(STATS) - The Northeast Conference title race had typically been the tightest in the FCS this decade, but Central Connecticut State won going away this season.
As a result, Pete Rossomando was named the NEC coach of the year on Wednesday.
After starting their regular season with three straight losses, the Blue Devils won their final eight games, including a 6-0 NEC mark, to finish as the first unbeaten team in the conference since Albany in 2008. Picked fourth in the preseason poll, they captured the title by two games in a conference that had co-champions in six of the seven previous seasons.
On Saturday, Rossomando will lead Central Connecticut State into its first-ever FCS playoff game against New Hampshire. The Blue Devils' winning streak is their longest since 1954-55.
"Obviously, the (title) couldn't have come at a better time," the 45-year-old Rossomando said. "You come off a 2-9 season, and a season where you think you kind of have all the pieces in place and injuries happen, and you can never really recover. We come out this year and start off 0-3 against great competition ... our kids just never wavered."
Duquesne quarterback Tommy Stuart, who accounted for 2,733 yards of total offense and 32 touchdowns this season, was named the NEC's offensive player of the year, while Bryant linebacker Tom Costigan earned the defensive award after he totaled 103 tackles and conference highs with 17 tackles for loss and 11 1/2 sacks.
The two rookie of the year awards went to Central Connecticut State offensive lineman Connor Mignone and Bryant defensive back Andre Brackett.
On the All-NEC team, Duquesne had the most first-team (eight) and overall (12) selections. Central Connecticut State was second with six and 11, respectively.
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NORTHEAST CONFERENCE POSTSEASON AWARDS=
OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Tommy Stuart, QB, Duquesne
DEFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE YEAR - Tom Costigan, LB, Bryant
OFFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Connor Mignone, LT, Central Connecticut State
DEFENSIVE ROOKIE OF THE YEAR - Andre Brackett, DB, Bryant
COACH OF THE YEAR - Pete Rossomando, Central Connecticut State
ALL-NORTHEAST CONFERENCE
FIRST TEAM OFFENSE
QB - Tommy Stuart, Duquesne, Grad
RB - Ryan Fulse, Wagner, Jr.
RB - A.J. Hines, Duquesne, So.
WR - Nehari Crawford, Duquesne, Jr.
WR - Kamron Lewis, Saint Francis, Jr.
WR - Tom Kennedy, Bryant, Sr.
TE/HB - Arthur Gilmore, Central Connecticut State, So.
OL - J'Von Brown, Central Connecticut State, So.
OL - Alex Conley, Duquesne, Jr.
OL - Matt Diaz, Wagner, R-Sr.
OL - Ben Huss, Duquesne, Sr.
OL - Connor Mignone, Central Connecticut State, R-Fr.
FIRST TEAM DEFENSE
DL - Dillon Guthro, Bryant, Jr.
DL - Amir Fenwick, Robert Morris, Jr.
DL - Seth Manzanares, Central Connecticut State, Sr.
DL - Andy Struttman, Duquesne, Sr.
LB - Thomas Costigan, Bryant, Jr.
LB - Carter Henderson, Duquesne, Sr.
LB - Randall Laguerre, Central Connecticut State, Sr.
LB - C.J. Parvelus, Sacred Heart, Sr.
DB - Delondo Byrd, Saint Francis, Sr.
DB - Jarrod Cann, Central Connecticut State, Sr.
DB - Malik Duncan, Saint Francis, Sr.
DB - Abner Roberts, Duquesne, Jr.
FIRST TEAM SPECIAL TEAMS
PK - James Cooper, Wagner, Grad
P - Andrew Zecca, Saint Francis, Jr.
RS - Jean Constant, Bryant, Sr.

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