Flash offense struggles on senior day
By Jon Fleck
For the Mirror
LORETTO — After starting the season 2-5, the Saint Francis University football team won two straight and had a chance to even its record in the home finale against Central Connecticut State.
The Red Flash offense struggled to move the ball consistently, however, and the defense gave up two long pass plays in a 30-14 loss Saturday afternoon on a cold, windy senior day at DeGol Field.
CCSU completed just 5-of-14 passes in the game, but a 47-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Arthur Gilmore off a fake reverse in the second quarter and an 86-yard screen pass to Drew Jean-Guillaume in the third quarter turned a tie game into a 21-7 lead for the Blue Devils.
“The two big plays we had some guys out of position,” SFU coach Chris Villarrial said. “That happens when you try to hard to make a play. We’re constantly harping on these guys to just do your job.”
The Flash got a boost from its defense late in the third quarter when Ben Bruni, one of 19 seniors playing their final home game, recovered a fumble at the CCSU 34.
A facemask penalty on the Devils moved the ball to the 19, and St. Francis cashed in when Kam Lewis scored on a 4-yard run to open the fourth quarter.
The defense got the ball near midfield on a Hakeem Kinard interception, giving the offense a chance to tie the game.
The Flash drove to the 7, but D.J. Exilhomme intercepted a Bear Fenimore pass in the end zone on 3rd-and-goal and returned it out to CCSU 30, ending the St. Francis threat.
“It’s tough. We had spots where we were doing good things, but then we’d have a dropped pass or make some type of mental mistake that would set us back,” Villarrial said. “I can’t fault the effort. It’s been great all year. We just haven’t capitalized on a few things, and that’s unfortunate.”
The Blue Devils’ rushing attack then went to work. CCSU put together a 9-play, 70-yard drive, all on the ground, to close out the win.
CCSU added a safety in the final minute to set the final score.
“It’s not the way we wanted to go out. We played our hearts out and left everything on the field,” Bruni said. “It’s been a great four years. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love the people. I love this place.”
Bruni led the Flash defense with 15 tackles. The senior captain also forced a fumble and recovered another one.
Lewis caught seven passes for 109 yards, the 14th time in his career the senior wideout has topped the century mark.
St. Francis falls to 4-6 overall, 2-3 in the Northeast Conference. CCSU improves to 6-4, 4-1 in the conference. The Blue Devils are tied with Duquesne and Sacred Heart for first place in the NEC.
The Flash close out the regular season next week with a visit to Sacred Heart.
“This is a great, hard-working senior class. I just wish things would have gone better this season. It’s unfortunate we didn’t win more games,” Villarrial said. “They represent Saint Francis very well. They’re hard workers with high GPAs. There’s a lot to be said about that.”
SCORE BY QUARTERS
CCSU 0 14 7 9 –30
St. Francis 7 0 0 7 –14
SF–Lewis 2 pass from Fenimore (Bofenkamp kick), 5:10.
CCSU–Dawson 4 run (Cole kick), 13:42.
CCSU–Gilmore 47 pass from Dolegala (Cole kick), 9:55.
CCSU–Guillaume 86 pass from Dolegala (Cole kick), 10:46.
SF–Lewis 4 run (Bofenkamp kick), 14:54.
CCSU–Dawson 3 run (Cole kick), 4:30.
CCSU–Team safety, 0:39.
TEAM STATISTICS CCSU SF
First downs 13 18
Rushes-yards 42-179 37-86
Passing 153 152
Comp-Att-Int 5-14-1 11-36-1
Return Yards 71 62
Punts-Avg. 6-42.3 8-38.3
Fumbles-Lost 3-1 1-1
Penalty-Yards 7-70 9-58
Time of Possession 28:20 31:40
RUSHING–CCSU, A. Dawson 19-90, D. Jean-Guillaume 10-35, E. Walker 7-31, J. Dolegala 4-15, J. Garcia 1-9. St. Francis, J. Jordan-Toney 16-47, J. Denley 10-23, Z. Campbell 2-15, N. Rinella 2-10, K. Lewis 1-4, B. Fenimore 5-(minus 12).
PASSING–CCSU, J. Dolegala 5-14-1-153. St. Francis, B. Fenimore 11-34-1-152, J. Brown 0-2-0-0.
RECEIVING–CCSU, D. Jean-Guillaume 1-86, A. Gilmore 2-51, J. Garcia 1-13, C. Rush 1-3. St. Francis, K. Lewis 7-109, J. Denley 2-26, Z. Campbell 1-12, C. Holder 1-5.