Pioneers Take On Robert Morris in 2010 Northest Conference Opener
Sacred Heart Pioneers (1-0, 0-0 Northeast Conference) vs.
Morris Colonials (0-1,
0-0 Northeast Conference)
Game #2 - Saturday, Sept. 11, 2010 - 12:00 pm
Setting the Scene... The Sacred Heart Pioneers play host to the Robert Morris Colonials on Saturday afternoon in the 2010 Northeast Conference opener for both clubs. Sacred Heart is coming off a 28-25 win at Marist in their opener while the Colonials dropped a 28-14 decision at Dayton to start their season. The Pioneers piled up 456 yards of total offense, split almost evenly on the ground (227) and through the air (229). Running backs Marcel Archer and Greg Ibe carried the load with two touchdowns each in the win. Robert Morris fell behind 21-0 to the Flyers and was hurt by 119 yards in penalties, a pair of turnovers and just three-of-13 on third down en route to the loss.
The Sacred Heart - Robert Morris Series... The all-time series is tied at six wins apiece after a 9-7 Robert Morris win in Moon Township, PA last fall. The Colonials took the first-ever meeting, 44-7, in 1998 and followed that with wins in 1999, 48-0, and 2000, 31-20. SHU ripped off five-straight in the series from 2001 through 2005. The Pioneers are 3-2 at home against Robert Morris and 3-4 in Moon Township.
SHU in the NEC... The Pioneers begin their 13th season of play in the Northeast Conference this fall. SHU holds a 37-48 record in NEC competition since joining the league in 1998. The Pioneers won their only league championship during the 2001 campaign, finishing a perfect 8-0. SHU finished second to Robert Morris in 2000, going 7-1 in the league. The Pioneers are coming off a seventh place finish in 2009 with a 2-6 conference mark.
Up Next... SHU is back on the road next weekend with a trip to Western Pennsylvania on the docket. The Pioneers will face the Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash on Saturday, September 18 live on Fox College Sports and the Connecticut Sports Network. Kickoff is scheduled for 12 noon.
The Head Coaches... Sacred Heart head coach Paul Gorham (New Hampshire '84) is in his seventh season on the Pioneer sideline. Gorham was named the school's seventh head coach in June of 2004 and owns a 26-38 record in his seven year career. Prior to becoming the Pioneer's head coach, Gorham had stops at UMass, Brown, New Haven and his alma mater New Hampshire. Robert Morris head coach Joe Walton (Pittsburgh '57) became the program's first head coach in July of 1993 and has led the Colonial program to a 96-68-1 record. Under Walton's directions, Robert Morris has claimed five Northeast Conference titles and a pair of Mid-Major National Championships as well as a pair of ECAC Classic wins in 1996 and 1997. Walton spent seven seasons playing in the NFL for the Washington Redskins and New York Giants. He was the head coach of the New York Jets from 1983 through 1989.
Last Meeting with Robert Morris... The Sacred Heart Pioneers held Robert Morris to just three field goals but were held to just 115 yards of total offense coming up short, 9-7, in a defensive Northeast Conference battle last Halloween. Linebacker Chris Mandas led three Pioneers with double digit tackles making a career-high 15 stops, nine solo, in the loss. In addition to Mandas' 15 tackles, linebacker Michael Zambarano and outside linebacker Brian Flumere had 12 tackles apiece. The Pioneers were limited to a season-low seven first downs, 115 total yards and just one yard rushing. Both teams punted six times in the game and were a combined five of 26 on third down. The Colonials had 241 yards of offense, 202 coming on the ground. Raphael Johnson led the ground attack with 115 yards on 27 carries. RMU place kicker Garrett Clawson hit the first of his three field goals with just 1:10 to play before halftime, connecting from 23 yards out, to give the Colonials a 3-0 advantage. In the third quarter, Clawson drilled a 35-yard field goal at the 5:28 mark to increase RMU's lead to 6-0, and his second 35-yard field goal of the contest, this time with 7:17 to play, proved to be the difference. The Pioneers finally got on the board with 5:28 remaining when Dale Fink connected with Steve Tedesco for a seven-yard touchdown pass to trim Sacred Heart's deficit to 9-7. Robert Morris ran out the final 5:20 of action behind Johnson, who rushed eight times for 47 yards in the fourth quarter alone. He started the final drive of the game with an eight-yard scamper and added his longest run of the afternoon, a 19-yard pickup, two plays later. Fink was intercepted three times on the afternoon, completing 12-of-23 for 117 yards. Down 6-0 to start the fourth quarter, Fink had the Pioneers on the move on a 10-play drive looking to take the lead. On third and six from the RMU 19 yard line, Fink was picked for third time on the day with Landers making the interception at the one yard line to thwart the drive. Tedesco caught four balls for 33 yards and a touchdown, his fifth-straight game with a score.
