The Central Connecticut football team fell to 2-3 overall and 1-2 in Northeast Conference play with a 37-24 home loss to Sacred Heart on Saturday. Central led 21-14 at halftime, and lost for the first time in 38 games when leading at the half.
"This falls on me," said head coach Jeff McInerney. "I need to figure out, and our staff needs to figure out, who to put into positions where they can make plays. We need a little fire. Winning is tough in this league, and no one is going to come in and give you the win because of what you have done in the past. We need to get better."
Central lost back-to-back home games for the first time under McInerney, and the first time since 2003. They also dropped a 24-12 decision to Monmouth last week.
Sacred Heart outscored the Blue Devils 23-3 in the second half, including 16-0 in the fourth quarter. They forced five Blue Devil turnovers in the game, including four in the second half. Central fumbled the ball three times in the half, and lost all three.
The Blue Devils took a 14-0 lead on their first two possessions of the game, taking a 14-0 lead with 2:56 to play in the first quarter.
Sophomore Chris Tolbert ran from 15-yards out on Central's first drive, capping a 63-play drive to lead 7-0. Senior quarterback Gunnar Jespersen hit classmate Deven Baker from 10-yards out on the next possession for CCSU, and they led 14-0 in the first quarter.
Sacred Heart would cut it to 14-7 on a 16-yard scoring pass from Tim Little to Greg Moore to begin the second quarter.
Freshman Darius Lee rushed for his first career score for the Blue Devils in the second quarter. His touchdown made it 21-7 with under six minutes to play.
Moore scored his second touchdown of the game, this time on a nine-yard run, and the score went to 21-14 before halftime.
It was all Sacred Heart in the second half, as the Pioneers forced four Blue Devil turnovers, including three fumbles and an interception. They tied the game 21-21 on a Little pass to Rich Rossi in the third quarter.
Central junior kicker Juan Duque kicked a career-long 42-yard field goal in the third to make it 24-21 in favor of the home team, but that would be the last score for the Blue Devils.
SHU scored the last 16 points of the game, and won for the first time against the Blue Devils in eight tries. Little hit Robert Dim on a 50-yard scoring pass, Chris Rogers kicked a 34-yard field goal and Keshaudas Spence scored from one-yard out for the 37-24 lead.
Jespersen finished 15-for-26 fo 174 yards and a touchdown, but threw the two interceptions for CCSU. Tolbert rushed 19 times for 66 yards and his score, and Lee ran 13 times for 54 yards and his first career touchdown.
Defensively Lorenzo Baker had seven tackles, including two for a loss for Central. London Lomax had six tackles, one for a loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery.
The Blue Devils return to non-conference play next weekend, on the road at UMass. Kick-off is set for 6 p.m. in Amherst.