Tag Archives: CCSU football

Bittersweet Celebration Before Spring Game

By Brittany Burke

Coach Jeff McInerney poses with his NEC championship ring with most of his seniors that will be graduating this month. Photo: Kenny Barto.

Spring training has come and gone for the reigning Northeast Conference Champion CCSU Blue Devils football team. Beginning on April 1 with practices, the Blue Devils’ spring season came to a close, culminating in the annual Blue and White scrimmage game.

The day’s events included more than just a football game. The 2011 team captains were announced during half time, preceded by a performance from the CCSU dance team. The senior athletes taking over as Blue Devils captains are Brendan Brackett, Brian Fowler, Dominic Giampetro, Gunnar Jespersen and Gene Johnson.

While the new captains celebrated at the half, the entire team was able to rejoice as the NEC Championship rings were handed out on the 50-yard line. The first ring to be presented on the field was the one belonging to the belated Rich Royster. Royster’s ring was given to his parents by Head Coach Jeff McInerney, followed by the rest of the team.

Once awards and rings were handed out the game got underway. The eventful and productive game ended in a tie with a score of 31 all. The fact that the team was playing against one another didn’t stop McInerney, who oversaw both squads, from making the match interesting by putting out all the stops.

“Overall I felt really good about it, I always like these games to be tight and close and fun its boring if you come out and win 38-16,” said McInerney. “It’s just flat out boring. You got to see balls thrown around and people running for touchdowns. I am all about that, I am about putting on a show and so overall I thought good.”

Junior Kevin Woolfolk struck first for the blue team with a nine-yard run to put his team up 7-0. Woolfolk went on to be named the game’s most valuable player. By the end of regulation, Woolfolk had racked up 119-yards in eight carries, with three touchdowns. Following his initial touchdown, Woolfolk managed to find the endzone twice for back to back scores in the fourth quarter. In his last touchdown run Woolfolk ran for 48-yards to put the blue team in front 31-23.

“Kevin’s always been a great player,” said McInerney. “Kevin’s had some unfortunate things happen. He was a star in high school, he went to Trinity college, was an extremely talented player since he’s been here in the freshman year, played a little bit then he got hurt, then he came back, then he got hurt again…Kevin can play and he’s really, really, really good and he’s just got to get his confidence, this was the best medicine for him.”

In his second spring game as a Blue Devil, and last year’s game MVP, Jespersen was more comfortable with his line, which only comes with experience. The second year quarterback finished the game

Quarterback Gunnar Jespersen. Photo: Kenny Barto.

14-of-18 with 210-yards and a single touchdown.

“I threw the ball a lot less, but I felt more comfortable on the field. This year I know what I’m doing,” said Jespersen. “Last year I kind of felt like a deer in the headlights, they were signaling plays I didn’t know what they were calling, half the time I just let the receiver run and see where he’d go and throw him the ball late.

“This year we’re a little more fine tuned, like I said I feel more comfortable and that helps…Last year we put in a brand new offense this year’s our second year in the offense in the system so everyone has an idea of what we’re doing instead of trying to piece together a bunch of different position groups all at once.”

While Jespersen is next year’s starting quarterback, freshman quarterback Denzell Jones also had a big game, serving both as a quarterback and wide receiver. The 6-foot-6 rookie from Bloomfield completed five of his seven attempts for a total of 39-yards. His ground statistics proved to be better than the ones he gained in the air, as Jones ran for 63-yards, caught for 54-yards and took the ball in for a touchdown.

“Denzell Jones like to compete, he’s a Big East player at receiver he’s 6’6’’ and can run,” said McInerney. “I don’t know if he’d be a star in the Big East but he can play at that level and in this league he should be extremely, extremely good, and obviously you’re gonna see him make plays.

“I want him to be the quarterback here in ’12, he’s gonna be the quarterback here in ’12 …but we’re still trying to develop him on both sides to keep his horns sharpened at quarterback because I want the transition to be better than it was the last time.”

The offensive side of the ball was in sync, but like McInerney predicted prior to the game, the defense needs work, which is the opposite of last season. Despite only being a scrimmage, the defense allowed for 31 points by both teams.

Freshman kicker Steven Calitri also struggled on the field taking over for Joe Izzo, but McInerney has confidence in his young talent.

“We probably got about 16 defensive players that can play and are ready to play in a game,” said McInerney. “When you divide two teams out there you’re gonna have some guys who are just not ready to play at this time, but you don’t have to be, that’s why you have summer and 29 days of camp to get them cranked and ready to roll.”

The Blue Devils will have a small break to finish out the school year, but will pick things back up over the summer, before the team opens up at home against the Southern Connecticut State University Owls on Sept. 3 at 12 p.m.

Football Coach Optimistic Heading into Spring Game

By Brittany Burke

The competitive football season won’t begin until September, however, for the fans that can’t wait to get their football fix can attend the annual Blue Devils Blue and White Spring game.

