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Central Connecticut State fends off Duquesne

By Andrew Gaddess, FCS Assistant

New Britain, CT (Sports Network) - Central Connecticut State overcame a late rally and a career day by Duquesne running back Larry McCoy to pull out a 31-29 win Saturday at Arute Field.

Trailing 31-23 with 1:37 remaining, quarterback Sean Patterson led the Dukes on a 12-play, 89-yard drive, culminating in a five-yard touchdown pass to Dave Williams in the back of the end-zone.

The Dukes successful two-point conversion attempt was called back however, as it was determined that receiver Akeem Moore stepped out of bounds before hauling in the game-tying pass.

The Dukes frantic comeback attempt was largely made possible by McCoy's outstanding effort.

"We had him in the backfield and he would break a couple of tackles, and that's just what good backs do," said Central Connecticut State defensive back Dominique Rose. "I salute him for that, but we've got to pick it up with our tackling."

McCoy carried the ball 24 times for 246 yards and a touchdown. The total was a career best for McCoy and the fifth-highest in the history of Duquesne football.

McCoy's effort, while brilliant, should be placed in perspective. Central Connecticut State entered today's game ranked No. 101 in the FCS in rushing defense, allowing 196.2 yards per game.

"We took a step back today," said Central Connecticut State coach Jeff McInerney, when asked about the run defense. "We've got a lot of work to do...Give (Duquesne) credit, but we've got to get better if we want to win a championship."

Despite its struggles against the run, Central Connecticut State now stands at 4-2 (3-0 NEC) and appears poised to make a run at the conference's first-ever automatic playoff bid.

"I think the automatic bid is so wonderful for our conference," said McInerney. "There is more at stake, but I don't think that changes any way the way both teams compete on the field. That's just NEC football, we play in a lot of close ones and fortunately we've been on the good side more than the bad side."

Following a bye week, the Blue Devils must endure a ferocious NEC stretch in order to secure that automatic bid.

"When you've got Albany, Wagner, Robert Morris on the road, Monmouth on the road, and back here for senior day and St. Francis, I'm going to say that is pretty tough," said McInerney.

The game at Robert Morris on Nov. 6 may prove to be the Blue Devil's toughest NEC test, and will surely hold severe playoff implications.

Robert Morris is currently tied with Central Connecticut State atop the NEC standings, and has lost just one game since falling to the Blue Devils on Oct. 10, 2009.

The Colonials will surely have the teams previous encounter, as well as the automatic playoff bid in mind.

Still, if the Blue Devils can sure up their faulty run defense, they should be capable of overcoming Robert Morris and the rest of the conference in what is truly a historic year for the NEC.

10/09 16:46:02 ET