Sacred Heart Pioneers (3-7, 1-6 Northeast Conference) vs. Wagner Seahawks (5-5, 3-4 Northeast Conference)
Game #11 - Saturday, November 20, 2010 - 1:00 pm - Fairfield, Conn. - Campus Field (4,000)
Setting the Scene... The Sacred Heart Pioneers close out the 2010 season on Saturday playing host to the Wagner Seahawks. The Pioneers are coming off a bye week after dropping a 35-23 decision to Albany on November 6th. The Seahawks come in at 5-5 overall and 3-4 in the NEC and also lost to the Great Danes in their last action, 24-14, last week. SHU senior quarterback is poised to become the Northeast Conference's all-time leading passer on Saturday, needing just 136 yards to pass Anthony Doria of Saint Francis (PA) for the record in career passing yards (8,544). Fink's favorite target junior Rich Rossi is second in the NEC with 47 catches for 623 yards and four scores.
The Sacred Heart - Wagner Series... The all-time series is tied at six wins apiece. Wagner tied the series last season with a 49-28 win on their home field. The two schools have met each season since 1998, Sacred Heart's first year in the Northeast Conference. The Seahawks took the first meeting in 1998, 40-8, in Fairfield, in what was also SHU's first-ever NEC game. The Pioneers won three-straight in the series from 2000 through 2002. SHU is 5-1 at home against Wagner and 1-5 in Staten Island. The two teams have alternated wins each year since the 2002 season, each winning on their home field. The two teams have twice played overtime games, both Sacred Heart wins, 10-7 in 2002 and 30-24 in 2004.
SHU in the NEC... The Pioneers are in their 13th season of play in the Northeast Conference this fall. SHU holds a 38-54 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... The 2010 season comes to a close this afternoon.
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 28-45 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. Wagner head coach and athletic director Walt Hameline (Brockport '75) is in his 30th season at the head of the Seahawk program and just won his 200th career game. Hameline took over the reins of the Wagner program in 1981 and has become the school's all-time winningest head coach. One of the highlights of his career was a 19-3 win over Dayton in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bowl for the 1987 NCAA Division III National Championship.
Last Meeting with the Seahawks... The Sacred Heart Pioneers got 118 yards rushing from senior Brian Friedman and 106 yards receiving from senior Steve Tedesco but were held to just a field goal in the second half falling to Wagner College, 49-28, on October 24, 2009. The two teams combined for 902 yards of offense but it was the Seahawks who outscored the Pioneers 28-3 in the second half en route to the win. The Pioneers took advantage of three Wagner turnovers in a fast paced first half that didn't feature a punt by either team. SHU piled up 340 of their 443 yards of offense over the first two quarters led by Friedman who carried the Pioneers with 98 of his yards coming in the first half. The second half belonged to the Seahawks as they put 28 points on the board and held the Pioneer offense in check, limiting SHU to one-of-five on third down and 103 total yards. The turning point of the game came at 28-28, after the Pioneers turned in a goal line stand on Wagner's two-yard line. On just the second play of their ensuing drive, SHU's Dale Fink rolled to his right and looked for tight end Chris Rapp but safety Chaz Legette read the play and came up with the interception, returning it 21-yards for six to swing the momentum. The Seahawks left no doubt in the fourth quarter as they tacked on two more scores to seal away the win. Wagner rumbled their way to 302 yards and five scores on the ground in the win. Jeremy Martinez finished with 127 yards and Nick Doscher had 123 yards on the ground to lead the way. In addition to Friedman's 118 yards rushing, Garry Coles tacked on 93 yards on seven carries.
Last Time Out... Quarterback Dale Fink set five school records and became the Northeast Conference all-time leader in touchdown passes but came up short in a fourth quarter comeback bid as the Sacred Heart Pioneers fell at home 35-23 to the University at Albany Great Danes two weeks ago. Fink completed 36 of 61 passes for 414 yards and three touchdowns but was intercepted for a touchdown late sealing the Albany win. A pair of Pioneer receivers eclipsed the 100-yard mark on Saturday in Rossi and Patterson, marking the first time two SHU wide outs have hit the century mark in the same game since a 38-21 loss at Stony Brook on October 21, 2006. Rossi hauled in 11 passes for 150 yards and a touchdown while Patterson caught 10 balls for 138 yards. The Pioneers trailed 28-23 with 4:56 left in the game when Fink and the offense got the ball and looked to put together a game-winning drive. The Pioneers used 10-plays to drive to the Albany 35-yard line, converting a pair of fourth downs along the way. Facing a second and six, Fink saw his pass batted into the air where defensive end Mike Kelly collected the tipped ball and scampered 54-yards for the game-clinching touchdown. Both teams were locked at 7-7 at the half but Albany posted three-straight touchdowns in the second half to build a 28-14 lead at the start of the fourth quarter. The Pioneers cut the lead to 28-23 thanks to a safety and a Fink to Rossi touchdown.
2010 Senior Day... The Pioneers will honor their departing senior before kick-off Saturday afternoon. Senior captains Dale Fink, Justin Smith, Bill O'Brien and Rashod Underwood along with Marcel Archer, Tony Patterson, Shawn Bennett, Ray Sheehan, Jesper Fredriksson, Tom Stripe, Mark Uyeno, Andrew Costantino and Vinny Branchini will appear for the final time in a Sacred Heart uniform.
Record Breaking Day for Fink... Senior quarterback Dale Fink set five school records and broke the Northeast Conference record for career touchdown passes in the 35-23 loss to Albany. Fink completed 36 of 61 passes for 414 yards and three touchdowns in the loss. His three TD tosses gives the senior signal caller 77 career scoring passes, eclipsing the mark of 76 set by Robert Morris's Tim Levick. Fink broke his own school records for completions in a game (36), pass attempts in a game (61) and yards passing a game (414) in the loss. Fink also broke his own record for completions for a season (235) and added a new record to his resume with 393 pass attempts this season, breaking the mark of 368 set by Tyler Arciaga in 2006.
Another NEC Record Ready to Fall... Dale Fink enters the final game of his outstanding Sacred Heart career needing just 136 yards passing against Wagner to become the NEC's all-time leading passer. Anthony Doria of Saint Francis (PA) holds the record of 8,544 yards (Fink – 8,408). When he hits 77 yards passing he will add the passing yards in a season record to his ledger (Fink 2,512 – Justin Holtfreter 2,589 in 2001). He holds every major passing record in the Pioneer annals including: career passing yards (8408), career completions (822), career passing attempts (1314), career touchdown passes (77), career completion percentage (62.6), completions in a season (235-2010), passing attempts in a season (393-2010) completion percentage in a season (67.8 - 2008), passing yards in a game (414 vs. Albany 11/6/10), completions in a game (36 vs. Albany 11/6/10), passing attempts in a game (61 vs. Albany 11/6/10), touchdown passes in a game (6 vs. Duquesne 11/14/09).