The game, scheduled for Friday, April 29, is the first game for the team since its final home game in November. The yearly game serves a less competitive purpose, as the athletes put on the pads and take to the line against their own teammates.

“It’s really a chance for the players to demonstrate their skill level and to actually play a game,” said head football coach Jeff McInerney. “For some of them it’ll be their first game because they didn’t play last year and it’s really a big point of getting used to playing in games and how to approach the game.”

CCSU Blue Devil football has been back in action practicing on the field, and this game will serve as a way of testing new strategies before facing Southern Connecticut State University to kick off the season.

“I’m going to be looking at every individual…obviously a group cannot have a good play but a player can do well on his job, so just how they react, just getting to the grind in the spring and go out there and play and how they handle it because for some of them it’s a new experience,” said McInerney. “For the group it’s a whole different unit so you want to see how they react as one team, because we will have a blue and white team.”

With the departure of 18 seniors from the championship team, the new squad is facing a new regime, which is what the athletes have been working on in the spring practices. With Gunnar Jespersen returning to take the snaps behind center, the Blue Devils offense is more secure than it was going into the 2010 season. However, with a handful of defensive linemen and backs gone, the defensive side of the ball is up in the air. The position of kicker will also be looked at, as Joe Izzo wrapped ups his final season this year.

“We’re putting in a new defense, so we’ve been more aggressive and we’ve been installing like crazy, so I’ve been really pleased with that and on offense we’ve kind of sharpened our horns and we’re way further along,” said McInerney. “Last year we had some things on offense and were further along now on that side of the ball, where a year ago it was reversed, which happens quite a bit. Then in the kicking game, I think Steve Calitri has been doing fabulous as the punter and kicker in kick off, I’m very pleased with Steve.”

The spring game is an opportunity for the Blue Devils to throw everything out on the field as a way of seeing what works and what doesn’t before delving in to the rest of the spring season. It’s not as formal, but it gives the players a taste of the new things implemented, the fans a glimpse of what to expect and the coaches an outlet to test their new strategies, which is what McInerney plans to do.

“We’re gonna use it all, we’re not like a lot of people, I’m not hiding anything. We’re gonna go out there and hit it and get it, we’ve got to see how it looks. Some people limit things that they’ll do but I won’t do that. We’re not gonna hit the quarterback in the spring game, we won’t tackle the quarterback but everybody else will tackle,” said McInerney.

It is also a time to honor the past and future. The spring game will feature the celebration of the 2010 team, which currently serves as co-NEC champions, as well formally announcing which players will serve as captains for the 2011 season.

The Blue and White game will be held on Arute Field with a kickoff time scheduled for 1:30 p.m.

“[It will be a] beautiful spring day, they’re predicting sun and there’s nothing better than watching football, sitting in the stands, talking to your fellow students, classmates, coworkers, peers…it’s not like a regular game, you can come out for 20 minutes, just stop in say hi and enjoy the moment, there’s nothing like sitting in the football stands with the sun out.”

Football Schedule Released; Team Eyes Possible Three-peat

By Brittany Burke

Spring may be a time for baseball, with the cracking sound of the ball hitting the bat and homeruns, but with the release of the 2011-2012 football schedule and upcoming blue and white spring game, there can be nothing but football and touchdowns on the brain.

The Blue Devils will see action on Arute Field five times this upcoming season, including the scheduled opener. CCSU opens in the fall against non-conference opponents, but in-state rivals, the Southern Connecticut State University Owls, who haven’t played together since the 2007 season.

“I think overall it is an excellent schedule. Not only do we have our conference games, we have two excellent out of conference games against traditional FCS powerhouses, James Madison University and University of Massachusetts, which is good for our fans. That one’s on the road but it’s only an hour and a half away,” said Head Coach Jeff McInerney. “Then we get to play a traditional rival in Southern Connecticut which should be a lot of fun.”

The Division II Owls are set to take on the reigning Northeast Conference co-champions on Sept. 3. The Blue Devils are riding a 14 home-game win streak and are looking to continue the streak in the new season.

“You can never take [the win streak] for granted, we haven’t lost a home game in three years, but you can just never take it for granted you got to win your home games if you’re going to be a championship team and I think the guys feel comfortable, there’s a sense of tradition and I think that’s a big part of it,” said McInerney. “But the minute you think that just because you’re playing at home you’re going to win you make a grave error, because that just didn’t come easy. Those 14 straight wins did not come easy by any stretch of the imagination.”

The Owls are a division below the Football Championship Subdivision Blue Devils, but the last time the two teams met on Arute Field the competition drew in a crowd of 4,136. CCSU won the game 56-34 and are looking to do the same in the new meeting.

“Do I think it’s always good to play a former rival that’s a level below you, not always, you have nothing to gain if you lose, anything can happen in football, but I think it’s a good thing,” said McInerney.

