NEW BRITAIN - The Central Connecticut football team looked like it had the momentum heading into the final two minutes of Saturday’s game against Fordham.
But as quickly as the Blue Devils gained it, the Rams took it right back.
Two plays after Andre Morris blocked a potential game-winning field goal from Fordham’s Kyle Faciebene with 1:49 remaining in the fourth quarter, CCSU quarterback Jacob Dolegala threw what proved to be the game-winning pass - for the Rams.
Dolegala’s throw was intercepted by Lawrence Menyah and returned 29 yards for the deciding touchdown. The Blue Devils lost 38-31.
“The snap was a bit down so I didn’t get up right away and I don’t know, I just made a bad read,” Dolegala said.
CCSU (0-2) had one last attempt to either force overtime or go for the win, but Dolegala’s final pass of the afternoon was intercepted in the end zone with 10 seconds left. Dolegala finished completing 18-of-41 passes for 247 yards, with one touchdown and the two interceptions.
Fordham quarterback Kevin Anderson, meanwhile, went 17-of-29 with 265 yards, three touchdowns and one interception. He also ran for a score.
CCSU took a three-point lead into the fourth quarter before Facience hit a 40-yard field goal with 4:43 remaining to tie the score at 31.
The Blue Devils began the game scoring 17 unanswered points less than three minutes into the first quarter. Tajik Bagley returned the opening kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown. It was followed up by a Frankie Palmer 32-yard field goal less than a minute later, then Tymir Hinton returned a fumble 31 yards for the score at the 12:14 mark.
But CCSU was outscored 38-14 the rest of the way, 17-7 in the second half, even with forcing three turnovers early. The Blue Devils had to settle for Palmer’s field goal despite starting the drive on Fordham’s 14-yard line and were just 2-of-13 on third down conversions.
“It all starts with our guys up front,” CCSU head coach Pete Rossomando said. “We didn’t run the ball effectively enough in the game. We didn’t do a great job of handling what they did defensively.
“This is a new coordinator. They played Army last week, which is a triple[-option] team. You play totally different defense against a triple so we hadn’t seen them all the way through a game. That was the first time we’d seen them, so we had to make a few adjustments on the run and I don’t think we handled that very well.
“Trust me, it wasn’t major chances, but little nuances and our quarterback didn’t make throws. You have to make throws, in this game, you have to make throws. When you have guys wide open down the middle of the field, you have to make throws and Jake will be the first to tell you that.”
The Rams then responded with 21 unanswered points of their own.
Anderson ran from seven yards out to close the first-quarter scoring and made it 17-14 on the Rams’ first drive of the second when he completed a 14-yard pass to Corey Caddle. Fordham took its first lead of the game on its next possession, when Anderson connected with Andrew Price for a 14-yard touchdown. It was the first of two for Prince.
“We lost focus,” CCSU senior linebacker Randall Laguerre said. “We just have to do a better job of coming out this week, flying around, practicing.”
The Blue Devils retook the lead heading into halftime after Jose Garcia caught a 20-yard touchdown pass from Dolegala. That, however, was the high point.
Both teams scored once in the third quarter. Cameron Nash ran from two yards out midway into the third to give CCSU a 31-21 lead. It was the last time the Blue Devils scored.
Anderson found Prince again, this one from 30 yards out, with six seconds remaining in the quarter.
“Their quarterback is a really good football player,” Rossomando said. “Their kids stepped up and our kids stepped up, but we let up way too many plays.”
The Blue Devils will now have to get ready for a showdown at Youngstown State next Saturday at 2 p.m.
David Glovach can be reached at (860) 801-5085 or firstname.lastname@example.org
On Twitter: @DavidGlovach