November 5, 2011

Pioneers and Seahawks Collide Saturday in Staten Island

Complete Game Notes (PDF)

SETTING THE SCENE

The Sacred Heart football team plays the finale of back-to-back road games this Saturday at Wagner.  The Pioneers are flying high into their meeting with the Seahawks after defeating defending Northeast Conference champion Robert Morris, 27-15, last time out.  SHU is 3-0 on the road this season as they prepare to invade Staten Island, NY and picked up a win earlier this season in upper Manhattan against Columbia.  A victory over Wagner would clinch a winning season for the Pioneers for the first time since 2008.   Wagner is currently riding a seven game losing streak after picking up a win in its season opener.  The Seahawks were shutout, 24-0, versus Albany last week but have dropped three games on their current slide by one possession.

THE SACRED HEART vs. WAGNER SERIES

The Pioneers hold a slim 7-6 advantage over Wagner in the all-time series between the two programs.  The home team has dominated the series with Sacred Heart holding a 6-1 record at Campus Field and a 1-5 mark in Staten Island, NY.  The Pioneers closed out the 2010 season with a 38-22 triumph over the Seahawks in Fairfield, CT on senior day.  This year's clash comes on Wagner's senior day, the final home game of the season.

TOP RANKED PASSING ATTACK

The Sacred Heart offense boasts the best aerial attack in the Northeast Conference, averaging 235.9 passing yards per game.  Red-shirt sophomore quarterback Tim Little (Egg Harbor Twp., NJ) has improved all season, amassing 1,740 yards and 12 touchdowns.  Little's 217.5 yards per game put him atop the NEC rankings.  The Pioneer offense has spread the ball around all season with five different receivers over 200 yards for 2011.  Rich Rossi (Moosic, PA) has hauled in the most touchdowns with five while Greg Moore (Newark, NJ) leads the receiving core with 425 yards.  Last week versus Robert Morris both Moore and Rock Tate (Lantana, FL) secured TD receptions.         

SIERRA'S TIME TO SHINE

Junior linebacker Niko Sierra (Longmeadow, MA) led the Pioneer defense with a pair of interceptions as the unit shutout Robert Morris in the second half of a 27-15 victory.  Sierra also recorded six tackles and a sack en route to being named the NEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week.  Sierra had the first and final big play for the Pioneers.  His first interception kick started Sacred Heart while his final INT came with the Colonials in a goal-to-go situation late in the fourth quarter, virtually sealing a SHU victory.   

ROGER'S RIGHT FOOT

Red-shirt freshman place kicker Chris Rogers (Cazenovia, NY) knocked through a pair of field goals versus Robert Morris.  Rogers has started his career a perfect 11-for-11 on field goal attempts, including six boots from outside of the 30 yards.  Rogers is flirting with the SHU record for best field goal percentage in a season, set by Greg Tonzola's 12-for-15 campaign in 2003.

TOP RANKED PASSING ATTACK

The Sacred Heart offense boasts the best aerial attack in the Northeast Conference, averaging 235.9 passing yards per game.  Red-shirt sophomore quarterback Tim Little (Egg Harbor Twp., NJ) has improved all season, amassing 1,740 yards and 12 touchdowns.  Little's 217.5 yards per game put him atop the NEC rankings.  The Pioneer offense has spread the ball around all season with five different receivers over 200 yards for 2011.  Rich Rossi (Moosic, PA) has hauled in the most touchdowns with five while Greg Moore (Newark, NJ) leads the receiving core with 425 yards.  Last week versus Robert Morris both Moore and Rock Tate (Lantana, FL) secured TD receptions.         

SIERRA'S TIME TO SHINE

Junior linebacker Niko Sierra (Longmeadow, MA) led the Pioneer defense with a pair of interceptions as the unit shutout Robert Morris in the second half of a 27-15 victory.  Sierra also recorded six tackles and a sack en route to being named the NEC Co-Defensive Player of the Week.  Sierra had the first and final big play for the Pioneers.  His first interception kick started Sacred Heart while his final INT came with the Colonials in a goal-to-go situation late in the fourth quarter, virtually sealing a SHU victory.   