SCSU gives the Blue Devils the imperative fifth home game, but tough play won’t begin until the following week. For game two, CCSU travels to Virginia to play James Madison University in their second non-conference game.

The Blue Devils’ have two tough non-NEC games scheduled for the new season. Midway through the season CCSU is set to travel to Amherst, Mass. to play the University of Massachusetts. Following a year in which the Blue Devils were named repeat champions, the two FCS football powerhouses will set a standard for CCSU to try and match.

However, two of the three Blue Devils’ losses came from non-conference opponents. Last year CCSU lost the season opener to the University of New Hampshire 33-3 and the game against Youngstown State 63-24.

Both of the non-conference road games have been scheduled to be part of two back-to-back road stints. The Blue Devils will play at JMU one week prior to playing Wagner on the road to begin NEC play. The same pattern is scheduled for CCSU two weeks later. Following two straight home games against Monmouth and Sacred Heart, the Blue Devils will travel to UMass and then Pittsburgh seven days later to play conference rivals Duquesne.

“[The road stint will] put a strain on [the team], but we’ve got to mix steel with fire and we’ve got to go down there to JMU, get used to the road, play against a team which is opening up their new stadium, there will be about 37,000 there, it’ll be a lot of fun for them. Then come back home, come back regroup, coach ‘em up and at least we’ll be ready for the next week,” McInerney said.

The CCSU football team will finish the season on the road against Bryant on Nov. 19, playing the final home game on Nov. 12 versus Robert Morris.

“A lot of close games is what I’m looking forward to. We’re trying to three-peat, we want to win the league outright and get the automatic bid but we also want a championship and I think it’s like every year, they’re always tough, it’s always a struggle and you got to get your team better and you’ve got to get your team better for the long haul,” said Coach McInerney.

Football season is still months away, but before the Blue Devils take on the Owls the team will play each other in the annual blue and white game on Friday April 29.

Uncertain Season Ends with NEC Co-Championship

By Brittany Burke

The win against St. Francis (PA) at Arute Field cemented the Blue Devils’ share of the NEC title, but it also capped off a hard-fought season and groundbreaking careers.

The final home game of the season was the last game for fifteen graduating senior members of the football team including captains Jeff Marino and Alondre Rush, transfer Everette Benjamin and place kicker Joe Izzo. For most of the graduating class, winning at home to secure another ring in front of a huge crowd is completely opposite from how they began their time at CCSU.

“Since I’ve been here, to see things change from the first year I’ve been here to my final year. I mean my first year, second year we were playing for a championship and there was no one in the stands and it’s amazing to see how the program changed four years down the road and there’s no better way to go out as a fifth year senior than on top,” said senior P.J. Borawski.

The Blue Devils began the season facing some major adversities. The reigning NEC outright champions had lost its two quarterbacks, and head coach Jeff McInerney and the offensive vouching staff were trying to create a top NEC quarterback out of junior college transfer Gunnar Jespersen.

“I remember telling [Sports Information Director] Tom Pincince and everybody, we’ll go as far as we develop our quarterback,” said McInerney. “We have to give Gunnar a tremendous amount of credit to make the transfer from junior college to college. He’s a fabulous, wonderful student coming up from that distance. He’s a good fit here, he’s a tough guy he represents us well.”

Gunnar finished his first season as a Blue Devil completing 145 of his 243 attempts with 11 touchdowns and eight interceptions in eleven games. He was also the team’s second leading rusher, gaining 612 yards with a net gain of 495 yards.

Jespersen was ranked second behind fellow transfer Everette Benjamin. Benjamin had a lucrative career, not only transferring from Hofstra, but simultaneously making the switch from fullback to running back. Benjamin recorded 1,330 yards on the season, averaging 120 yards a game. Benjamin finished the season rushing for over 100 yards in eight games. The only times he was held to under 100 was during the team’s losses to the University of New Hampshire, Youngstown State and Robert Morris. Benjamin’s most productive game was against Bryant on Sept. 25 when he rushed for 188 yards.

With two major positions uncertain at the beginning of the season CCSU opened with a tough road game against nationally ranked New Hampshire, dropping the decision 33-3. The team managed to bounce back and take its home opener against Bentley before losing to Youngstown State the following week.

With NEC play picking up after the loss to YSU the Blue Devils remained undefeated until Nov. 6. The team fought hard and made some unbelievable comebacks, such as 30-27 overtime defeat of Albany and a 49-48 win over Monmouth, but Robert Morris was too much for the team. RMU handed CCSU its one and only NEC loss and with identical 7-1 records, the two teams would inevitably share the NEC title.

“I think we had a couple games that looked like football. The Sacred Heart game looked like football, the Wagner game looked like football and this game [St. Francis (PA)] looked like football. We had our moments in the Bryant game but it was good to see them and the coaches and the kids rally up and make some plays and gain some confidence,” said McInerney.

CCSU got major contributions from the returning defense and remained undefeated at home the entire season, increasing the home winning streak to 14, which is the third longest streak of its kind in the country.

