The Central Connecticut football team scored the first 28 points and held on for their 15th straight home victory with a 35-21 win over visiting Southern Connecticut on Saturday. The Blue Devils, 1-0 on the season, have not lost at home since the end of the 2007 season, and are now tied for the nation's longest home winning streak at the FCS level.
"We're proud of our streak, and of the way we play at home," head coach Jeff McInerney said following the game. "We had a tough second half but we continued to play the way we know how, and we're 1-0 to start the season."
Central is 6-0 in home openers under McInerney, who improved to 39-18 in his five plus season leading the Blue Devils.
"We made some plays, and we stopped them when we needed to," McInerney said. "It's the first game, and we made some mistakes, but we overcame them and became a better football team when the day was over. Now we move on and get ready for James Madison."
The Blue Devils scored the first 28 points in the game, leading 28-0 at halftime. Senior quarterback Gunnar Jespersen hit classmate Deven Baker from four-yards out for the first score and the lead that Central would never give up.
Jespersen was injured in the second quarter and did not return to the game. Back-up Jake White, a sophomore who had attempted one career pass prior to Saturday, would enter and throw a pair of touchdowns before halftime.
White's first score found Baker again, this time from eight-yards out.
Then, senior captain Gene Johnson scooped up a Southern fumble and went 23-yards for his first career touchdown. Johnson anchors a veteran defensive line, and he picked up the fumble that was forced by classmate Charles Williams and went the distance.
White's second touchdown found Matthew Tyrell from 31-yards with 59 seconds to play before halftime, giving the home team the four touchdown lead.
Southern controlled much of the second half, allowing the Blue Devils just one first down, and holding them scoreless until a late touchdown on an onside kick attempt.
Rashaad Slowley scored a pair of touchdowns and Jerome Cunningham caught another score as Southern climbed to within 28-21 with 2:31 to play. They elected to go for the onside kick, but Tyrell scooped it up and went 35 yards for his second score of the game and the 35-21 lead.
Central ran for 128 yards and threw for another 143 in the victory. Sophomore Chris Tolbert ran for 73 while senior captain Brian Fowler added 39 yards on the ground.
Baker finished the game with 62 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Tyrell had one touchdown through the air and a second on the kickoff return.
Defensively the Blue Devils intercepted a pair of Southern passes including one from London Lomax and the first of the career for Tyrell Holmes. Chris Linares added three pass break-ups, Holmes added one while recording seven tackles. Senior Isaiah Boddie led the defense with eight tackles. The Blue Devils had two picks and seven pass break-ups on the afternoon.
Central returns to action next Saturday on the road at James Madison beginning at 6 p.m. Fans can listen online at CCSUBlueDevils.com, and on ESPN Radio 1410 in the Hartford Area.
- The Blue Devils won their 15th straight home game, matching Grambling for the nation's longest home streak at the FCS level.
- Head Coach Jeff McInerney improved to 6-0 in home openers in his career.
- McInerney is now 24-2 at home in five plus seasons.
- Senior captain Gene Johnson scored his first career touchdown on a 23-yard fumble recovery in the second quarter.
- Sophomore Jake White threw his first career touchdown. He had only one pass attempt in his career before Saturday.
- Matthew Tyrell scored his first career touchdown in the second quarter. He scored his second in the fourth.
- The athletics department announced the new official name for the CCSU mascot. Kizer the Blue Devil was introduced at halftime.
- The Blue Devils wore a black 94 sticker on the back of their helmets. They were playing their first game since the death of defensive lineman Rich Royster on January 22, 2011.