Bryant blown away in sec­ond half by CCSU

Woonsocket Call - - SPORTS - By BRAN­DEN MELLO bmello@woonsock­et­call.com

SMITH­FIELD — Cen­tral Con­necti­cut State re­serve run­ning back Dan­ley Ex­il­homm was sim­ply try­ing to ac­crue a first down to keep the clock mov­ing late in the fourth quar­ter of the de­fend­ing North­east Con­fer­ence cham­pion’s clash with up­start Bryant Satur­day when the Blue Devil broke loose for a 48-yard touch­down run.

It was just that kind of sec­ond half for the Bull­dogs.

Af­ter scor­ing the game’s first 14 points on an Is­sac McCray six-yard touch­down run and a Eu­lo­gio Por­tu­gal 98-yard in­ter­cep­tion re­turn for a touch­down, the Bull­dogs were dom­i­nated in ev­ery as­pect of the game. CCSU quar­ter­back Ja­cob Dole­gala pro­duced 302 yards of to­tal of­fense and four touch­downs and the vis­i­tors ran for an im­pres­sive 442 yards in a 48-14 ham­mer­ing of the Bull­dogs at Beirne Sta­dium.

“We played an ex­tremely poor sec­ond half against an ex­cel­lent foot­ball team,” said Bryant coach James Perry af­ter the Bull­dogs were outscored 28-0 in the sec­ond half. “We didn’t play very well. This game was disap- point­ing, the sec­ond half in par­tic­u­lar be­cause I thought the kids played hard. We’ll look at it and see what we need to do bet­ter.”

Bryant (4-2, 2-1 North­east Con­fer­ence) saw its six-game con­fer­ence win­ning streak come to an end to the Blue Dev­ils, who just hap­pen to be the last NEC team to hand the Bull­dogs a de­feat. Just like that con­test in New Bri­tain last Oc­to­ber, Satur­day’s game turned when the Blue Dev­ils held Bryant out of the end zone on a goal-to-go sit­u­a­tion in the fi­nal sec­onds of the sec­ond quar­ter.

Trail­ing by six points, Bryant ad­vanced to the Cen­tral Con­necti­cut 1-yard line when se­nior quar­ter­back Price Wil­son hit re­ceiver Vinny Ni­sivoc­cia for a 15-yard com­ple­tion. Wil­son fol­lowed with an in­com­ple­tion and then he fum­bled the ball and CCSU re­cov­ered it af­ter a sack by Tymir Hin­ton. Wil­son, who com­pleted 14-of-34 passes for 168 yards, and the Bull­dogs pro­duced just 119 yards of of­fense in a score­less sec­ond half.

“Yes, very much so,” CCSU coach Peter Ros­so­mando said if he was sur­prised by his team’s de­fen­sive dis­play. “I thought our de­fense re­ally stepped up and de­fended the pass about as well as we’ve de­fended. I think we’re start­ing to fig­ure it out. We’re not any champs right now, we’re try­ing to win a cham­pi­onship just like ev­ery other team in this con­fer­ence. We were the champs last year, but we’re a com­pletely dif­fer­ent team.”

Cen­tral Con­necti­cut State (4-3, 2-0 NEC) has rushed for nearly 800 yards in the last two weeks thanks to lead back Drew Jean-Guil­laume, who car­ried the ball 23 times for 203 yards and a touch­down Satur­day. Aaron Daw­son pro­duced 99 yards and a touch­down, while Dole­gala scored three times and com­piled 78 yards on seven car­ries.

For Perry, whose de­fense al­lowed just 66 rush­ing yards last week in a one-point road win over Duquesne, CCSU’s dom­i­nant run­ning game was the most dis­heart­en­ing part of a long, frus­trat­ing af­ter­noon.

“That’s an elite foot­ball team and this league just keeps get­ting bet­ter,” Perry said. “If you want to be the cham­pion of this league, as you saw to­day, you’re go­ing to have to beat one of the best teams in the coun­try. That’s how they played. The whole sec­ond half they did ev­ery­thing very well, so we’ll take a long at how they ran it at us.”

For­mer Hen­dricken quar­ter­back Chris Hin­dle earned the start for the Bull­dogs and led the squad on a nine­play, 69-yard touch­down drive that cul­mi­nated in Mid­dle­town’s McCray scor­ing a six-yard touch­down. Bryant dou­bled its lead later in the first quar­ter when Dole­gala made his lone mis­take when Por­tu­gal in­ter­cepted his pass and went a school-record 98 yards for a touch­down.

Hin­dle and Wil­son split the snaps in the first half be­fore Wil­son ran the of­fense for the en­tire sec­ond half, ex­cept for the fi­nal drive when the game had long been de­cided.

“Chris had a good week of prac­tice, but Price is our quar­ter­back,” Perry said. “I’ve had good suc­cess play­ing guys over the years and Chris gave us a good spark on that first drive. We’ll see what we do mov­ing for­ward, but Price is our quar­ter­back.”

Dole­gala only threw one in­com­ple­tion over the fi­nal 50 min­utes of the game, as he led CCSU on three scor­ing drives in the sec­ond quar­ter to give the road side a lead it would never re­lin­quish.

Bryant drove the ball all the way to the Cen­tral Con­necti­cut 12-yard line on the first drive of the third quar­ter, but just like at the end of the first half, the Blue Dev­ils stopped the Bull­dogs on fourth down to start a dom­i­nant sec­ond half.

Cen­tral Con­necti­cut stretched the lead to 14 on a Dole­gala eight-yard touch­down run with 1:51 left in the third quar­ter. Jean-Guil­laume had an 86-yard touch­down run brought back be­cause of an early-cel­e­bra­tion penalty, but the back quickly atoned for his mis­take with a 14-yard touch­down run early in the fourth quar­ter.

Dole­gala (18 yards) and Ex­il­homm (48 yards) added touch­down runs later in the fourth quar­ter to com­plete Bryant’s mis­er­able af­ter­noon. The Bull­dogs will step out of con­fer­ence Satur­day when they travel to the Bronx to face Ford­ham.

“We’ve had a lot of big tests like last week when we went on the road against an ex­cel­lent foot­ball team and won,” Perry said. “My fo­cus is on what I can do bet­ter to make sure that sec­ond half never hap­pens again.”

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