The graduating class is saying goodbye with 30 wins and two conference championships. Ushering in a new era of football for the Blue Devils will be the 25 new seniors lead by a more comfortable Jespersen.

“Being a quarterback, it’s already kind of a leading position but we already had four or five senior captains ahead of me this year and15 seniors in the locker room leading and they did a great job,” said Jespersen. “I picked up a lot from them and it’s gonna help me lead the team next year…we have 25 seniors next year so I think my leading role is not gonna be as big of a deal. I’m going to be a leader regardless but I’m gonna have 24 other guys backing me up in that leading position and they’re gonna help push the whole team.”

CCSU may no longer be outright champions, but the title of co-champion only fuels the fire for the outright distinction in the 2011 season.

Season Finale Victory Gives Blue Devils Share of NEC Title

Blue Devils Extend Home Winning Streak To 14

The CCSU football team celebrates its share of the NEC title. Photo: Kenny Barto.

By Brittany Burke

For the second consecutive year in a row the Blue Devils football team was able to hold the NEC trophy up in the air and celebrate as champions

Following the 23-13 defeat of the St. Francis (PA) Red Flash CCSU was named co-NEC champions for the fourth time since 2004, sharing the title this year with the Robert Morris Colonials. The Blue Devils clinched the title in front of the home crowd on senior day, extending the home winning streak to 14, which is the third longest streak in the country.

“The players that have been on this team and played for this team in the past have a great winning record here,” said quarterback Gunnar Jespersen. “They love the atmosphere, the crowd’s good for the team, they help us out in the stands and just to be on your home turf, to be on your home field and just feel comfortable before the game even begins helps the comfort level of everything on the field you don’t stress about the little things you just go out and play football like you do every day in practice.”

The day began with a ceremony celebrating the team’s 15 graduating seniors, including running back Everette Benjamin, kicker Joe Izzo and captains Jeff Marino, Alondre Rush and Mike Allison.

“The defense got together before the game and me and the captains, me, Rush and D [Dominique] Rose, we got everyone together and said, ‘You know what? This is the last game we’re gonna be playing together, last game at home with everybody’ and we pretty much ending our careers so we got to do it we got to come out big come out punch them in the mouth and keep them down,” said Marino.

Everette Benjamin ran for 117 yards on Saturday. Photo: Kenny Barto.

The Blue Devils struck first against the Red Flash with a 20-yard touchdown run made by Jespersen, resulting in a quick six points and the lead. Jespersen struck again two drives later with a one-yard run.

“In a game like this you’ve got to come out with a lot of intensity you know the offensive line was coming out blocking well in the beginning, we had a pretty good running game going we were catching passes,” said Jespersen. “In a game like this you need to put points up early to give you that comfort and just gives you something to work with, it brings the other team down and helps with the victory.”

Jespersen completed 15 of his 27 passes for 199 yards with one interception, while also rushing for 50 yards.

“You’ve got to give credit to Gunnar Jespersen,” said PJ Borawski. “He’s in my mind the MVP of the offense the way he carried this team throughout the season. It’s like day and night from week one. Watching our offense in week one, I mean it was like ‘Wow it’s gonna be a long season,’ and these coaches, these coaches worked really hard to make us better and like I said here we are championship game.”

Despite the two failed extra point attempts by the Blue Devils, it was clear that the team thrived on Arute Field and had control of the game from the opening drive.

The CCSU offense managed to score 23 unanswered points against the Red Flash defense, gaining 415 yards compared to the St. Francis (PA) offense, who managed to acquire 217 yards, most coming in the final quarter.

The Blue Devils have consistently preached that it is the offense that wins the games, but the defense that earns the championships and nothing exemplified this notion like the final game of the season.

The Red Flash was shut out until the fourth quarter when the team went in for two touchdowns, with a failed two-point conversion. At the end of the first the CCSU defensive line had managed to hold St. Francis (PA) to negative three passing yards, one first down and six yards in 14 plays.

The Blue Devils came out complacent in the second half, getting comfortable with the lead, but managed to pull through in the clutch for the win.

Benjamin exploded in the second half, finishing his last game as a Blue Devil with 117 yards, while fellow senior Josue Paul caught eight passes for 105 yards.

“We try to make every team and make it the best that it can be whatever that is,” said Head Coach Jeff McInerney. “Did I think in the beginning that this team could be a championship team? Eh. Watch practice and it always got better and they’re always resilient, they never get down on themselves, they never look at the score board and they practice and when you can do those things you’ve got a chance for greatness.”

The Blue Devils entered the 2010 season with the targets on their backs as defending NEC outright champions. As the year progressed the teams fought the odds by going 8-3 with a new quarterback and team chemistry and in the end were named co-NEC champion, which only gives CCSU more motivation to be the outright champions again next season.

