Pioneer Comeback Bid Falls Short in 21-19 Loss to Dartmouth Big Green

Pioneer Comeback Bid Falls Short in 21-19 Loss to Dartmouth Big Green

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HANOVER, N.H.  (September 25, 2010) – The Sacred Heart Pioneers battled back from a 21-12 fourth quarter deficit but came up just short of earning the program's first win against an Ivy League school falling at Dartmouth, 21-19, Saturday afternoon.  Pioneer place kicker Jesper Fredriksson (Gothenberg, Sweden) lined-up for what would have been a go ahead 38-yard field goal attempt with just 44 seconds left but saw his kick sail wide left to allow the Big Green to escape with the victory.

The Pioneers dominated the first half of play on Saturday, leading 12-7 at the break after piling up 225 yards of offense to Dartmouth's 100.  SHU ran 44 plays in the first half, almost double that of the Big Green, but were forced to settle for two early field goals before a late second quarter touchdown gave them a five-point lead at the break. 

The third quarter was all Dartmouth as the Big Green offense held the ball for 11:50 second and ran 29 plays en route to a pair of touchdowns on the ground.  SHU senior quarterback Dale Fink (Swansea, IL) led his team back in the fourth quarter, orchestrating seven play scoring drive to cut the deficit to just two and then marched his team into position for the potential go ahead field goal.  The senior signal caller threw for 286 yards, completing 30-of-41 and a score. 

Fink and the Pioneer opened the game on an 18-play jaunt of a drive that covered 72 yards and ate up 8:47 of clock.  The Pioneers were set up first and goal on the Dartmouth seven yard line but an illegal block penalty on second and goal stalled the drive forcing SHU to settle for a Fredriksson 25-yard field goal.

The Sacred Heart defense forced a three and out and Fink led his team right down the field on their second drive, this time covering 53 yards in 11 plays.  Again, a penalty deep in the red zone proved costly as SHU was forced to settle for another three.  First and goal on the Dartmouth eight saw freshman Gregory Ibe (Queens, NY) stopped for no gain but a holding penalty knocked the Pioneers back to the 18-yard line.  The drive again stalled out resulting in a Fredriksson 33-yard attempt he knocked through.

The Big Green got their offense kick started midway through the second quarter as freshman running back Dominic Pierre finished off a 14-play drive with a three-yard plunge off left tackle for six and a 7-6 lead with 4:46 to go before the half.  Donald Kephart's ensuing kick-off sailed out of bounds and the Pioneers took full advantage of the extra penalty yardage and field position to set up one final score of the half.

Fink completed six passes on a 12-play drive while also converting three third-down opportunities to lead the Pioneers to a touchdown just before the break.  The big play on the drive came on third and nine at the Dartmouth 16-yard line as Fink hit sophomore Rock Tate (Lantana, FL) on the right sideline down to the Big Green one.  Senior running back Marcel Archer (Miami, FL) dove in from a yard out with 12 seconds left in the half to put the Pioneers back up, 12-7.  The extra point attempt was blocked and that score would hold into the locker rooms.

Dartmouth stormed out of the locker-room in the third quarter and took control right on their opening drive.  Junior quarterback Connor Kempe led his team on consecutive scoring drives that ended with touchdown runs to put his team up 21-12.  Kempe finished the quarter's first drive sneaking in from a yard out with 11:13 on the clock.  After a SHU three and out, Pierre piled in for his second score of the afternoon from seven yards out, capping a 10-play drive and giving his team a two-score lead with 5:14 left in the quarter.

Kempe had his team on the move once again on their third drive of the second half when the SHU defense finally came up with a big play to swing the momentum.  On the drive's 12-play, Kempe dropped back to pass on third-and-seven but failed to see Pioneer linebacker Ethan Ostermeyer (Brooklyn, NY) who picked the junior QB off on the Pioneer 19-yard line.  Despite a stalled drive by the SHU offense, the Pioneer defensive unit again came up with a big stand, forcing a three and out to give Fink the ball back with 3:29 left in the game and a chance at a game-winning drive.

The senior signal caller did not disappoint as he took over on his own 44-yard line and brought the Pioneers into position for the game winning kick.  Fink used his feet to pick up a third and two, with a three yard rush. After a six-yard rush by Archer got the ball to the Dartmouth 21-yard line, the Pioneers failed to hit on a pair of passes and were forced to settle for the 38-yard attempt.  Fredriksson's kick had plenty of leg but sailed wide left and the Pioneers were forced to settle for their second defeat by less the five points in the last three weeks (L, 35-31 to Robert Morris).

SHU finished with more net yards in the loss, racking up 397 yards of offense.  Penalties hurt the Pioneers all afternoon to the tune of 10 for 107 yards.  SHU was very good on third down converting nine of 15 on the day. 

Fink completed passes to 10 different receivers led by senior Mark Uyeno (Setauket, NY) who hauled in six balls for 68 yards.  Sophomore Robert Shepard (Groton, CT) had an excellent day punting averaging 43.3 yards per kick.

Defensively, freshman Steve Tellefsen (Weston, FL), making his first career start, turned in eight solo tackles, one for a loss, and a pair of pass break-ups. 

Sacred Heart returns home for a Northeast Conference match-up with in-state rival Central Connecticut State next Saturday, October 2nd.  Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 pm on Campus Field on Sacred Heart's 2010 Homecoming Weekend.