PITTSBURGH, Pa. (October 16, 2010) – The Sacred Heart football team suffered their sixth-straight loss Saturday afternoon falling at Duquesne 37-17 in a Northeast Conference match-up. The Dukes took advantage of a pair of first quarter turnovers on special teams by the Pioneers to build what would prove to be an insurmountable 21-3 early lead. The Pioneers outgained Duquesne offensively but were hurt by three turnovers in the loss.
The Dukes won the toss, taking the ball and using a 12-play drive to put the first points of the game on the scoreboard. Quarterback Sean Patterson connected on second and goal with fullback Marek Lapinski for a four-yard score. The Pioneers responded with a scoring drive of their own on their first possession of the game, as SHU quarterback Dale Fink (Swansea, IL) engineered a seven play drive to put his team in field goal range. Place kicker Jesper Fredriksson (Gothenberg, Sweden), who missed three field goals a week ago, buried a 42-yard attempt with 5:54 left in the first quarter.
From there, a pair of turnovers on special teams proved costly for Sacred Heart. Facing a fourth and two on their own 48-yard line, the Pioneers lined up to punt but SHU punter Robert Shepard (Groton, CT) mishandled the snap and saw his fumble scooped up by defensive lineman Thaimu Bangura and returned 38-yards for a touchdown and a 14-3 lead.
On the ensuing kick-off, special team's miscues reared their head again for the Pioneers. Senior running back Marcel Archer (Miami, FL) took the kick at his own 10 yard line and faking a reverse; he made his way out to the 49-yard line but was stripped of the football. The fumble was recovered by Duquesne's Aaron Fitzpatrick and the Dukes wasted no time in capitalizing. Patterson dropped back on the first play and hit Dave Williams down the middle of the field for six and a 21-3 lead in the blink of an eye.
Duquesne extended their lead to 24-3 thanks to an Eric Duale 27-yard field goal just over five minutes into the second quarter before the Pioneer offense could find a spark. Fink hit on his longest scoring touchdown throw of the season on the ensuing drive, hooking up with wide receiver Garry Coles (Southington, CT) on a 49-yard strike for six, pulling SHU to within 24-10 with 7:39 left before half. The Dukes got the final points of the half again of the foot of Duale as he buried a 23-yard attempt with just seven ticks left for a 27-10 lead at the break.
SHU tried to get back in the game on their first drive of the second half, taking the ball down to the Duquesne 40 yard line. The Pioneers went for it on fourth and three but Fink's pass for senior Tony Patterson (Groton, CT) fell incomplete ending the offensive threat. Duquesne took advantage as running back Larry McCoy capped an eight-play drive with a seven-yard touchdown run making it 34-10 with 9:03 left in the quarter.
Sacred Heart was thwarted again on fourth down on their next possession; this time Fink's throw for Coles missed its mark at the Duquesne 23-yard line. The Pioneer defense held but the turnover bug again cost Sacred Heart. Set up first and 10 on the SHU 24 yard line, Fink was dropped for an eight-yard loss and coughed up the football as Duquesne's Alex Inda recovered at the Pioneer 16. SHU kept the Dukes out of the endzone but a 26-yard field goal off the foot of Duale pushed the lead to 37-10 with 13:25 left in the game.
Sacred Heart's Archer finished off the scoring on Saturday, rumbling his way to a 34-yard touchdown, his team-leading 10th score on the year, with 2:39 left to produce the final, 37-17. Archer finished with a productive afternoon, rushing the ball 14 times for 84 yards while also adding 142 yards on six kick-off returns.
Fink threw for 258 yards completing 24-of-42 passes with a touchdown and an interception in the loss. SHU finished with 370 yards of total offense to Duquesne's 353. The Pioneers finished six-of-14 on third down conversions while holding the Dukes to just four-of-12. Duquesne did put up points on all five of their trips into the Sacred Heart red zone on the day.
The Pioneers return home next Saturday, October 23rd when they play host to the Georgetown Hoyas on 2010 Sacred Heart Family Weekend.