FAIRFIELD, Conn. (October 2, 2010) – The Central Connecticut State Blue Devils turned in 264 yards rushing and kept Sacred Heart off the scoreboard in the second half en route to a 24-14 win over the Pioneers in Northeast Conference action Saturday afternoon on Campus Field. The Pioneers were held to just 98 yards of offense in the second half as they drop their fourth-straight and fall to 0-3 in the NEC.
SHU (1-4, 0-3 NEC) quarterback Dale Fink (Swansea, IL) finished 20-of-34 in the loss, throwing for 185 yards and a first quarter touchdown to running back Marcel Archer (Miami, FL). Archer ran of 70 yards on 20 carries and added a rushing score to account for all the Pioneer points.
Central's (3-2, 2-0 NEC) Everette Benjamin ran for 127yards on 24 carries and put the stamp on the Blue Devil win with a three-yard score late in the fourth quarter. Quarterback Gunnar Jespersen threw for 75 yards and ran for 71 more. Eric Richardson ran for 67 yards on 10 carries and scored on a 20-yard scamper in the second quarter.
The Pioneers grabbed the early lead on Saturday, taking the opening kickoff and marching 72 yards for an opening score. Fink move the SHU offense down the field on 12 plays with Archer carrying the bulk of the load with seven rushes on the drive. The senior tailback finished off the drive catching a Fink pass over the middle and scoring from 18-yards out on a third-and-seven play.
CCSU answered with points on their opening drive as senior place kicker Joe Izzo buried a 33-yard field goal to cap off a 14-play drive and the Blue Devils would add to that to open the second quarter. Richardson put the Blue Devils up 10-7 with 9:05 left in the half, bouncing off a host of Pioneer tacklers on his way to a 20-yard score capping a 13-play drive.
The Blue Devils went to their bag of tricks on their next possession for another six points. Following a 23-yard scamper by Benjamin on third and six, CCSU ran a reverse pass with wideout Devan Baker hitting Richie Martin 39-yards down the field, wide open for six and a 17-7 lead with 4:26 left in the half.
Fink got his offense going and answered just before the team would go to the locker room, orchestrating an eight-play drive capped by an Archer one-yard plunge. Fink went three-for-four on the drive, completing passes to Rich Rossi (Moosic, PA), Garry Coles (Southington, CT) and Tony Patterson (Groton, CT). Fink hit Rossi on the second play of the drive for 24 yards and was helped by a 15-yard personal foul on CCSU. Fink hit Patterson, seeing his first action of the season, for 11-yards setting up SHU with a first and goal on the Central five. Two plays later, Archer took it in for the score, his team-leading seventh score on the year.
The second half belonged to Central Connecticut as the Blue Devil defense took over, holding the Pioneers to just one of eight on third down and 10 yards rushing. The Pioneers had an opportunity to tie the game at 17-17 early in the fourth quarter but came up short on a field goal miss.
Fink put together a 14-play drive but a Jesper Fredriksson (Gothenberg, Sweden) 35-yard field goal attempt missed wide left. The Pioneers converted a fourth-and-four on the drive as Fink hit Patterson for seven yards to the CCSU 32 and then overcame an intentional grounding penalty with an 18-yard completion to Coles on a third-and-15 to the 19-yard line.
The Blue Devils put the game out of reach with an 11-play drive capped by Benjamin's three yard score with 3:12 left. The CCSU defense turned the Pioneers over on downs on their last possession and was able to run the clock out for the win.
Defensively, SHU got a game-high 12 tackles from linebacker Chris Mandas (Mission Viejo, CA), eight solo and one for a loss. Defensive end Justin Embler (Cinnaminson, NJ) posted nine stops and forced a fumble while outside linebacker Niko Sierra (Longmeadow, MA) finished with eight tackles and a pass break up. Safety Rashod Underwood (Baltimore, MD) had his first interception of the season in the loss.
Sacred Heart will hit the road and head to Bryant University next Saturday, October 9th for a Northeast Conference match-up. Kick-off is slated for 1 pm.