NEW BRITAN – Central Connecticut State University lost to Columbia Saturday afternoon, falling to 1-4 on the season in a 22-20 final.
The Blue Devils fell behind early, allowing a 1-yard score to quarterback Gabriel Hollingsworth, capping off a 69-yard drive to go ahead 7-0. A 30-yard field goal from Alex Felkins gave the Lions some added insurance at 10-0 before CCSU surmounted its first scoring drive.
A 15 play 92-yard scoring drive ended in a Romelo Williams pass to Jadd Doelgala for six from 14 yards out, giving the Blue Devils a three-point deficit with 4:05 to go in the first half.
The score stayed that way through intermission, and Columbia kept the pressure on the defensive side of the ball with CCSU backed up against its own end zone.
Williams, looking for an open receiver, rolled out to his right to find a man but was unable to get the ball off in his own end zone for a safety.
The two-point play proved to be a difference maker in the end when both sides came alive on offense. Another Felkins field goal gave Columbia a lead at 15-7, and a Williams pass to Tyshaun James for a 16-yard score pulled the Blue Devils closer at 15-13.
A two-point conversion attempt to negate the safety was stopped, keeping the difference at two points. Columbia’s following drive capped off with a Dante Miller 65-yard score to get the separation back with 5:38 to go. The time was enough for CCSU to break even, but the score came too late in the game on an Erik Surratt 22-yard reception with 57 seconds left in the game to make it 22-20.
An onside kick attempt went to Columbia, who kneeled out the clock in victory formation.
The Blue Devil offense finished with 288 yards passing and 52 yards rushing. Williams was sacked eight times, believed to be a Columbia school record that was done mostly by Cam Dillon’s 5.5 sacks (also a school record), with 288 yards passing and three scores.
CCSU head coach Ryan McCarthy knew the Lions were going to be good up front, and said the struggle in rushing the ball went hand-in-hand with protecting the quarterback.
“I think from the start, … their plan has always been to get the eighth or ninth guy involved with the run game,” said McCarthy. “I knew it was going to be tough sledding to run the ball inside the tackles. … We had as much problems running the ball as we did protecting the quarterback.”
The run game was led by Aaron Dawson’s 28 yards on seven attempts. Four other backs for CCSU had over 10 yards. The struggles for a team that is built to work the run first is a noticeable issue, and needs to be cleaned up and worked out with conference play looming.
“I don’t think we did a good job protecting at times and if we’re going to win games consistently, we had a pretty good shot today, we need to run the ball. We have to run the ball consistently and we weren’t able to do that,” said McCarthy. “…
Next up for CCSU is Sacred Heart at 1 p.m. in Fairfield.