CCSU Tops Monmouth In Double Overtime

By Brittany Burke

Following a NEC loss at Robert Morris last weekend the CCSU Blue Devils football team (7-3, 6-1 NEC) took a trip to Monmouth University (3-7, 3-4 NEC) and came out on top 49-48 in an exciting double overtime finish decided by a two-point conversion.

“It never really entered my mind that they would not come out and be positive and work that’s their makeup, that’s why we are seven and three and we don’t let things bother us,” said Head Coach Jeff McInerney. “We always say we play this game for the fun of it like we are seven. At this level it’s the purest form of amateurism there is, and you play it and you do it for the right reasons and when you do that good things happen.”

The overtime situation was the first in Monmouth’s school history and the second for the Blue Devils this season, however it was the first double overtime for either team.

With 56 seconds left to play in regulation Gunnar Jespersen found P.J. Borawski for a seven yard touchdown completion and a tie score. As Joe Izzo took the field the Blue Devils had an opportunity to take the lead by one, but his extra point kick was blocked.

“It was a ridiculous game it was a lot of back and forth action a few extra points missed a few field goals blocked and its just a wild game,” said running back Everette Benjamin.

Monmouth took over with time left and drove down field to get into field goal range. As time expired the ball went sailing to the left of the post, forcing the first overtime.

After a scoreless first overtime the Hawks came out and drove the ball in for a touchdown to open the second. With the pressure to get at least seven on the board the Blue Devils took over with a touchdown run from Jespersen.

At that point in the game McInerney had the decision to kick the extra point, forcing a third overtime or to go for the two point conversion. The offense remained on the field lined up for the slant with Jespersen in position behind center. As the ball was snapped Jespersen connected to Josue Paul for the two points and the win.

“Our team’s got a heart of a champion and you don’t blink and I said, ‘Hey were gonna end this thing now one way or another,’ and I knew I had guys that could make plays and I was gonna put the ball in their hands and that’s how it all went down,” said McInerney.

The overtime antics were just the icing on the cake in one of the most memorable NEC games of the Blue Devils’ season.

The first half was a true battle of offenses as CCSU took the ball down field capitalizing on the lethal combination of Jespersen to Everette Benjamin for the opening touchdown. Following the initial seven the Hawks came back three minutes later with a score of its own to tie the game early on.

However it was in the second that the offenses really exploded. Seven touchdowns were made between the two teams, five of which came in the final two minutes of the half.
It looked as if the Blue Devils were going to head to the locker rooms with the lead until Jespersen was picked off by Kenny Amsel for a 72-yard touchdown return and the lead.

“It was just a bad play,” said Jespersen. “I was trying to throw the ball away and I got hit when I was throwing it and they took it for six points the other way right at the half time, but with the guys I got backing me up, backing this team up I’ve got no doubts. Like coach says, we have no fear of losing. We just keep playing to the end and if we come up with a win we come up with a win if we come up with a loss we come up with a loss that’s the way it is.

With another win in the record books, CCSU will come back to Arute Field for the final game of the season Saturday Nov. 20 to take on St. Francis (PA) at 12 p.m.

CCSU Home Winning Streak Reaches 13

38-20 Defeat of Wagner Gives CCSU Football Five-Game Winning Streak

Running back Everette Benjamin on his way to a touchdown. Photo: Adam Tulloch.

By Brian Jennings

CCSU football kept its home game winning streak alive this weekend with a 38-20 win over the Wagner Seahawks.

The Blue Devils (6-2, 5-0 NEC) extended their home winning streak to 13, setting a new school record in the process. Not only has CCSU won 13 straight games at home, but the team is now riding a separate five-game winning streak.

The start of the game was a bit misleading to the outcome of the game. The opening kickoff was fumbled by senior Josue Paul, giving thought to an early hole that the Blue Devils might have dug them into. However, the CCSU defense had other plans.

The Blue Devil defense stepped up and was huge, keeping the Seahawks to only 193 total offensive yards. Senior Jeff Marino and junior Isaiah Boddie led the defense with nine tackles each. Junior Charles Williams helped out with six stops and 2.5 sacks resulting in a loss of 21 yards. Juniors Rich Royster and Dominic Giampietro each complemented the defense with 1.5 sacks.

Seahawks quarterback Nick Doscher was not protected very well by his offensive line and spent most of the day on the turf. Doscher was sacked six times by the CCSU defense. Although Doscher completed 10 passes on 19 attempts without a pick, seven different receivers were unable to help him out, contributing only 112 yards and a touchdown combined.

For the Seahawks the story was penalties and a lack of discipline. The Seahawks had a team high this season of 12 penalties worth 123 yards, compared to the Blue Devils six for 50 yards. Fumbles were also a nuisance for the Seahawks, as the team committed three, two of which forced a change in possession.

CCSU Coach Jeff McInerney and his coaching staff weren’t joking when they said they were going to put an emphasis on establishing the running game. The Blue Devils rushed for 197 yards against the Seahawks.

