Bulldogs Finish NEC at 4-4 After 0-4 StartNovember 11, 2012
NEW BRITAIN, Conn. – Sophomore Ricardo McCray (Middletown, R.I.) registered his first-career 100-yard rushing game and the Bulldog defense allowed just five second-half first downs as the Bryant University football team earned its first-ever victory, 28-25, over Central Connecticut State on Saturday at Arute Field.
Trailing 17-14 at the half, the Bulldogs (4-6, 4-4 NEC) played possibly their best quarter of football all season, outscoring the Blue Devils 14-0 and outgaining them 178- -11 to earn their fourth consecutive victory after starting the season 0-6. It also marked the Black and Gold's first-ever victory over Central Connecticut in five tries.
Bryant's second-half dominance started right from the beginning. Junior Jeremy Woodson (Houston, Texas) returned the opening kickoff 80 yards for a touchdown but it was called back due to a holding penalty. The Bulldogs still put together a successful drive, however, driving 55 yards in 10 plays, taking nearly five minutes off the clock. The drive didn't end in Bryant's favor, as a 26-yard field goal attempt was no good. The momentum was swinging, however. Bryant's defense forced an immediate three-and-out and then drove again.
This time, the Black and Gold went 59 yards in eight plays with Jordan Brown (Glastonbury, Conn.) capping the drive with a one-yard TD plunge. Mike Westerhaus (Farmingville, N.Y.) hit Jordan Harris (Lincoln University, Pa.) for 19 yards to start the drive and then called his number again for 26 yards to put the ball on the CCSU two. Four plays later, on fourth-and-goal, Brown found paydirt to give Bryant a 21-17 lead.
Three plays, including two fumbled snaps, later, the Bulldogs had the ball back. On second-and-six from the CCSU 49, McCray took the handoff and then left everyone in the dust and he exploded down the sideline for a 49-yard TD run. It's the second consecutive week that McCray has produced a big run late in the game, following his 57-yard scamper against Sacred Heart a week ago.
The momentum shift, however, really took place at the end of the first half. The Blue Devils had scored 17 unanswered points and the Bulldogs hadn't had a first down since the end of the first quarter, and it appeared that trend would continue facing a fourth-and-five from their own 35. The Bulldogs had a trick up their sleeve, though, and Dom Kozlowski (Westford, Mass.) kept the snap and ran 16 yards for a first down to keep the drive alive. Four plays later, Westerhaus hit a wide-open Ryan Barrett (Holliston, Mass.) for a 15-yard touchdown, making it 17-14.
Bryant got on the board first on Saturday before CCSU took over. Two plays after a botched punt attempt by the Blue Devils, Westerhaus connected with Harris for a 34-yard TD. It was Harris's eighth consecutive game with a TD reception.
Central followed that with 17-straight points. Juan Duque kicked a 21-yard field goal and Andrew Clements threw touchdown passes of eight and 31 yards. The Blue Devils then made it interesting at the end as Clements hit Deven Baker for an 85-yard TD pass to make it 28-25 with 53 seconds left. The Bulldogs would recover the onside kick and then kill the clock to secure the victory.
After starting the game 1-of-7, Westerhaus finished 10-of-12 and threw for 144 yards and two touchdowns on the game. McCray carried the ball 13 times for 111 yards and Brown added 86 yards on 27 carries. Harris's seven catches totaled 114 yards. Jeff Covitz (Reading, Mass.) led the defense with 12 tackles and Charles Wingate (Englewood, N.J.) added his second interception of the season. Bryant's defense also forced a crucial fumble in the beginning of the fourth quarter. Starting at their own 30, the Blue Devils drove the ball inside the Bryant 20 but the drive was abrubtly halted. Denzell Jones caught a first-down pass on fourth-and-two but as he was driving to the goal line, Connor McNamara (Sandy Hook, Conn.) stripped the ball and Brendan Murphy (Totowa, N.J.) recovered the fumble to give the Bulldogs the ball back.
Bryant finishes its season next Saturday, Nov. 17 at Bucknell. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 p.m.