Red zone woes continue to plague CCSU football

Published on Tuesday, 13 September 2022 15:21
Written by Cameron Beall


NEW BRITAIN – Following Saturday’s 14-10 home loss for the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils to the in-state rival Sacred Heart Pioneers, only a handful of people remained on the field. 

A few members of the gameday staff for each team cleaned the sidelines and packed up equipment. Some CCSU players caught up with family and friends along the perimeter of Arute Field. Blue Devils Quarterback Romelo Williams and wide receiver Erik Surratt, however, kept their pads on and lined back up at the 30 yard line. Surratt ran slant routes, alternating direction after each rep. Williams, with his helmet still on, followed suit feeding the ball to Surratt in front of empty bleachers.

Perhaps the two were trying to make up for a third-and-6 pass which Williams left short for Surratt at the goal line with 7:16 to play, trailing by four. With enough pace on that ball, the Devils likely would have taken a three-point lead heading into the late stages of their home opener. Instead, Central turned the ball over on downs and now have only been able to manufacture one touchdown this season despite seven trips inside the red zone.

Central head coach Ryan McCarthy took the blame for some of the missed opportunities on Saturday.

“It’s not what you call it’s when you call it,” McCarthy said.

Despite Williams’ missed throw, CCSU presented themselves with another golden opportunity with just under two minutes remaining. The Blue Devils continued to gain momentum through their running game and Nasir Smith, who helped them march to the Pioneers’ 5 yard-line.

Williams dropped back to pass on second-and-goal and was picked off by Sacred Heart’s Arsheen Jiles in the end zone, ending any semblance of a comeback for Central.

“The second down call was my call,” McCarthy said. “We should’ve just stuck with what we were doing to get down there… It’s just one of those thing where obviously it’s easy to second guess, but really what we should’ve done was run the football.”

Through two weeks of the 2022 season, the Blue Devils have had seven trips to the red zone: three at UConn, four against Sacred Heart. 

In Week 1 at UConn, the three drives that consisted of plays within the Huskies’ 25 yard-line resulted in three field goal attempts, only one of which was converted.

In Week 2 the Devils converted at a higher clip with a made field goal their first time into the red zone in the second quarter and a touchdown in the third quarter. The fourth quarter didn’t treat them as kindly, however. Central was banging on the door of the end zone in back-to-back possessions which ended by way of a turnover on downs and an interception.

The team has run 26 plays in that area to this point. 13 of which led to a gain via the run or a completed pass. The other 13 have consisted of 11 plays for either no gain or a loss, one penalty and one interception.

When the team really runs into trouble is when they get down inside the enemy’s 5 yard-line. The Blue Devils have lined up for six plays within five yards of the goal this season and have netted -17 yards, a touchdown and an interception. 

The primary source of the negative yardage is a sack which set the Blue Devils back nine yards at UConn, and a 10-yard holding penalty this past Saturday.

Williams and McCarthy have both acknowledged the self-inflicted wounds and the fact that they need to start keeping up with the opportunistic style their defense has played with.

“[The defense] is doing everything they possibly can,” McCarthy said. “They’re taking the ball away and only gave up 14 points - we should win that game… It’s just a matter of being able to finish drives and putting our players in better positions.”

The Devils travel to Southeastern Louisiana this weekend for a game with the 0-2 Lions. The teams will kick off at 7 p.m. from Strawberry Stadium in search of their first wins in 2022.

Posted in Newington Town Crier, CCSU on Tuesday, 13 September 2022 15:21. Updated: Tuesday, 13 September 2022 15:23.