Last Time Out... The Sacred Heart running back tandem of senior Marcel Archer and r-freshman Greg Ibe each scored twice on the ground to lead the Pioneers to a season opening 28-25 win at Marist last Friday night. The Pioneers racked up 456 yards of total offense with Archer leading all runners with 104 yards on 22 carries including touchdown runs from six yards and one yard out. Ibe was right on his heels with 97 yards on 16 carries with a two-yard plunge and an eight-yard score to his credit. The Pioneers used a balanced offensive attack with 227 yards on the ground and 229 through the air while holding the football for nearly 35 minutes. R-Senior quarterback Dale Fink completed 22-of-28 passes for 229 yards with an interception in the win. The Pioneers took a 28-7 lead with 48 seconds left in the third but need to hold off a late Red Fox rally to earn the win. Defensively, SHU got nine tackles apiece from senior Brian Flumere and juniors Justin Embler and Chris Mandas. Seniors Bill O'Brien and Andrew Costantino each picked up a sack in the win. SHU held the Red Foxes to just 289 yards of total offense, 26 yards on the ground.
NEC Openers... the Pioneers are 6-6 in Northeast Conference openers since joining the league in 1998. SHU is 4-2 when the open the league slate at home on Campus Field and 2-4 on the road in conference openers. The Pioneers are 2-4 in their NEC openers under Head Coach Paul Gorham.
One-Two Punch on the Ground... The Pioneers entered the season looking to improve a rushing offense that ranked last in the Northeast Conference in 2009, averaging just 113.9 yards per game. After game one in 2010, SHU looks to be well on their way. SHU racked up 227 yards on the ground in their win at Marist with Marcel Archer leading the way with 104 yards and two scores. Greg Ibe totaled 97 yards with a pair of scores and averaged 6.1 yards per carry in the win. Last season, no Pioneer ran for more than 600 yards and as a team the Pioneers finished the season with just eight rushing touchdowns. Archer saw action in just six games last season battling a rash of injuries all year. But in those six games, Archer piled up 292 yards on 58 carries, a 5.0 per rush average. Archer posted one of only three Pioneer 100-yard rushing games on the season, a 109 yard performance on 17 carries with a score in the 24-14 win over Bryant. A transfer from Central Michigan prior to his junior season, Archer helped the Chippewas to a pair of Mid-American Conference Championships. A two-year letterwinner at CMU, he played in 12 games as a true freshman in 2006 and tied for team lead with seven rushing touchdowns. As a sophomore, he carried the ball 30 times for 114 yards and caught six passes for 32 yards on the season.
Fink's efficient debut... R-Senior Dale Fink completed 22-of-28 passes in the win over Marist, hooking-up with eight different receivers. Fink completed 78.6% of his passes against the Red Foxes. The Pioneers as a team led the NEC in passing in 2009, averaging 218.2 yards per game.
Uyeno Set to Step Up... Sacred Heart enters 2010 needing to find a way to replace three-time All-NEC wide receiver Steve Tedesco on the offense. Tedesco hauled in 67 balls last fall, 32 more than any other Pioneer wide out. R-Senior Mark Uyeno put his bid in to be Fink's new favorite target hauling in a career-best six passes for 57 yards in the win at Marist.
O'Brien Back and Gets a Sack... After missing all of 2009 with injury, r-senior Bill O'Brien returned to the lineup on Friday night at Marist. O'Brien moves to the outside linebacker position opposite Preseason All-NEC defensive end Justin Embler this fall and in game one, picked-up his first sack of the 2010 season. The 2008 season saw the senior earn All-NEC honors after posting 61 total tackles, third on the team, including 8.0 stops for a loss and three sacks.
Stout against the Run... The Pioneer defense allowed just 26 yards on the ground against Marist last week. Junior inside linebacker Chris Mandas, last season's leading tackler, chipped in nine stops along with junior defensive end Justin Embler and senior outside linebacker Brian Flumere. The Pioneers as a team ranked sixth last season in rushing defense (169.8). and seventh in total defense (364.3).
Covington gets his Pick... Junior cornerback Ahmad Covington came up with his first interception of the season, picking off Marist quarterback Tommy Reilly on the sidelines to help set up a SHU touchdown. Covington added another pass break-up in coverage to lead the secondary. Last season, Covington tied for the team lead with two picks and finished the year with four pass break-ups as a starter.
Special Teams Notes... Graduate student Jesper Fredriksson, who came on at the end of last season after finishing out his soccer playing career for the Pioneers, handled all of the place kicking duties in the Week 1 win at Marist. Fredriksson hit all four of his extra point attempts and averaged 60.4 yards on five kickoffs with a touchback. Fredriksson took 10 kickoffs in 2009 averaging 57.1 yards per kick with a pair of touchbacks. In his four years on the soccer pitch, Fredriksson totaled 14 goals, five assists and 33 points. R-Sophomore Robert Shepard punted twice in the win, averaging 48.0 yards per kick. Junior Garry Coles, an All-NEC special teamer in 2008, had three returns on kickoff on Friday, averaging 21.0 per return.