Category Archives: Football

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.

Howard Score 21 Unanswered, Steal Win on Senior Night

by Dillon Meehan

By the time the final whistle blew Saturday night, long after the crowd had cheered on their departing seniors, and what felt like a long time after Central had been up a comfortable 18 points, the Howard Bison were walking off the field victorious.

The Blue Devils (2-9, 0-5 NEC) had led Howard (4-7, 2-5 MEAC) 25-7 midway through the third quarter. But the Bison scored 21 unanswered points over the next fifteen-plus minutes to beat Central 28-25 on Senior Night.

“These guys are all great. They really worked their asses off and I have a lot of respect for them,” Blue Devils head coach Pete Rossomando said of his seniors.

The focal point of both offenses on Saturday night was the running game. Both teams ran for nearly two hundred yards each in a game that featured nearly nine hundred yards of total offense combined.

Bison senior quarterback Greg McGhee threw for 216 yards and a touchdown. McGhee also added 119 yards and three scores on the ground.

Blue Devils senior quarterback Nick SanGiacomo threw for 279 yards and three touchdowns in his final game at Arute field. Fellow senior Rob Holloman had 233 all-purpose yards and one score in his last home game.

“It’s real tough, everyone wants to win on senior day,” said senior wide receiver Tyrell Holmes.

Howard started off strong with an 11-play, 78-yard drive that was capped off when McGhee hit wide receiver Stewart Hartman, who split two defenders and spun out of another tackle for a 17-yard touchdown.

The Blue Devils immediately bounced back, however.

SanGiacomo found Holloman on a screen pass on first down, who ran 71 yards for a touchdown, the longest reception of his career. The Blue Devils took a 9-7 lead after a 19-yard Ed Groth field goal with just after a minute left in the quarter.

Howard had an opportunity to take a lead but John Fleck’s 26-yard field goal attempt was blocked by junior linebacker Chris Abner, and then recovered by senior Josh Alaeze at the 17-yard line.

After a 44-yard run by Brenden Lytton to the 16-yard line, the Blue Devils thought they had scored when Matt Braddock hauled in a touchdown reception but it was called back due to offensive pass interference. Central nearly scored again but Brandon Holloman dropped a touchdown pass instead settling for a 24-yard field goal.

Following another John Fleck missed field goal, big receptions from Holloman, Lytton and Holmes had the Blue Devils in Bison territory. SanGiacomo found junior tight end Brenden Cullen wide open for a 17-yard touchdown to take a 19-7 lead going into halftime.

The Blue Devils got the ball to start the second half, and picked up right where they left off. The Blue Devils quickly drove down the field, highlighted by a Scott Benzing throw downfield to Holmes, who made the catch in traffic at the 10-yard line.

A few players later, SanGiacomo found Holmes for a four-yard touchdown pass.

After forcing Howard to punt, CCSU took over midway through the third quarter looking to put the game out of reach. But SanGiacomo handed the ball off to Lytton who fumbled, recovered by Bison sophomore defensive end Marquese Blanchard at CCSU’s 40-yard line.

“Guys stopped playing smart,” Holmes said after the game.

Howard took advantage of the short field and McGhee scored on a 2-yard touchdown to cut the lead to 25-14, with four minutes left in the third quarter.

After another punt, Howard once again had a short field and McGhee continued to gash the defense, converting for third down with his legs twice en route to a 12-yard touchdown run that cut the lead to five. The Bison went for two but McGhee’s pass fell incomplete.

The Bison got the ball on the 50-yard line after another short Groth punt. William Parker took a handoff from McGhee and picked up 30 yards after breaking several tackles and was brought down at the 5-yard line.

McGhee finished the drive with his third rushing touchdown from seven yards out to take the lead for the first time since 10:47 in the first quarter. Howard then completed the two-point conversion on a play action pass to Parker to make it 28-25, holding on for the road victory against Central.

The Blue Devils will play their final game of the season next Saturday at noon at St. Francis (Pa.).

