NEW BRITAIN - Cameron Nash had no idea he had just rushed for his third consecutive 100-yard game. All he knew was the offensive line was opening up plenty of holes.
Nash ran for 119 of the Central Connecticut football team’s 294 yards and a touchdown, while Drew Jean-Guillaume found the end zone twice for the second straight week and the defense intercepted three passes as the Blue Devils beat Penn 42-21 Saturday for their first three-game winning streak in seven years.
“I feel like with the offensive line playing the way they are, that seems to be the key to success,” Nash said. “That’s just running the ball and being physical. That’s the new Central football, being physical and moving guys around.”
Now at 3-3, 1-0 in the Northeast Conference, the Blue Devils will close out their remaining schedule against conference opponents.
“We have to handle it the right way,” CCSU head coach Pete Rossomando said. “You have to handle it the right way. The most important thing is to win the next game. We have to play a Wagner team we haven’t beaten in three years.”
The win on Saturday was a start. The Blue Devils lost the first meeting between the two schools last season, 28-16.
This time around, it was all CCSU.
The Blue Devils outgained the Quakers (2-2) 473 yards of total offense to 356, while limiting Penn to 119 yards on the ground.
Nash’s 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter and quarterback Jacob Dolegala’s 9-yard scramble in the fourth put the game out of reach for the Quakers, who were shut out in the second half.
“Going 0-3 to start the season was not as we planned,” said Dolegala, who completed 19-of-24 passes for 179 yards and a touchdown on his 21st birthday.
“The upperclassmen were sick and tired of losing, so we flipped the switch, started learning how to win games, and we’re just on the incline right now going into conference play.”
The first half, however, proved to be more challenging than what the final result on the scoreboard showed.
CCSU jumped out to an early 21-0 lead after Najae Brown’s 79-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter prompted a quarterback switch from Penn.
Nick Robinson replaced Will Fischer-Colbrie and the Quakers suddenly found their rhythm, scoring three of the half’s next four touchdowns.
A Jean-Guillaume 7-yard reception from Dolegala in between kept the lead for CCSU.
Robinson connected with Justin Watson on passes of 44 and 13 yards to cut the Blue Devils’ lead to 28-21 at the half, but that was as much damage as Robinson (15-for-22, 186 yards and three touchdowns) and the Quakers would be able to do for the remainder of the afternoon.
“There were a couple of things that were misaligned on when they scored their touchdowns,” Brown said. “I know I gave up a touchdown. It was some little things, nothing big, so we went into the locker room at halftime, talked about it and came out in the second half and executed.”
The defense certainly did. Penn managed just 93 total yards over the final two quarters, while CCSU’s offense did enough to control the final 30 minutes of play.
The Blue Devils know there is still plenty of work to do moving forward and while the team is not getting too excited about its third-straight win, they know this season already has a different feel to it.
“Our kids are playing hard and making plays and that’s what we haven’t done in the past,” Rossomando said. “When you cannot play well on defense and hold a great team like Penn to 21 points and win 42-21, I think we’re doing something right.”
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach