Pioneers Head to Fordham for FCS Playoffs First Round
FCS PLAYOFFS - SACRED HEART (10-2, 4-2) at FORDHAM (11-1)
1:00 PM Coffey Field (7,000) - ESPN3
Setting the Scene… In the program's first-ever FCS playoff game, the Sacred Heart
Pioneers travel to take on the Fordham Rams Saturday afternoon at Coffey Field. The
2013 Northeast Conference Champions finished the season on a three game winning
streak, clinching the NEC title with a 42-25 win at Robert Morris on November 16th.
Fordham closed out its regular season with a convincing 56-19 win at Colgate last
Saturday. Sacred Heart and Fordham have never met on the grid iron.
Last Time Out... The Sacred Heart Pioneers clinched the 2013 NEC Championship
with a 42-25 victory at Robert Morris on November 16th. Quarterback R.J. Noel
tossed three touchdowns, and added one on the ground. The Pioneer defense racked
up two interceptions, a fumble recovery, six sacks, and 12 tackles for loss. Junior running
back Keshaudas Spence pounded out 111 yards on the ground with a touchdown.
SHU clinched its first-ever FCS Playoffs berth with the win.
SHU vs. the Patriot League... The Pioneers are 3-4 all-time against teams from the
- Sacred Heart is 2-0 this season against the Patriot League, with both victories coming
on the road. SHU defeated Lafayette 26-24 on September 7th and then beat Bucknell
20-0 on September 28th.
- The Pioneers beat Georgetown at home during the 2012 season, 33-20.
Scouting the Rams... Fordam comes into the FCS Playoffs after completing the
most successful season in school history, going 11-1 in the regular season. The Rams
receieved an at-large bid into the tournament field because in 2010 the University
decided to add football scholarships which disallows them from winning the Patriot
League Championship. Fordham has been to the FCS playoffs two times prior to this
season, 2002 and 2007. Fordham has been led this season by a historic offense that
broke school records for both points scored (460) and total yards (6,252). The offense
is keyed around quarterback Mike Nebrich who threw a school record 28 touchdowns
this season, completing 284 of 379 passes for 3,576 yards. Fordham's lone loss came at
Lafayette 27-14 on November 16th. Nebrich did not play against the Leopards due to
- Coach Mark Nofri was named a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award, given to the
Football Championship Subdivision Coach of the Year by The Sports Network. Nofri was the
interim coach last season, following 18 years as an assistant coach at Sacred Heart. In Sacred
Heart's ten victories this season, it defeated teams by an average of 20 points per game. SHU
had not won more than five games since 2008. The 2013 Pioneers scored 423 points in the
regular season, second most in school history and clinched the NEC Title with one week to
play in the season.
- Redshirt sophomore quarterback RJ Noel has been added this season's Jerry Rice Watch List
for the best first-year player in the Division I Football Championship Subdivision. Noel currently
leads the NEC with 23 touchdowns and a 23:7 touchdown to interception ratio. His 20 touchdowns
is tied for 15th in the FCS. Noel has accounted for 30 Sacred Heart touchdowns through
the air and on the ground. Noel was named NEC Rookie of the Week seven times this season.
- Turnaround City... A year after going 2-9 and finishing last in the conference standings, the
Pioneers have completed the best FCS turnaround in the country this season. Sacred Heart's plus
eight wins this season is by far the best in the nation. The Pioneers have scored an incredible 226
more points this season than last. In 2012, Sacred Heart did not win its first game until week four
against CCSU for the Pioneers' only conference win of the season.
- Sacred Heart in the NEC Standings (Last Five Years):
- The Pioneers lead the country with a +22 turnover margin this season. Last season, Sacred
Heart's turnover margin was -3. The Pioneers have lost the turnover battle in each of their two
losses this season. SHU leads the country in fumble recoveries (16), interceptions (22), turnovers
forced (35), and blocked punts (3).
- Junior running back Keshaudas Spence has rushed for more yards in a single season than
any Pioneer in Sacred Heart history. With his 22-yard touchdown run in a week 12 win over
Duquesne, Spence broke Ed Pricolo's 2004 single-season rushing record (1,339 rush yards).
Spence has 1,475 (6th in FCS) yards this season and is now 281 yards shy of Pricolo's all-time record of 3,052 career rushing yards. The workhorse back also broke the Sacred Heart single seasonrushing attempts record with 256 carries this season.
- Last 5 yrs SHU team rushing ranking in NEC:
- 2012 – 8th / 9 teams – 116.8
- 2011 – 9th / 9 teams – 97.6
- 2010 – 9th / 9 teams – 99.9
- 2009 – 9th / 9 teams – 113.9
- 2008 – 4th / 8 teams – 128.7
- 2013 – 1st / 7 teams – 235.8 (13th in the nation)
- We are going Streaking... The Pioneers finished the regular season on a three game winning
streak, clinching the 2013 NEC Championship with a 42-25 win at Robert Morris on November
16th. SHU defeated Monmouth and Duquesne prior to the win at RMU.
- Sacred Heart is second in the country, averaging 10 tackles for loss per game. Kellen
Sperduto (17) and Troy Moore (16.5) are both in the top six in the Northeast Conference. Senior
defensive end Ray Hodgson is third on the team with 14.5.
- NEC Statistical Dominance... The Pioneers led the NEC in scoring offense (35.2), scoring
defense (20), total offense (406.6), total defense (313.8), rushing offense (235.8), rushing defense
(109.8), turnover margin (+22), and sacks (41) this season.
Up Next…If the Pioneers defeat Fordham, they will travel to Towson to take on the Tigers in the
FCS Playoffs Round of 16.