Wide receiver Chris Tolbert got the rushing party started by scoring first for the Blue Devils. The freshman ran the ball from six yards out midway through the first quarter, adding his third rushing touchdown on the year.

Running back Everette Benjamin added a second touchdown for CCSU just before the end of the first quarter with a 3-yard run of his own. During one of his runs, Benjamin displayed his athleticism by hurdling over a Wagner defender, almost as if he ran track and field.

Benjamin rushed for over 100 yards for the sixth straight time this season against Wagner. The senior transfer capped off his 100-plus-yard game with an 18-yard touchdown toward the end of the third quarter. Benjamin finished the day with 25 carries, 104 yards and a pair of touchdowns.

“It feels great,” said Benjamin. “Coming from Hofstra, I never thought I would get this much because I was getting five carries a game there and it feels amazing. I just got the love from the line, the coaches believe in me and keep giving me the rock more than thirty times a game and I’m grateful for that.”

Benjamin found ways to stick with it and get into a flow, which helped in his performance.

“Today I was bothered by a groin injury, but I just kept pushing,” said Benjamin. “Once you get into the flow of the game, everything starts gelling; you start getting a little adrenaline rush.”

Benjamin had no problem with stepping in and taking the starting running back role for the injured Brian Fowler.

“It’s an honor because we probably would have been sharing reps and splitting it both ways if he was here,” said Benjamin. “But, he went down and I had to step in and that’s just part of the game. People go down and you have to step in and do your job.”

Wagner quarterback Doscher tried to keep the Seahawks in the game with a pair of rushing touchdowns, one from six yards out in the beginning of the second quarter and another from a yard out as time expired at the end of the third quarter.

Doscher finished with the most rushing yards for the Seahawks with 64 yards on the ground, beating out running back Eric Foxworth. Foxworth was held to only eight carries for eight yards without seeing the end zone against the Blue Devil defense.

CCSU quarterback Gunnar Jespersen completed 13 passes on 22 attempts for 143 yards and no touchdowns with a long pass of only 33 yards.

Numerous times throughout the game Jespersen tried the long ball for Paul, but was unable to hook up for the big play. All else seemed to be failing for Paul, especially after he dropped an uncontested 50-yard heave from Jespersen that could have gone the distance for an 80-yard touchdown. Paul was held to only four receptions for 37 yards at the end of the third quarter.

However, after fumbling the opening kickoff, Paul was able to redeem himself, taking the opening kickoff of the fourth quarter to the house for a 90-yard score.

The Blue Devils will travel to Moon Township, Penn. on Saturday, Nov. 6 to take on the Robert Morris Colonials at 12 p.m.

Comeback Kids Strike Again, Overtime Win Keeps CCSU Undefeated in NEC

Lorenzo Baker carries the ball back to the sideline after his fumble recovery in overtime that lead to Joe Izzo’s game-winning field goal. Photo: Kenny Barto.

By Brittany Burke

Fireworks literally lit the night sky as the CCSU football team (5-2, 4-0 NEC) team broke out into celebration following a 30-27 overtime win to remain undefeated in the NEC against division opponents, the University of Albany Great Danes.

The Blue Devils managed to stage a second half comeback after heading into the locker rooms trailing the Great Danes 24-6.

“We always preach one heartbeat and yea it was my kick that won the game but it’s everybody. Everybody won the game for us everyone counts everyone matters, def, off, special teams, it was a group effort,” said Joe Izzo.

Albany was held to a field goal in the second half as defense stepped up and was finally able to contain red shirted quarterback, Buddy Leathley.

With 2:07 left to play in the fourth quarter CCSU was still down by eight. The Blue Devils managed to set up a strong scoring drive, but was helped by 25-yards in Albany penalties, which resulted in two automatic first downs to keep the drive alive.

Thirty-six seconds remained on the clock when quarterback Gunnar Jespersen connected with PJ Borawski for a 9-yard touchdown, cutting Albany’s lead to two. CCSU made the necessary decision to go for the two point conversion, which would tie the score and force a possible overtime situation.

At that point CCSU had already had a failed conversion attempt in the third quarter, making the next try critical. The Blue Devils chose the option as Jespersen dropped back and got the ball in the hands of his go-to man, Everette Benjamin, who found his way into the end zone to tie the game 27-27.

Benjamin left Saturday’s win with his fifth straight game rushing for over 100 yards. In the match against the Great Danes Benjamin posted 161 yards with two touchdowns.

“Their defense was solid, they were actually pretty good but up front o line kept pushing they were giving me creases to hit and I hit them I just found them today,” said Benjamin.

The Blue Devils defense put up a big stop against Albany’s offense, sacking Leathley in the final 36 seconds of the quarter forcing the game into overtime for the first time since 2000, and the first time under Coach McInerney.

CCSU’s luck carried into overtime, as the referees signaled that the team had won the toss, opting to give the Great Danes the first opportunity to score.