The NFL’s Domestic Violence Problem

by Sean Begin

It was not a good week for the NFL, which means it was a great week for the NFL.

From the abysmal handling of former Ravens running back Ray Rice to Adrian Peterson beating his son with a switch, the NFL has been under fire for its handling of domestic violence issues.

The league has been hammered from all types of media: not just the usual sports media suspects like ESPN and Sports Illustrated, but major news organizations as well, have called out the NFL on it’s deafness to a growing problem.

In an article by Benjamin Morris of FiveThirtyEight, domestic violence accounts for 48 percent of violent crime arrests in the NFL, compared to just 21 percent for the general population.

These numbers, coupled with the ineptitude in handling instances of domestic violence, have pushed the issue right into Commissioner Roger Goodell’s lap.

Goodell’s initial two-game suspension of Ray Rice for knocking his then-fiancee unconscious and dragging her from an elevator was swiftly met with outrage from many in the media as well as domestic violence organizations.

Goodell defended the initial suspension saying it fell in line with other first-time offenders. Yet, as Rice was receiving his suspension, Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon was getting one as well: a full year for violating the league’s drug policy by having marijuana in his system.

The disparity between the two punishments was obvious — that one should warrant two games’ suspension for hitting someone so hard they were rendered unconscious and another in which smoking weed results in a season’s hiatus.

The league quickly changed its policy, increasing the punishment to six games for a first-time offender and a lifetime ban for a repeat offender. While some called for an instant lifetime ban, the NFL has long had a second-chance attitude towards its players. Just see Michael Vick.

It wasn’t until the footage from the elevator that showed Rice hitting his then-fiancee (the two are now married) that the NFL really acted, suspending Rice indefinitely after he was cut from the Ravens.

Just this weekend, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson was deactivated from Sunday’s game after a warrant for his arrest was issued for beating his son with a switch.

The Carolina Panthers soon followed suit, bowing to public pressure and deactivating defensive lineman Greg Hardy, who over the summer was arrested for beating his girlfriend and threatening to kill her.

Meanwhile, 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald played on a nationally televised game Sunday night despite facing domestic violence charges of his own. Even the mayor of San Francisco called for McDonald’s benching.

So what does this all mean for the NFL?

While this week has likely been one of the worst for Goodell in his time as commissioner, it could mean something good.

If the NFL acts appropriately and starts educating its players on domestic violence, then maybe this issue can be resolved. Until the NFL takes an active role in curbing the violent tendencies among players of an inherently violent sport, these crimes will continue to happen.

Central Struck Down

by Sean Begin

Heavy lightning flashed Saturday night at Arute Field but it didn’t come from the offense of the Blue Devil football team.

“We did a poor job preparing our players this week,” said head coach Pete Rossomando, after his team was shut out by the University of Albany 19-0 in a game delayed nearly two hours due to lightning.

“We didn’t do a good job helping them overcome a big victory and get focused and grounded. I knew it would be a problem,” he added.

Central came into the game having upset #7 Towson on the road last week, thanks in large part to a highly efficient performance from junior quarterback Nick SanGiacomo and a huge offensive game from senior running back Rob Hollomon.

Neither they nor the rest of the Blue Devil offense found any rhythm on Saturday night.

“The way we went out there and started the game and how we finished in it, that’s not Blue Devil football right there,” said SanGiacomo after the game. “We just weren’t clicking as a unit. We just couldn’t get it going. Can’t tell you why right now.”

Central (1-1) managed to keep the Great Danes (2-0) close for most of the first half, allowing only a field goal half way through the first quarter. But with 3:29 remaining in the second quarter, Albany broke through with a 17-yard touchdown pass from Will Fiacchi to Cole King.

The two connected again just over three minutes later on a 27-yard score with seven seconds left to play in the half giving Albany a 17-0 lead going into halftime: a halftime that almost never saw a restart.

As both teams were heading onto the field to start the second half, Arute Field’s lightning detection system tripped, prompting school officials to clear the stadium and delay the game indefinitely until the storm had passed.

