NEW YORK - It was after last weekâ€™s loss when quarterback Jacob Dolegala made it clear what the Central Connecticut State football teamâ€™s plan was for the rest of the season - run the table.
Saturday was a step in the right direction.
The Blue Devils scored in all three phases and won the turnover battle as they beat Fordham 23-14. The Rams (0-4) beat CCSU (2-2) last season on a late pick six.
But it was the Blue Devilsâ€™ defense that came up big a day when neither team was able to get much going offensively. The unit sacked Fordham quarterback Tim DeMorat five times and the Rams managed just 256 yards of total offense, including 72 rushing.
CCSU forced a pair of turnovers in the first half, including a forced fumble by junior linebacker Mike Mushaw and a blocked punt from sophomore DJ Exilhomme. The two plays led to 10 points for the Blue Devils before halftime.
Already up 7-0 after a 14-yard touchdown pass from Dolegala to Arthur Gilmore, Mushawâ€™s turnover led to a 28-yard field goal from Francis Cole. The blocked punt allowed another Dolegala to Gilmore connection with 48 seconds left in the first half. This one from 5 yards out to make it 17-6.
Dolegala finished the afternoon completing 13-of-25 passes for 168 yards with an interception, which led to Fordhamâ€™s score with just under nine and half minutes to go in the second quarter. Gilmore caught four balls for 40 yards.
Two plays after Antoni Jackson picked off Dolegala, DeMorat found Isaia Searight for the 20-yard passing touchdown.
The Rams cut the score to 17-13 with 11:11 left in the third quarter after Zach Davisâ€™ 25-yard run capped off a 6-play, 75-yard drive. But once again, CCSUâ€™s defense came up with a big play when needed.
Less than three minutes later, Grant Ibeh intercepted DeMorat and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown to effectively seal the win. It marked the eighth time in the last 25 games that the Blue Devils have returned an interception for a touchdown.
CCSU will try to make it two wins in a row next Saturday night when it takes on winless Lafayette (0-4) on the road. It will be the Blue Devils final non-conference game of the season before starting NEC play at Robert Morris on Oct. 6.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org