The 22nd-ranked Sacred Heart University football team dropped a 30-27 decision to Northeast Conference foe Saint Francis University Saturday afternoon on Campus Field. The Pioneers fall to 6-2 on the season, 2-1 in league play, while the Red Flash improve to 3-5 on the season and 1-2 in league play.
Saint Francis U jumped out to a 7-0 lead on its first play when Zack Drayer took a pass from Anthony Abeid for a 33-yard touchdown receptions. The short field was set up on the prior play when DaQuan Minter intercepted RJ Noel.
The Pioneers scored the next 10 points of the game, Chris Rogers getting SHU on the board with a 23-yard field goal 5:53 into the game. After the SHU defense forced a three-and-out, the Pioneers drove to 44 yards in five plays, capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass from Noel to Tyler Dube to take a 10-7 advantage.
That remained the margin until late in the second quarter, when Drayer found Abeid for an 11-yard score, after and to finish an eight-play, 54-yard drive, with 342 to play before the break. Both teams had a pair of chances before the intermission, but traded interceptions to send SFU to halftime with a 14-10 lead.
The Red Flash scored on each of its first two drives of the second half, starting with a 63-yard connection from Drayer to Abeid on the second play of the half. Connor Caveney blocked the PAT to keep the score 20-10. The Red Flash drove 69-yards on eight plays on its next possession, capped this time by a 32-yard scoring pass from Drayer with 7:49 to play in the third quarter, to extend the lead to 27-10.
The Pioneers came storming back over the next 15 minutes of action, with a pair of touchdowns and a field goal in three consecutive possessions. The first score came from Keshaudas Spence with 2:34 to play in the third quarter, a four-yard run. Noel scampered in from 18-yards out to with 12:53 to play in the fourth quarter, and Rogers capped the comeback with a 36-yard field goal with 9:49 to play, tying the game 27-27. Saint Francis U answered on its next drive, moving the ball to the Pioneer 18 before being stopped. Lance Geesey knocked through a field goal from 35 yards out to put the Red Flash back in front, 30-27. The Pioneers were forced to punt on the next drive and then after getting the ball back, Noel was intercepted on a third-and-four pass with 1:09 to play to secure the Red Flash win.
Spence ran for a season, and game-best, 173 yards, on 23 carries and a score. Noel was 16-34 on the day passing, for 185 yards, but was intercepted three times. He also ran for 22 yards and a score. Dube caught eight passes for 109 yards, including a touchdown, his 11th of the season.
Drayer finished 13-21 for 242 yards passing, with three TD passes and an interception, and ran for 19 more yards. The nation's leading rusher, Khairi Dickson finished with 95 yards on 28 carries.
Kevin Barry had nine tackles to lead the Pioneer defense, including two sacks in the game. Candito finished with an interception and five tackles, while Sam McCain finished with a forced fumble and four tackles. Terrace Bourne had nine tackles, 1.5 for a loss, for SFU.
The Pioneers had a single-game program record 4,601 fans attend the game.
Sacred Heart continues NEC play next Saturday, November 1, with a 3:30 p.m. game at Wagner College. The game will air live on ESPN3.