Senior Running Back Leads Blue Devils to NEC Win
By Timothy Farrell
The Blue Devils put together some late game magic to start off their conference schedule with a bang and defend their turf by putting up 24 unanswered points to silence Sacred Heart for homecoming.
The Pioneers had a 12-0 lead and controlled the game heading into halftime. CCSU’s offense sputtered along in the first half, being forced to punt the ball away five times.
Fortunately for the Blue Devils, senior James Mallory and the offense finally found the end zone about halfway through the third quarter with a one-yard touchdown run, bringing the score to 12-7.
Mallory, who had been held in check all first half, was able to put two touchdowns on the board for CCSU, moving him to fourth all-time in school history with 152 points. The Blue Devils were only able to put up 23 yards rushing in the first half, but then they exploded for 161 in the second.
“We wore them down,” Mallory said. “We’re a veteran team, and we realize that there are four quarters in football, and if something doesn’t work in the first half, you just have to grind it out.”
Oddly enough, possibly the biggest play that Mallory made was on the defensive side of the ball. In the fourth quarter, on a 4th and 18, Sacred Heart punter Brian Friedman bobbled the snap and was taken down by the Blue Devil running back at the Pioneer’s nine-yard line. Mallory then took the ball nine yards into the end zone on CCSU’s ensuing possession to give them the lead, 17-12.
Junior Brian Fowler, a key member of the CCSU running attack, had a key play near the end of the third quarter when he broke a 58 yard rush up the middle, setting up a Joe Izzo 26 yard field goal. Not to be outdone, quarterback Hunter Wanket kept the team alive with a series of short passes down the sidelines, setting up the ground game for Mallory.
With 6:41 to go in the game, Sacred Heart mounted an 11-play, 54-yard drive in an attempt to regain control, after giving up 17 unanswered points. Pioneer quarterback Dale Fink who had yet to make a bad decision on the day, dropped back under pressure and lobbed a pass down the right sideline, only to be intercepted by senior Marcus Dorsey, and returned 100 yards for a touchdown.
With that play, Dorsey had both set a school record for longest interception return for a touchdown as well as secure the victory for Central.
“In the end I came back, played my assignment, made the big play and scored,” Dorsey said. “I was just trying to help my team win.”
The 24-12 come-from-behind victory was the sixth consecutive win at home for CCSU, dating back to Aug. 30, 2008 against Bryant. Also, the Blue Devils have outscored their opponents this season 51-10 in the second half, 37-0 in the last two games.
Leading the Pioneers of Sacred Heart was Fink, who went 17-for-38 for 259 yards and 2 touchdowns, including a 34-yard pass, which was tipped in the end zone to SHU receiver Steve Tedesco at halftime with the clock expiring. Fink was also sacked 5 times and threw the only interception of the game.
Some of the major concerns CCSU has had in the past two games include penalties and a lack of scoring. In their win over Columbia last week, the Blue Devils committed 11 penalties for 100 yards, and this past weekend against Sacred Heart they had 8 for 90 yards.
“Too many 15 yard penalties,” Coach Jeff McInerney said. “We’re not going to win a championship doing that stuff.”
From a scoring standpoint, last season they defeated Sacred Heart 49-14. Along with that victory, CCSU had 5 other games in which they put up 35 or more points. This season they have yet to crack 30.
“I wanted to get up on these guys,” said McInerney. “I’m tired of waiting till halftime. The recipe to [Division]1-AA football is to get up and score.”
With this win, CCSU is now 3-1 on the season and 1-0 in the conference. The Blue Devils play at home again on Saturday at noon against conference opponent Robert Morris, who come in with an 0-5 overall record, 0-2 in conference play.