On the second play of Albany’s overtime drive Leathley, seeing no other options kept the ball and ran for nine yards before fumbling it. The ball was recovered by CCSU’s Lorenzo Baker, giving the Blue Devils the chance to get on the board first.

Three rushing plays put CCSU in field goal position, 32-yards out. Joe Izzo took to the field and placed the ball through the uprights for the win.

Izzo had a perfect game in Albany and is now 10-for-10 on the year. The good attempt kept his streak alive, giving him a record of 12 straight field goals made.

The win wasn’t out of the question for a fourth quarter team, such as CCSU, but if first half play had been an indication of the second, things would have been bleak. CCSU began the game struggling against Albany, especially in the run defense.

“Were gonna have to stop the qb run and were gonna have to tackle better were gonna have to keep workin on offense,” said Coach McInerney.

Leathley managed to gain 112 of the teams 215 net rushing yards, the majority of yardage acquired after an initial tackle.

“The take play, the quarterback run hurt us, we were trying. They changed the quarterback, they changed some of the things they were doin,” said Coach McInerney. “We didn’t make a fast enough adjustment, that was on me and once we did make the adjustment to base we stopped that play. But a hunk of their yards in the first half were on the take play by the quarterback.”

The Blue Devils managed to turn the game around and come out on top of a difficult NEC match up. The team will come back to Arute on Oct. 30 to take on Wagner at 12 p.m.

Football Enters Bye Week with Sights on Albany

By Brittany Burke

Entering the week seven bye, the CCSU football team sits on a 4-2 record, remaining undefeated in NEC conference play, which is exactly where Head Coach Jeff McInerney expected his team to be, heading down the final stretch.

“I’m really pleased so far, we’re four and two. There’s nothing obviously ever goes as planned so there’s always disappointment and you always correct it,” said coach McInerney. “It starts with me I made mistakes and we got to correct them…you’ve got to evaluate it the last five weeks.

“It’s up to the football gods. We just got to go out there and compete and let the chips fall where they may. We’re in position but we can’t guarantee anything, don’t know but we’ll try.”

The Blue Devils faced two tough out of conference road opponents early in the season at New Hampshire and Youngstown State in Ohio, dropping to UNH 33-3 in week one and to Youngstown, 63-24 in the third week. Despite those poor showings, CCSU has recovered and won four games, continuing a winning streak at home.

“We knew with a new quarterback in this situation that New Hampshire was going to be tough we knew that the travel to Youngstown and their tradition was gonna be tough,” said Coach McInerney. “We went into those games trying to win them obviously, but we knew it was gonna be hard and we knew we had to win Bentley, Bryant, Sacred Heart and Duquesne to get to our bye week.”

The Blue Devils defense gave up a combined 645-yards rushing in the losses against UNH and YSU. The roughest time for the run defense might have been in the win against NEC opponent, Duquesne, during homecoming weekend.

Despite the win, the Blue Devils were almost forced into an overtime situation with under three minutes to play in the fourth, allowing the Dukes to score twice and shorten the lead to within the realm of a two point conversion. The Blue Devils managed to hold the Dukes, but the team took a step back in the recent progress made on the run defense.

Running back Larry McCoy ran all over the Blue Devils defense in last week’s win, rushing for 246 of his team’s 290 yards. Whenever the ball was strategically put into his hands he exploded all over the field and managed the double digit runs continuously.

“This week one of the areas we have to improve is the run defense. If we can stop the run we’ll have a great opportunity to win a championship. If we don’t stop the run our chances are going to be not great,” said coach McInerney.

We’re just not consistent. We’re not horrible we just give up too many long runs. It’s ok to get an eight or nine yard run, but you can’t give up the 40, the 30, the 50 ,the 60 yard run and that has been a problem all year. At New Hampshire, at Youngstown and it reared its ugly head against Duquesne, and if we can stop those plays we have a chance and that’s all anybody could ask.”

Offensively there have been some major adjustments in the CCSU roster this season, including transfers Gunnar Jespersen at quarterback and Everette Benjamin filling the void at running back.

The two transfers have steadily gotten used to the CCSU style of play and have proven themselves as offensive leaders. Jespersen has made the start in all six games completing 74-for-114 attempts with 914-yards and five touchdowns with just two interceptions on the season. The quarterback is second on the team in rushing with 341 rushing yards.

Jespersen trails Benjamin, who made the switch from fullback, his position at Hofstra, to running back. Benjamin leads the team in rushing yards with a net of 690-yards. Richie Martin is the top receiver for CCSU with 354-yards, while freshman Chris Linares leads the team in interceptions with two.

“Our offensive line has really gelled and played well which is the key, when your offensive line plays well. And we’ve gotten some receivers developed when Josue [Paul] was out which was the key so it’s not just them; they’ve got a lot of help,” said Coach McInerney of Jespersen and Benjamin’s impact on the team.