“[The system] detects the potential for lightning in the area,” said athletic director Paul Schlickmann. “So even though you can’t really see it, it won’t give the all clear until it’s a safe distance away.

“It’s frustrating because you don’t necessarily see anything,” he added. “But you have to trust the integrity of this system and that’s why you have it.”

Officials gave themselves two hours to see if things would clear before making a decision whether to resume play or not. Doctors from both teams had warned of the danger to the athletes to resume playing after such a lengthy delay.

But at 9:23 officials were given the all clear from the system to resume play, an hour and 50 minutes after the delay started and right at the edge of their self-imposed deadline.

“We were about five minute away from [calling it off],” said Rossomando. “It was good to go out and finish it because our players need that.”

Neither offense managed any second half points with the only score coming on a safety after a high snap on a punt forced Central punter Ed Groth to boot the ball out of bounds in the end zone, avoiding a Great Dane defensive touchdown.

“I think it’s good the rain didn’t let us off the hook because you have to learn from something like this,” said Rossomando.

“You’re either going to go one of two ways. You’re either going to learn from it and go in a positive direction or you’re going to say, ‘It wasn’t my fault, it was somebody else’s fault,’ and you’re going to go in the other direction. So we’ll find out very quickly what our team is all about.”

“This is adversity at its finest right now,” said SanGiacomo. “We gotta see how we’re going to come back tomorrow. Hopefully it’s positive. It’s a tough one after today, especially not performing the way we did.”

“You’re going to have these types of games but you’ve got to be able to overcome them,” added Rossomando. “Just like coming back from a great victory you’ve got to come back from a crushing defeat. Hopefully, we can right the ship.”

Central will have that opportunity next Saturday on the road when they face Holy Cross.

Fantasy Reigns on Sunday

by Sean Begin

What were you doing Sunday?

Maybe you were nursing that hangover from Saturday’s party or waking up for your crappy early morning weekend shift.

There’s a good chance, though, you were one of the millions Americans who plopped down on their couch (or in my case, a desk chair) to watch the first full Sunday of the NFL season.

Yet a month ago if you had asked me if I was looking forward to upcoming season I would have laughed, probably sworn and said NOPE.

In 2010, the NFL changed the draft from a single, all-day meeting of owners to a three-day television event hosted in New York City and broadcast on the NFL’s bed partner, ESPN.

Then, in 2014, the league moved the draft from April to May (reportedly because the venue — Radio City Music Hall — was booked for an Easter show) with plans to keep it there.

This gave the league an “event” every month: the Super Bowl in February, the combine in April, draft in May, OTA’s in June followed by preseason, with free agency weaving in between it all.

After fighting for years to add two games to the schedule, Commissioner Roger Goodell had succeeded in turning the league with the shortest playing schedule into a year round story.

So by August, I had football fatigue. I was tired of seeing football plaster every major sports news site all the time. Then I got a text from my fantasy football league manager: “Draft aug 30.”

Oh crap. I’m looking forward to football again.

Fantasy football is an interesting phenomenon in American culture. Fantasy sports have been around since the 1950s, when people would pick golfers and receive a score based on their rounds. Winner was the fantasy player with the lowest combined score.

The 1960s saw a couple early baseball leagues pop up that used the previous season’s stats to pick teams. The first fantasy football league – the Greater Oakland Professional Pigskin Prognosticators – drafted in 1963.

Modern “rotisserie” leagues (roto for short, hence sites like rotoworld.com and rotowire.com), which most fantasy leagues are based off of, emerged in the early 1980s.

The internet, though, helped launch fantasy into the economic stratosphere. Before leagues had been maintained by snail mail and hand calculations. As technology grew, it became easier to host a league and keep track of scores.

Fantasy football exploded soon after. With games generally only once a week, casual fans could draft a team and be involved without having to check on it every day.

