game against Missouri, Gurley was outed by a vindictive autograph collector who had paid Gurley for his signature. Georgia promptly suspended Gurley indefinitely, a suspension which was extended to four games in late October by the NCAA after Gurley had already sat out two.

On top of the suspension, Gurley was required to pay back a portion of the money he had received (about $4,000) to a charity of his choice and serve 40 hours of community service.

That’s 40 hours on top of the 50-60 he’s putting in on the football practice field and the uncounted hours he may be spending in the classroom.

While the punishment itself is wildly disproportionate to Gurley’s supposed “crime,” there wasn’t much he could do to change it. The NCAA has always operated as judge, jury and executioner for the “student-athletes” that shoulder the money-making burden for those in power.

On Saturday, Gurley returned to the field against Auburn. With just over minutes to play and Georgia up by 20, Gurley was injured on a six-yard rush. Sunday reports surfaced he was done for the year with an ACL tear.

Modern medicine has turned an ACL tear from a career ending injury to merely a season ending one. Odds are good Gurley will get healthy and play again. As a junior he might just declare for the draft and take his chances in the pros.

But his injury comes less than two weeks after Marcus Lattimore announced his retirement from the NFL before ever playing a game. Lattimore was a shot in the dark when he was drafted by the 49ers in 2013, coming off ACL and MCL tears to both his left knee in 2011 and his right knee in 2012.

Between his signing bonus, salary and an insurance policy, Lattimore made just under $3 million in his football career. And while that’s still a lot of money, it’s definitely not proper compensation for the horrific injuries he sustained playing for free for the University of South Carolina.

Gurley’s injury doesn’t mean he’ll follow Lattimore’s path. Lattimore was a unique situation, a path that, in the end, had too many obstacles for Lattimore to get past. Sometimes the damage is too much.

Gurley’s injury is just another small spotlight on the meat grinder that has become college football and another shining example of why players deserved to get paid.