ROGER'S RIGHT FOOT

Red-shirt freshman place kicker Chris Rogers (Cazenovia, NY) knocked through a pair of field goals versus Robert Morris.  Rogers has started his career a perfect 11-for-11 on field goal attempts, including six boots from outside of the 30 yards.  Rogers is flirting with the SHU record for best field goal percentage in a season, set by Greg Tonzola's 12-for-15 campaign in 2003.

A LOOK BACK - THE 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF SHU'S NATIONAL TITLE

The 2001 Sacred Heart Football team finished a perfect 11-0 and claimed the NCAA Division I-AA Mid-Major National Championship.  Every week we will recap the Pioneers historical through the 2001 season, going through the 10 year anniversary game-by-game.

The 2001 Pioneers moved to 9-0 on the season with a dominant 58-0 rout of Saint Francis (PA).  Marvin Royal recorded two of his three touchdowns in the second quarter as SHU took a comfortable 21-0 lead into halftime.  The second half of the game featured a 76-yard fumble recovery and a blocked punt that both resulted in six points for SHU.  The convincing victory was another stride towards the completion of the Pioneers' perfect season.        

PAUL GORHAM COACH'S SHOW

Sacred Heart head football coach Paul Gorham sits down with Randy Brochu of the SHU athletic communications department every Tuesday to talk about the team.  Fans can watch the Paul Gorham Coach's show via Pioneer Vision on www.SacredHeartPioneers.com or on YouTube.  Here are some excerpts from last week's show (11/1):

On Defeating Robert Morris: "We played very, very well defensively and forced a couple of turnovers.  That gave us some short fields and we were able to go up a couple of scores and keep it that way throughout." 

On Chris Rogers:  "He's been sound for us and hopefully that continues.  You're never happy leaving the red zone without a touchdown but he ensures we leave with something."

On the Offense:  "We can be more efficient, we had some drives when we got in bad situations, third and real long, which isn't ideal for us.  We can be better, we have to be better.  But I know we can play better, I really believe that."

WE WANT SOME "MOORE"

Greg Moore (Newark, NJ) exploded for over 100 receiving yards versus Robert Morris.  Moore leads the SHU offense in both receiving and rushing so far in 2011.  The dynamic sophomore ranks eighth in the NEC in all-purpose yards per game, averaging over 105 yards per outing.

KNOCKING OFF THE CHAMPS

Sacred Heart's victory over Robert Morris snapped the program's eight game slide against defending Northeast Conference champions.  The Pioneers are now 2-11 all-time when facing the NEC's defending champion.  SHU's other victory came in 2001 as SHU defeated the Colonials en route to the Division I Mid-Major National Championship.           

BECOMING ROAD WARRIORS

The Pioneers are a perfect 3-0 on the road this season and have already surpassed their 2010 win total away from home.  If Sacred Heart can defeat Wagner it would mark the first time a SHU team has won four straight road games since 2008 when the Pioneers knocked off Iona, Marist, Saint Francis (PA), and Duquesne.        
 SHU IN THE NEC

The Pioneers are playing in their 14th season in the Northeast Conference this fall. SHU holds a 41-50 record in NEC competition since joining the league in 1998. The Pioneers won their only league championship during the 2001 campaign, notching a perfect 8-0 record. SHU finished second to Robert Morris in 2000, going 7-1 in the league. The Pioneers are coming off of an eighth place finish in 2010 with a 2-6 conference mark.   
 
SOCIAL MEDIA FRENZY

Make sure you are getting complete coverage of the Sacred Heart Football team through the Pioneers various social media outlets.  "Like" Sacred Heart University Pioneers on Facebook, "Follow" @SHUBigRed on Twitter, and "Subscribe" to the SacredHeartAthletics YouTube Channel.

UP NEXT

The Pioneers will return home next weekend for their senior day as they take on Duquesne.  Before the game and at halftime SHU will recognize the 10 year anniversary of its national championship.