Second Half Surge Leads Pioneers over Assumption, 42-21

Second Half Surge Leads Pioneers over Assumption, 42-21

Aug. 30, 2008

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (August 30, 2008) - Sacred Heart senior running back Evin Jones (Pennsauken, NJ) piled up a career-high 210 yards rushing and four touchdowns to lead the Pioneers back from a 14-7 halftime deficit on the way to a 42-21 win over Assumption College on opening night at Campus Field. The Pioneers, playing in their first game under newly installed lights, opened the third quarter scoring 21 unanswered points to take control of the game as Jones scored all four of his touchdowns in the second half en route to the win.

Assumption (0-1) gave SHU (1-0) all they could handle in the first half and built a 14-0 lead late into the second quarter. After seeing their opening drive stall out, the Greyhounds were forced to punt and caught their first break of the evening. Sacred Heart wide receiver Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA) fielded a Greg Nowak punt on his own 16-yard line but fumbled on the return as Keith Bates scooped it up for Assumption setting up the Greyhounds on the SHU 23.

The Pioneer defense stood tall and had Assumption fourth and eight and lining up for a Zack Okolowitcz field goal. Greyhound coach and Sacred Heart alum Adam Fuller had a trick up his sleeve as holder D.B. Haseotes took the snap and pitched one out to a wide open and uncovered Joe Fabiano for a 21-yard scoring strike on the fake to open the game's scoring at 11:18.

SHU redshirt-sophomore quarterback Dale Fink (Swansea, IL) got the Pioneer offense started on a nine-play drive on the game's next possession, driving down to the Assumption 12-yard line before an interception by linebacker Dan Hickey ended the threat. The Greyhounds struck again with a 13 play, 75-yard drive capped by a Lance Mitchell seven-yard score with 10:32 to go in the second quarter to go up 14-0.

The Greyhounds defense forced three-straight Pioneer punts and looked headed into the locker room with a 14-point lead before the SHU defensive unit swung the momentum. After a senior Derek Marks (East Lyme, CT) 46-yard punt was downed at the Assumption 26-yard line, the Greyhounds took over with 1:46 left in the half. On the series' first play, quarterback Josh Ratacik dropped back to pass and was looked to Dominique Price but senior corner Rishard Brown (Miami, FL) got a great break on the comeback route and made a diving interception to set SHU on the Greyhound 39-yard line.

Fink and the offense made the Greyhounds pay as the sophomore signal caller capped a seven-play drive with a 10-yard strike to sophomore receiver Tony Patterson (Groton, CT) with just eight ticks left to send the Pioneers into the half down just 14-7. The Pioneers carried that momentum right out of the locker room to start the second half, scoring on their first three possessions to take control of the game.

Jones did all of his damage in the second half, rumbling his way to 171 of his 210 yards during the final two quarters. His first came on a five yard plunge to cap the first drive of the third quarter. The drive was set up by a 43-yard kick-off return by freshman Garry Coles (Southington, CT) that gave SHU a first-down on the Greyhound 39-yard line. After a Assumption three and out, Jones struck again, giving Sacred Heart their first lead, 21-14, with a 50-yard jaunt at the 8:47 mark.

The Pioneers forced another punt and Coles struck pay dirt on a 68-yard scamper for his first career score for a 28-14 lead with 2:31 to go. The Greyhounds cut it to one score with 11 minutes to go in the fourth as Herbert Woodward ran one in from nine-yards out to get within 28-21. It was all Jones from there, capping an eight play drive on the ensuing kick-off with a nine-yard plunge for a two-score lead with 7:26 left.

The Greyhounds tried to mount one last effort at some late game heroics but the SHU defense wouldn't allow it. A 52-yard hook-up from Ratacik to Marcus Nichols set up Assumption first and goal on the Pioneer 10-yard line, but a fumble on an option play on first down resulted in a loss of three and the Sacred Heart defense clamped down, getting the ball back on downs. Assumption forced a SHU punt and got the ball back on the Pioneer 47-yard line but a sack of Ratacik by junior Chansler Davis (Islip Terrace, NY) resulted in a fumble that pushed the offense back to their own 37 and the Pioneers got the ball back after a fourth down fumble that was recovered by senior Anthony Mortali (Branford, CT).

Jones put the stamp on the win as his final carry went for 42-yards and his fourth score with 1:01 left to seal the victory. He finished the afternoon carrying the ball 22 times in the win as the team ran for 279 yards in the win. Coles rattled off 82-yards on just four carries. Fink completed 23-of-35 passes on the night for 175 yards, a score and an interception. Preseason All-NEC receiver Tedesco finished with nine grabs for 97 yards while Patters on had four catches for 40 yards and a score.

The Pioneer defensive unit allowed just 55 yards rushing on the night and held the Greyhounds to just three-of-14 on the third down conversions. Junior Andre Isla (Brookhaven, NY), senior Rich Marrone (Brooklyn, NY) and senior Steve Young (Brooklyn, NY) all had a team-high six tackles apiece. Davis finished with four stops, a sack and a forced fumble while both Brown and sophomore Mike Mortali (Branford, CT) had interceptions. Freshman Ahmad Covington (Highland, NJ) forced a fumble in the fourth quarter.

Assumption's Josh Ratacik completed 19-of-38 for 190 yards and a pick in the loss. Price caught seven balls for 78 yards. Defensively, Chris Martino led all players with 11 tackles followed by Dustin Zitzman who had 10 stops.

The Pioneers will remain at home next week and play host to another school from the Northeast-10 Conference as the Bentley Falcons come calling for a 6:00 pm start on Saturday, September 6th.