Pioneers Push Albany to Brink, Fall Short 23-20

Pioneers Push Albany to Brink, Fall Short 23-20

FAIRFIELD, CT (October 27, 2012) - The Sacred Heart football team gave the #20/24 ranked Albany Great Danes all they could handle on Saturday afternoon before falling 23-20 in a Northeast Conference match-up on Campus Field.  Albany's Omar Osbourne rang off a 40-yard touchdown run with 1:38 left to give the Great Danes the lead for good and keep them unbeaten in NEC play at 5-0.

The Pioneers (2-6, 1-4 NEC) went to back-up quarterback, Luke Wischnowski (West Chester, PA) to try and spark their offense and the r-junior responded by completing 24-43 for 211 yards and three touchdowns.  Wischnowski hooked up with r-senior Rock Tate (Lantana, FL) four times for 92 yards and a pair of scores.

Saturday's crowd of 3,505 people marked the second highest attendence in Campus Field and program history.  The school record is 4,726 set against these same Great Danes back on October 20, 2001.

Sacred Heart's defense held the NEC's top-offense to a season-low 23 points and 368 yards of offense in the loss.  The Pioneers got three sacks and turned the Great Danes over three times. 

The Great Danes (7-1, 5-0 NEC) picked-up their fifth-straight win and were led by their workhorse running back, senior Drew Smith who churned out 103 yards on 27 carries.  Sophomore quarterback Will Fiacchi threw for 195 yards and a pair of touchdowns to senior Ryan Kirchner. 

Albany was plagued by three turnovers including a pair of first quarter fumbles.  The Pioneers took advantage of the second of the Albany turnovers, getting the ball on the Great Dane 15-yard line.  On a third and one, Drew lost the handle and SHU's Tyler Foehr (Florence, NJ) recovered setting the Pioneers up in the redzone. 

After a SHU score was negated by a pass interference penalty, Wischnowski found Tate from 30 yards out at the back of the endzone for a 7-0 lead with 6:22 on the clock.  The Great Danes answered at the start of the second quarter, taking advantage of the first of three Wischnowski interceptions.  Junior Tramaine Wilson picked off the SHU qb and returned it 23-yards to the Pioneer 39-yard line.

Fiacchi needed just five plays to finish off the drive, finding Kirchner in the right corner for six, tying the game a 7-7 with 11:19 left in the half.  A big special teams play set the Pioneers up for their second score.  Forcing a punt with 4:18 left, SHU's Foehr broke through and got his hands on a Paul Layton punt, giving the Pioneers great field position on the Albany 40-yard line.  Facing a fourth and nine, Wischnowski got great protection and found r-sophomore Robert Dim (Sicklerville, NJ) coming across the formation.  Dim did the rest, blowing by the defense to the left pylon for 23-yards.  An extra point miss left the score 13-7 with 1:13 to play in the half.

Albany put together an impressive two-minute drill, marching down the field in 10 plays to set up what would be a 43-yard Sean Kenny field goal as time expired, leaving the Great Danes down 13-10 at the break. 

The Pioneers opened the second half with a 12-play drive but the saw a scoring chance on third and goal from the six snuffed out when Wischnowski was picked-off by Jon Morgan.  The Great Danes looked as if they flipped the momentum scoring nine plays later on a Fiacchi to Kirchner score for 19-yards out to lead 17-13. 

SHU junior Alex Aitkens (Wood Ridge, NJ) got his first pick of the year on the Great Danes next drive to end a scoring threat and the SHU defense forced punts on Albany's next two possessions letting Wischnowski go to work with 6:31 left.  The SHU signal caller marched his team down to the 26-yard line but a nine-yard sack left the Pioneers facing a third and 17.  Wischnowski found Tate who shook free and beat the defense to the right pylon for a 20-17 lead with 2:25 to play.

The capacity crowd of 3,505 had little time to celebrate as the Great Danes needed just four plays and 51 seconds to cover 62 yards for the go-ahead score.  Fiacchi found Cole King on the first play of the drive for 19-yards.  Facing a third-and-seven on the SHU 40, Albany went to a draw play and Osbourne caught the Pioneers on their heels, ripping through two defenders before going untouched into the endzone for what was the game-winning score.

SHU had 1:32 left to try and tie or go ahead but Wischnowski was intercepted for the third time on the day by Jon Morgan at the SHU 47-yard line ending the comeback hopes for the Pioneer faithful.

Sophomore running back Keshaudas Spence (Dorchester, MA) ran for 85 yards on 20 carries.  Senior punter Robert Shepherd (Groton, CT) punted five times with four pinning the Great Danes inside the 20-yard line, twice on the two-yard line.

Junior linebacker Justin Sexton (Murrieta, CA) made 11 tackles with a sack/fumble to his credit. 

The Pioneers will travel to Bryant University next Saturday to face the Bulldogs.  Kick-off is at 1:00 pm.