Fairfield, CT- The Sacred Heart football team defeated the Big Green of Dartmouth Saturday afternoon by a score of 24-21 to pick up its first victory of the season in front of a crowd of 3,101 on homecoming weekend. Freshman Keshaudas Spence (Dorchester, MA) ripped the Dartmouth defense for 129 yards on 28 carries and found his way into the end zone twice. The Big Green had a chance to send the affair to overtime with a 53 yard field goal but defensive lineman Matt Linnehan (Worcester, MA) blocked the kick as time expired to end the game.
Sacred Heart (1-2) immediately broke onto the scoreboard, taking the opening drive of the game 60 yards to build a 7-0 advantage. The score would be the first of many milestones for the SHU offense as Spence's four yard run marked the rookie's first career touchdown. Spence, who was making his first collegiate start, rushed for 46 of the 60 yards gained by the Pioneers on the drive. The touchdown was the Pioneers first since the first quarter of the home opener with Marist.
Dartmouth (1-1) tied the game later in the 1st quarter on a 17 yard pass from quarterback Conner Kempe to Kirby Schoenthaler with 3:11 remaining. The Big Green were held to just 84 yards of offense in the first half while SHU picked up 213 yards.
The next SHU milestone came when Tim Little (Egg Harbor Township, NJ) delivered his first career touchdown pass, connecting with senior tight end Rich Rossi (Moosic, PA) from 14 yards out. The TD strike finished an 85 yard drive as Sacred Heart took a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter. The Pioneers looked to be heading for another score but their next drive stalled out around the 35 yard line. SHU decided to go with a pooch punt but Shawn Abuhoff returned it and went 90 yards to the house late in the half to send the game into the intermission tied, 14-14.
The Pioneers started the second half the same way they started the game, feeding the ball to a dominant Spence. Just over two minutes into the third quarter Spence exploded for a 29 yard touchdown run, breaking numerous tackles along the way. The Pioneers maintained the lead until the 7:18 mark, when Dominick Pierre rushed for his second touchdown of the season, crossing the goal line from 15 yards out to knot the score at 21-21.
The SHU defense would lock down the Big Green the rest of the way, including forcing the visitors into two turnovers on downs. "Our defense played hard all day," said Sacred Heart head coach Paul Gorham. "They kept grinding and gutting it out, and made some huge stops that really helped us out today."
The Pioneers saved their best drive of the contest for last as the running game flexed its muscles again. Another heavy dose of Spence allowed Sacred Heart to chew up 74 yards and run 7:50 off the clock in their final drive of the afternoon. Chris Rodgers (Cazenovia, NY) gave SHU the game's final margin, splitting the uprights with a 22 yard field goal with 1:00 left in the game.
The Big Green's final drive led to the lengthy game tying field goal attempt, which Linnehan got a hand on to seal the Pioneer victory.
Little rounded out his first collegiate win with 176 yards and a touchdown on 22-of-34 passing. Rossi paced the Sacred Heart receiving core, hauling in eight receptions for 80 yards.
The Pioneers are back in action next Saturday as they travel to New Britain, CT for a clash with the Central Connecticut State Blue Devils.