By Navindra Persaud
It was a beautiful, windy and brisk day at Arute field as the CCSU Blue Devils hosted the Bryant Bulldogs for Senior day, the final game of the season and the final game for Jeff McInerney as head coach of the Blue Devils.McInerney announced his resignation last Monday.
Both the Blue Devils and Bulldogs were coming into their 12th game of the season 4-7 in an even match-up for a chance at a part of fourth place in the North Eastern Conference. Central has had a 4-1 advantage in the five times the teams have met since 2008.
The 15 seniors, including team captain #24, Antwione Reese, were honored at the start of the game. Each senior was accompanied out to center field by their families while one senior was accompanied by his teammates. Players were greeted by McInerney who came into the game with a win-loss record of 48-40 in his eight seasons as head coach.
“After eight seasons as head coach of the Blue Devils, I believe this is a good time to move onward in my career. So I want to announce today that I will be leaving CCSU at the end of December. I am sad to be leaving a place I have come to love and people I deeply admire,” said McInerney in a statement Monday.
McInerney has posted a winning record in each of his first five seasons as head coach being the first to do so in 70 years for Blue Devil football, the most recent coming in 2010 as the Blue Devils went 5-0 at home.
“Whether we have won championships or not, these young men have always impressed me with their desire to excel, and they will all hold a special place in my heart,” McInerney added in his statement.
He also thanks President Miller, CCSU Athletics Offices, assistant coaches, trainers and all others that he has worked with in his time as head coach.
CCSU junior Rob Holloman was just one touchdown shy of the CCSU record for most touchdowns in a single-season and two shy of tying the record for most rushing touchdowns as he entered the game with 18. Holloman failed to score in the first half as the Bulldogs were able to post many stops. Nick Bacarella was instrumental in the offensive gains in the first half, recording 79 receiving yards and finishing with 84 receiving yards and 8 rushing yards in the game.
Sophomore quarterback Nick SanGiacomo went 16-29 for 218 passing yards in the first half and finished 26-50 with 295 passing yards for the Blue Devils whose only scoring came off of two field goals by junior Steven Calitri.
Holloman, who finished with 109 rushing yards, found in hard to gain runs as Bryants’ defense was exceptional in the first half, but he was able to gain momentum with a few great rushes to end the first half. Despite the heavy defense he was still able to surpass 2,500 rushing yards but fell short of 4,000 career all-purpose yards.
Although Central out-gained Bryant by 110 total yards they were still down 8 at the half. The Blue Devils began marching right back into the game as senior Chris Linares came up with two crucial interceptions in the second half with a total of 11 in his career. Sophomore Nick SanGiacomo led a beautiful drive that ended with a nine-yard touchdown pass to senior Denzell Jones putting the Blue Devils up 16-14 at the end of the third quarter.
The Bulldogs came storming back in the fourth quarter as Tyriq DeShields made an 82 yard reception off a pass from Bryant quarterback Mike Westerhaus. Westerhaus finished 10-21 with 174 yards as the Bulldogs led 22-14 after a two point conversion by Chad Ward with 11:50 left in the final quarter.
The Bulldogs final dagger came in the final three minutes of the fourth quarter as running back Michael Perry scored the final touchdown putting the Bulldogs up 29-16 which the Blue Devils could not answer. SanGiacomo also finished with two very untimely interceptions in the fourth quarter the latter of the two coming with just 1:13 left in the final quarter leaving Central with no time for a rebuttal ending their season at 4-8.