In August 2013, Forbes published an article entitled “The $70 Billion Fantasy Football Market.” It’s a lot of postulation on the value of the time people put into their fantasy teams. But the article does state that fantasy football has exceeded to NFL in annual revenue.

So on August 30 I drafted my fantasy team once again. And on Sunday I sat down to watch nearly twelve hours of football. And I’m reminded of something Lewis Black once said.

“I’ve watched every Super Bowl because I have no religion. And I think it’s important for a man to have a ritual. And the Super Bowl is on once a year, on Sunday… so at least I’m trying.”

Let the season begin.

NFL Draft Prospect Comes Out

by Sean Begin

On Monday, former Missouri defensive end and the SEC Defensive Player of the Year Michael Sam came out publicly as an openly gay athlete. Needless to say, the news created a firestorm of conversation on social media sites.

Sam is projected to be a mid-round draft pick in the NFL draft in May, which if drafted would make him the first openly gay athlete to play a major American sport.

The announcement was met heavily with praise and celebration; from NFL owners to the SEC commissioner to fellow athletes both in the NFL and other sports.

Without a doubt, the outpouring of support for Sam has been a pleasure to see, as most news of this type is met by barbed tongues of anonymous Internet moral police.

But one group of individuals decided to make their voice heard, anonymously, through various NFL writers: the general managers and player personnel executives of the professional football teams, who make the decision regarding which players to draft.

“I don’t think football is ready for [an openly gay player] just yet,” said an NFL player personnel assistant in an interview with Pete Thamel and Thayer Evans of Sports Illustrated.

“In the coming decade or two, it’s going to be acceptable, but at this point in time it’s still a man’s-man game. To call somebody a [gay slur] is still so commonplace. It’d chemically imbalance an NFL locker room and meeting room.”

Chemically imbalance a locker room? Really?

Maybe that player personnel assistant missed reading the fact that Sam came out to his entire Mizzou team in August, before the college football season started.

Maybe he missed the fact that an entire team of young adults, ranging in age from 18 to 24, managed to keep Sam’s admission quiet from the media so he could come out on his own terms.

Or maybe that assistant just happened to miss the fact that the entire team was supportive of Sam when he told them the truth of who he was.

“I just know with this going on this is going to drop him down [in the draft],” said a veteran NFL scout in the same story. “There’s no question about it. It’s human nature. Do you want to be the team to quote-unquote ‘break that barrier?'”

Maybe this scout is still stuck in the 1950s where being openly bigoted to anyone who wasn’t a straight white male was the norm.

“I am sorry to say where we are at this point in time, I think it’s going to affect most locker rooms. A lot of guys will be uncomfortable,”  said an anonymous GM in an article by Peter King on SI’s Monday Morning Quarterback NFL blog.

Well, too bad, I say, to those players “uncomfortable” with an openly gay player in the locker room. There are lots of players uncomfortable with amount of concussions and head trauma that lead to suicides in former players, but that’s not a “distraction” to a locker room.

The NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith summed up the anonymous reactions of these executives best.

“[W]hen you contrast a group of anonymous G.M.’s against a 24-year-old college player, it seems like only one of them had the guts to put his name behind his message,” Smith said in an interview with CSN Washington.

“So my first reaction has nothing to do with Michael Sam.  My reaction is to call those G.M.’s for what they are: They’re gutless. And if a young man has the courage to stand up and put his name and his face to talk about what he thinks is important, I would expect that a grown man can do exactly the same thing.  But apparently they can’t.”

The good thing is, plenty of high ranking NFL people (mostly owners and head coaches) came out in support of Sam.

New England Patriot’s owner Robert Kraft, Broncos executive vice president John Elway and Packers head coach Mike McCarthy, among others, came out in support of Sam as a potential member of their team, more importantly concerned with winning than the sexual orientation of one of their players.

In the hyper masculine world of the NFL, it’s not surprising a gay teammate could invoke some intense responses. But for executives to hide behind anonymity shows that if anyone isn’t ready for an openly gay NFL player, its them, not the players they sign to their teams’ rosters.