New York, NY - Quarterback Tim Little (Egg Harbor Twp., NJ) ripped the Columbia Lions for 371 yards and three touchdowns Saturday afternoon as the SHU Football team earned its third straight victory, 34-25. Rich Rossi (Moosic, PA) was the squad's leading receiver, hauling in two touchdown receptions on five total catches for 93 yards. Greg Moore (Newark, NJ) had another all-around solid day, racking up 160 all-purpose yards on 98 rushing yards as well as 78 receiving yards. The Pioneers have now defeated two Ivy League opponents this season after entering 2011 without ever knocking off a program from the prestigious conference.
"We believe in ourselves, that's the biggest thing," commented Little after the win. "We finally found our confidence when we beat Dartmouth and we kept rolling. The running game is going, which helps me out a little bit, and the big guys up front are doing a good job."
Sacred Heart (3-2) took the opening kick-off and marched 51 yards on nine plays to strike for the first points of the game. Garry Coles (Southington, CT), who led SHU with seven catches for 78 yards, had the biggest gain of the drive on a 16 yard strike from Little. Chris Rogers (Cazenovia, NY) split the uprights with a 32 yard field goal to put the Pioneers on top, 3-0.
Columbia (0-4) found the end zone with its first possession as the Lions needed just four plays and 1:35 to take its first lead of the afternoon. Marcorus Garrett got to the outside and turned the corner, crossing the goal line on a 16 yard run. However, the Lions would tally the first of three missed extra point chances to make the advantage just 6-3.
The Pioneers next drive reached Lions territory but eventually stalled out following a failed fourth and one attempt. The SHU defense then forced a three and out to maintain momentum and give the offense another chance to take the lead. Sacred Heart appeared poised for its first touchdown of the game but was held out of the end zone on back-to-back plays from the Lions one yard line. Rogers came on to make the 18 yard chip shot and knot the game at 6-6.
The Lions took advantage of great starting field position with 3:54 remaining in the half. Columbia went up 13-6 five plays later behind a Sean Brackett touchdown pass to Hamilton Garner. But the Pioneers ran a perfect two minute drill down the stretch and leveled the affair at 13-13 with 42 ticks left before halftime. The scoring play came Little to Rossi from 28 yards out as SHU made it two straight games scoring in the final minute of the first half.
The Sacred Heart defensive unit started the second stanza strong, forcing Columbia into a three and out while moving the Lions backwards four yards. SHU needed just 43 seconds to secure a lead that it would never surrender. Rossi again had the big play of the drive, taking a 31 yard reception down to the one yard line. The Pioneers went up to the line of scrimmage, no-huddle, and Little dove into the end zone on a quarterback keeper to make it 20-13, SHU.
Columbia's offense again was limited to just three plays by the stiff Pioneer defense. Sacred Heart got a hand on the ensuing punt, which fluttered just 14 yards up field to setup the next SHU drive in great field position. The Pioneers capitalized as Coles leaped to the pylon to finish off a 27 yard touchdown reception.
The Lions would not go quietly however, as they put together a 68 yard drive in less than three minutes on the next possession. But Stephan Thomas (Egg Harbor Twp., NJ) came flying around the left edge on the extra point attempt to block it clean, keeping SHU up by eight, 27-19.
Sacred Heart dominated the early part of the fourth quarter with an 11 play, 80 yard drive that chewed up 5:35 off the clock and cracked the scoreboard to make it a two score contest. Little completed six passes on the drive, the final to Rossi from 12 yards out to extend the SHU cushion to 34-19. Columbia appeared to still have life late on a 19 yard Garner touchdown catch with 2:34 remaining in regulation. However, another missed extra point forced Columbia's hand late, still trailing by nine.
Justin Sexton (Murrieta, CA) leapt above the crowd to secure the onside kick and essentially seal the 34-25 victory for Sacred Heart. Chris Mandas (Mission Viejo, CA) paced the Pioneer defense with nine tackles while Rueben McIntosh (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) registered two tackles for a loss. Robert Dim (Sicklerville, NJ) posted five catches for 54 yards while Sean Kessler (Huntington, NY) grabbed four passes for 32 total yards.
The Sacred Heart football team returns home next weekend to welcome the Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash to Campus Field.