SACRED HEART (2-7, 1-5 NEC) VS. ROBERT MORRIS (3-6, 2-4 NEC)
Game 10 * Fairfield, CT * Campus Field * 12:00 pm
Setting the Scene... The Sacred Heart Pioneers play host to the Robert Morris Colonials on "Senior Day" Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers will honor their 21 graduating seniors, along with their parents, before kick-off with the Colonials. SHU is looking to end a three-game slide, their longest losing streak of the season, as the close out the season against RMU and Saint Francis (PA) next week. SHU is coming off a 34-14 loss at Bryant last week where three big plays by the Bulldogs proved costly. The Pioneers defense had 17 tackles for a loss and five sacks but touchdown throws of 74 and 52 yards and an interception return put SHU in a hole they couldn't get out of. The Colonials are coming off a 17-13 win over their Pittsburgh rival Duquesne. Quarterback Jeff Sinclair tossed a 41-yard touchdown to Duane Mitchell for the winning score early in the fourth quarter.
Series Notes... This will be the 15th meeting between the Pioneers and Colonials.
- The two teams have split the previous 14 meetings.
- The Pioneers traveled to Moon Township last fall and came away with a 27-15 win.
- SHU's last win over Robert Morris at home came in 2008, 31-28
The Head Coaches... The Pioneers will be lead by interim head coach Mark Nofri in 2012. Beginning his 19th season as a member of the Pioneers coaching staff, Nofri is the longest tenured coach in Sacred Heart program history. He will lead the team with Head Coach Paul Gorham on medical leave. Nofri is also the long time linebackers coach for the Pioneers, turning out several All-Conference and All-American linebackers including Jayson Jarrett '01, Kayode Mayowa '02, Craig Capurso '02, Jon Corto '06 and Chris Mandas '11. Joe Walton started the Robert Morris football program from scratch and has led the Colonial program to a 105-85-1 record. Under Walton's directions, Robert Morris has claimed six Northeast Conference titles. Walton spent seven seasons playing in the NFL for the Washington Redskins and New York Giants. He was the head coach of the New York Jets from 1983 through 1989.
Up Next... The Sacred Heart Pioneers will close out the 2012 season next Saturday with a trip out to Loretto, PA to face the Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash. The Pioneers lead the all-time series 10-6 after 60-45 win over the Red Flash last season in Fairfield. SHU set a new Division I program record with 60 points and broke the all-time mark for yards gained with 588 in the win. Keshaudas Spence and Greg Moore became the first running back tandem in school history to both exceed 100 rushing yards in a game. Spence finished with 124 yards and four scores while Moore checked in with 152 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The two sides combined to break a NCAA FCS record by scoring 74 points in the second half, the largest-ever total in a half.
- Saturday is Senior Day on Campus Field. The Pioneers have 21 seniors in this year's class. Being honored before the game with their families are student assistant coach Steve Sibona, offensive linemen Justin Martel, Steve O'Brien, Ben Eedle and Rakendrick Varnado, quarterback Luke Wischnowski, wide receivers Jo Jo Jamiel, Rock Tate, Dave Comerford, Evan Jobst and Sean Kessler, running back Alex Testani, punters Robert Shepherd and John Kelly, defensive linemen Chaz Partosan, D.A. Hinton and Tyler Foehr, linebacker Niko Sierra and defensive backs Rhett Cowley, Mike Samela and Ahmad Covington.
- Sacred Heart has now lost three-straight, their longest losing streak of the season, falling at Bryant last Saturday, 34-14.
- SHU was hurt by three long scoring plays against the Bulldogs, giving up touchdown throws of 74 and 52 yards and a touchdown run of 57 yards. The Bulldogs also had a 48-yard interception return for a touchdown. On the season, the Pioneers have allowed 10 scoring plays of 40 yards or more.
- As a team, the Pioneers had a season-best 17 tackles for a loss against Bryant. SHU matched their season-high with five sacks against Bryant and have had at least three sacks in each of the last five games.
- The Pioneers have had a least one sack in each game this season and lead the NEC and are ranked ninth in the NCAA with 28 quarterback sacks this season.
- On the flip side, SHU has allowed a league-high 25 sacks this season.
- R-junior Chaz Partosan is tied for the NEC lead and is tied for 13th in the NCAA rankings with 7.5 sacks on the year. R-Senior Tyler Foehr is tied for 23rd in the NCAA with 5.5 sacks.
- Junior inside linebacker Justin Sexton is second in the NEC and is 20th nationally averaging 10.3 tackles per game. He has 93 total tackles, 62 have been solo stops. The SHU record for unassisted tackles in a season is 75 by Kayode Mayowa (1999). He also leads the NEC in tackles for a loss with 13.0 on the year.
- Sexton has six of the Pioneers 15 turnovers on defense this season. He has a team-leading three interceptions and three fumble recoveries.
- The Sacred Heart defense climbed the NEC rankings and is among the leaders in several categories. .
- Ranked 1st in sacks (28)
- Ranked 2nd in red zone defense (25-37 / 58.6% / 15 TD/10 FG)
- Ranked 3rd in pass defense (176.8 ypg) and in total defense (336.9 ypg)
- Ranked 4th in scoring defense (25.2 ppg)
- Nationally, SHU ranks 33rd in total defense, 9th in sacks and 21st in pass defense.
- R-junior Luke Wischnowski has taken over the starting quarterback duties and is 1-2 in his three starts. Wischnowski has set new career highs the last two-weeks vs. Albany and Bryant.
- vs. CCSU - 12-16, 86 yds, 1 TD, 1 Int. *started the game 11-for-11
- vs. Albany - 24-43, 239 yds, 3 TD, 3 Int. *career-high 3 TD throws
- vs. Bryant - 27-42, 285 yds, 2 TD, 3 Int. * career-high for compeltions & yards
- SHU has struggled on offense this season and rank last in the NEC in scoring (17.3), total offense (273.0), rushing offense (111.4) first downs (140), sacks allowed (25), third down conversions (36-126) and red zone offense (17-29 / 12 TD/5 FG).
- The Pioneers have twice this season been held to just a field goal in a loss (at Duquesne, 35-3; vs. Wagner, 12-3). The last time the Pioneers were held without a touchdown in two or more games in a season came in 2004 when they fell 27-6 at CCSU and 23-6 to Albany. In the history of the program, the Pioneers are 2-57 when scoring less than 10 points in a game.
Around the NEC...
- The Wagner Seahawks grabbed control of the race for the 2012 NEC title thanks to their shocking 30-0 win at Albany. The Seahawks carry a 6-1 NEC record and will step out of conference play this Saturday hosting Holy Cross. Wagner can clinch their first NEC Championship and a spot in the NCAA FCS Tournament when they host Duquesne on the final weekend of the season.
- Wagner quarter back Nick Doscher and cornerback Jarrett Dieudonne led the way and claimed this week's NEC Offensive and Defensive Player of the Week awards. Doscher, who threw for 253 yards and two touchdowns in a 30-0 win over Albany, picked up the NEC Offensive Player of the Week award for the second time this season. Dieudonne earned the NEC Defensive Player of the Week honor after logging three pass break-ups and 2.0 tackles for loss for the first unit to pitch a shutout in league play this season.
- The Bryant Bulldogs now own the second-longest win streak in the league, making it three-straight with a 34-14 win over Sacred Heart. Junior wide out Jordan Harris became the Bulldogs all-time leading receiver after catching a pair of touchdowns in the win. Harris leads the NEC with 46 catches for 950 yards and 12 scores. Bryant close out the year with CCSU and Bucknell, both on the road.