FAIRFIELD - Central Connecticut (1-5) lost to Sacred Heart University (4-3) Saturday afternoon, losing the Constitution State Rivalry matchup in a 26-17 final.
Leading 7-3 in the second half, the Pioneers' Malik Grant hauled off for three scores with 183 yards rushing to help get SHU the lead and pull away.
A field goal on the opening drive by CCSU made it a two-score game, but Grant's legs were able to bring the Pioneers into field goal range, connecting from 22 yards out to make it 10-6.
A punt later in the third after a fumble and a stalled drive had CCSU backed up at its own 7-yard line, and on the first play from scrimmage the Pioneers punced on a loose ball to put them four yards from the end zone.
The fumble led to a Grant 4-yard touchdown and a 13-0 lead for SHU. From there, the life drained out of the Blue Devils as Sacred Heart's running offense flourished and the defense found ways to take CCSU out of the game.
A drive that ended in a failed 4th down try put Sacred Heart on the -34. After a pair of penalities, a 37-yard reception by Naseim Brantley gave Sacred Heart a scoring opportunity at the 5-yard line, which it later capitalized on after a penalty by way of a 15-yard rushing score by Malik Grant.
Grant went on to have one more score, a 1-yard punch in after a 49-yard attempt by him, to make it 27-10 with 8:17 to go in the first.
CCSU's offense was able to get going a little too late, scoring on an Aaron Dawon rush from two yards out for a score. Dawson had a 48-yard reception to set up the scoring drive, CCSU's third of the game.
The Blue devils had 211 yards rushing as an offense with Nasir Smith leading at 88 yards. Romelo Williams had 32 yards rushing with 101 yards passing.
COMIN' OUT HOT
The Blue Devils tightened up on defense in the first quarter, containing the Pioneers to 90 yards as its defense was able to contain Smith through the first frame of play. One of the biggest plays out of the opening frame was a fumble recovery on the SHU's opening drive that would have put the Pioneers inside the 5-yard line, but the ball popped out and was recovered by CCSU. On that drive the secondary, which has labored in prior weeks, had multiple pass deflections to avoid big yardage.
The Blue Devils made nothing of the opportunity following the recovery, and SHU was unable to respond on the next drive with a big goal line stand by CCSU at its own 2-yard line turned the ball over on downs.
A 98-yard scoring drive followed, capping off with a Smith 5-yard rushing score to put CCSU ahead 7-0 with an extra point with 11:45 to go in the half.
SHU's scoring drive saw it get the benefit of a pass interference call and an offsides call, but SHU elected for the field goal from the 11-yard line to make it a 7-3 contest at 3:04 in the second.
The Blue Devils had 124 yards at the half to SHU's 168.