NEW BRITAIN - It was the Cole Kelley show Saturday afternoon at Arute Field.
The Arkansas transfer passed for 338 yards on the Central Connecticut defense before halftime in the Blue Devils' 56-10 loss to No. 15 Southeastern Louisiana. The loss takes the Blue Devils to 1-2 while Southeastern improves to 2-1.
Kelley finished with 444 yards on 25-for-33 passing, finding multiple receivers open all day against CCSU's zone defense. He had four passing scores and one on the ground.
"They're a good team," said CCSU head coach Ryan McCarthy. "They're going to be a top-15 team, and they're certainly a playoff team and they're going to go relatively far in the playoffs. Their quarterback is a really good player and obviously they have skill guys. The margin for error when you play an opponent like that is very small and we didn't help ourselves."
Southeastern's prowess on offense was expected, said McCarthy. A first drive for the Lions went the distance on five plays to put Southeastern up 7-0 almost immediately.
"We didn't see anything that we weren't prepared for," said McCarthy. "They came out and threw the football, and we knew what their strength was at quarterback and the guys on the perimeter. We just couldn't get to the quarterback. We didn't generate any rush with the four down lineman and even when we brought the blitz. ... When the quarterback sits back there and has ample time to throw the ball, ... it makes it for an easy day throwing the ball.
After the score the Blue Devils struggled to keep up, but did get on the board with seven minutes to go in the first quarter on a Joe Soppi field goal from 33 yards out to make it 7-3.
Southeastern then scored 35 straight to haul off with the lead.
Scores for Southeastern came from a 52-yard pass to Austin Mitchell, a 37-yard pass to Cephus Johnson III and a 39-yard pass to CJ Turner. Turner caught the first score of the game on a 31-yard pass to cap off the opening drive.
Southeastern's receiving core was led by Turner's 119 yards on five catches. Mitchell had 116 yards on five catches as well.
"It was really just a matter of time, unfortunately, with the way we've been playing right now," said McCarthy.
A Romelo Williams 8-yard pass to Keonte Lucas scored the first points of the second half for CCSU to make the score 42-9 with the extra point going wide.
Capitalizing on all three facets of the game, offense, defense and special teams, was a big part of McCarthy's plan as they tried to improve from a narrow win last week against Wagner.
"There felt like there was improvement, but then all of sudden we'd take a step back," said McCarthy. "Whether it was on offense, defense or special teams. Just when I felt like we were getting a little positive momentum going, we do something to shoot ourselves in the foot. That seems to be a microcosm of what we are right now."
In the fourth quarter the Blue Devils were able to shake things up with the game out of reach, putting in reserves to get a look at the depth of the team. The positives out of seeing the depth was that they saw time, said McCarthy.
"I think the positive are that they played," said McCarthy. "... We had a lot of young guys that were in the plan to begin with. There's no substitute for experience and I really believe that some of these guys need to get their feet wet. ... We've got to see what some of these other guys do because we're going to need them when we get six, seven games deep into the schedule because injuries are a part of the game. We had a lot of injuries from last week."
The Blue Devils capped off the game with 290 yards of offense, possessing the ball for 35:25 of the game.
Nasir Smith led the team in rushing with 83 yards on 21 attempts. Williams led in passing with 148 yards passing and one touchdown.
Shon Mitchell also saw time under center with 47 yards on 6-for-8 passing. Isiah Williams led the team in receiving with 49 yards.
The Blue Devils had one tackle for a loss for 12 yards and had two forced fumbles with one interception.