Paul is back in the CCSU lineup, debuting in the win over Duquesne. Paul offers a new threat to CCSU’s receivers, giving Jespersen an outlet that can go deep and complete the long passes.

“I think Josue will work his way back into it, but we’ve developed some other weapons and he’ll get his share of plays but the other guys will get their share of plays and it just gives us a deep threat that can catch a deep ball.”

A bye week doesn’t mean a break for the team, who is preparing for longstanding rival, Albany, next week. The Blue Devils are reaching the meat of the season following the bye, which consists of back to back road trips to Robert Morris and Monmouth in November.

“We knew we’ve got to be at our best starting after this bye week. We have two tough games with Albany and Wagner. Then we have those two roads trips and ended up on senior day with St. Francis and you can’t take anybody for granted,” said Coach McInerney. “So we’re right where we thought we’d be. Now we have to go out and play. We got an opportunity and it’s going to be October 22, we’re undefeated, what more can you ask for now we just got to make a play.”

The Blue Devils return to CCSU on Oct. 30 when they take on Wagner at 12 p.m.

Blue Devils Celebrate Homecoming with Win Over the Dukes

CCSU Moves to 4-2 After 31-29 Defeat of Duquesne

Josue Paul escapes a tackle against Duquesne. Photo: Kenny Barto

By Brittany Burke

The CCSU football team’s (4-2, 3-0 NEC) road to 12 consecutive home victories wasn’t easy, but the Blue Devils got it done and were able to celebrate homecoming weekend with a 31-29 win over the Duquesne Dukes (3-3, 1-2 NEC).

“A win is a win is a win,” said Head Coach Jeff McInerney. “You’ve got to learn to play in tight games; you’ve got to learn to have confidence to make the play. You always give your opponent respect and championship teams win games like this.”

One call stood between the Blue Devils’ win and a possible over time. With 2:07 left to play in the game the Dukes scored a touchdown to put the team behind CCSU by eight points. The Dukes managed to force the Blue Devils into a fourth and ten situation, which CCSU opted to punt away.

The Dukes began their final drive of the game with 1:37 left in regulation time and took the ball 89 yards in 12 plays to score the second touchdown in two minutes as time on the clock expired with a new score of 31-29.

Down by two and desperate for an overtime situation the Dukes attempted to get the two point conversion. As Duquesne quarterback Sean Patterson threw the ball the CCSU crowd held their breaths. The pass initially looked good, which would have forced an overtime and possible loss for CCSU.

Moments later the pass was signaled incomplete, when Duquesne receiver stepped out of bounds before coming back into the end zone for the catch. With the incomplete ruled on the field, the CCSU football team was finally able to celebrate its third NEC win of the season.

“Basically we were at a coverage called money. I had my zone, play came down to the last minute, he was out of bounds luckily and we were able to pull it off,” said Dominic Rose. “Luckily the ref called it because one ref didn’t call it and one ref called it, but it wasn’t his call to make and the game was over.”

The outcome of the game should not have been decided by the official’s call. The Blue Devils built up an early lead against the Dukes in the first quarter 10-0. True freshman wide receiver, Chris Tolbert made a name for himself against the Dukes scoring CCSU’s first touchdown of the game.

Early in the second Gunnar Jespersen found Josue Paul for 64-yards and another seven points, making the score 17-0 for the Blue Devils. The homecoming game was Paul’s first game of the season after a suspension from the team, but it is obvious that he is back and ready to make things happen for CCSU.

“Today’s my first day… It’s gonna be great because I’m gonna make his [Jespersen] job easier and he knows that,” Paul said.

Paul and Jespersen haven’t worked together since last spring, but that doesn’t worry Paul. “Gunnar’s a great quarterback, hes’ an easy learner so he’ll get used to it because we did have some time in the spring so he knows where I want the ball where I like it so it shouldn’t be hard at all.”

Duquesne steadily began to close in on the point gap early in the third with a 48-yard touchdown run from Larry McCoy. The run by McCoy shortened the Dukes’ point deficit to four. CCSU had trouble containing McCoy all afternoon, allowing him to rush for 246 of the team’s 290 yards.

“We took a step back…we obviously didn’t play the run,” said Coach McInerney. “There’s no way you can design a defense and have a guy pop out of there three or four times for 60 yards a clip, we got a lot of work to do.”

CCSU managed to regain a comfortable lead until late in the fourth. Everette Benjamin had another big showing, rushing for 146 of CCSU’s 200 net rushing yards, making homecoming his fourth game of the season to go for more than 100 yards. Even with a go-to man in Benjamin, Jespersen spread the ball to multiple outlets.

CCSU enters the bye week next weekend followed by a road trip to Albany on Oct. 22. “We are a team that’s ready for out bye week we competed very very hard it wasn’t pretty at times and we have a lot of things to take care of on our end if we want to win a championship, which is what we plan on doing,” said Coach McInerney.

CCSU comes back home Halloween weekend to take on Wagner on Oct. 30 at 12 p.m.