SHU Defense Lifts Pioneers to 21-10 Win over Bentley

SHU Defense Lifts Pioneers to 21-10 Win over Bentley

Sept. 6, 2008

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (September 6, 2008) - The Sacred Heart defensive unit got five turnovers and had six sacks Saturday afternoon as the Pioneers improved to 2-0 on the young season with a 21-10 win over Bentley College. SHU freshman running back Garry Coles (Southington, CT) caught touchdown passes of 35 and 10 yards from redshirt-sophomore quarterback Dale Fink (Swansea, IL) to pace the Pioneer offensive attack.

The Bentley (1-1) offense marched their way into Pioneer territory on 11 of their 15 drives but was plagued by miscues all afternoon. The Falcons had all five of their turnovers come on the SHU half of the field and inside the Pioneer 40-yard line. Bentley quarterback John White, who finished 27-of-50 for 330 yards in the loss, got his team jump started on the opening drive connecting with receiver John Studley for 51-yards to the SHU 23 on the game's fourth play. Two plays later, White was forced into an intentional grounding penalty on a sack by sophomore Brian Flumere (Milford, MA) that pushed Bentley to the brink of field goal range. Kicker Tyler McNamara's 45-yard attempt sailed left ending the Falcon threat.

Neither team could muster much offense the rest of the quarter before the Pioneers took advantage of the first Bentley mistake early in the second. White drove the Falcons down to the Sacred Heart 11-yard line but took sacks on second and third down, putting the ball on the ground following a hit from defensive end Bill O'Brien (Lafayette, NY) that was scooped up by sophomore Mike Mortali (Branford, CT) and returned 39 yards to the Bentley 35-yard line. The Pioneers took little time in capitalizing as Fink hit Coles on a swing-pass that ended in a 35-yard scamper untouched for six.

SHU (2-0) would force Bentley into turnovers on each of their next three drives as well to head into the locker room with a 7-0 lead. After driving to the SHU 36, Pioneer linebacker Rich Marrone (Brooklyn, NY) forced a Bart Stires fumble that was recovered by freshman D.J. Doyle (Thurmont, MD). A Fink interception ended SHU's ensuing drive but the Pioneer defense picked him up with a pick of their own on Bentley's next drive. White led his team on a 12-play drive into the red zone but was again snake bitten, seeing his second-and-seven pass sail high and into the arms of junior corner Andre Isla (Brookhaven, NY) at the Pioneer one-yard line thwarting the threat.

A three-and-out gave the Falcons solid field position and the chance again to tack on some points but White again saw a pass fall into Pioneer arms as sophomore Rashod Underwood (Baltimore, MD) came up with a diving pick at the SHU seven-yard line that sent Sacred Heart into the break up seven. The Pioneers held the lead on the scoreboard but it was Bentley who racked up the first half stats, posting 205 yards through the air with 12 first downs and a lopsided 21:58 of possession.

The Pioneer offense was still looking to get unhitched stating the third quarter but a punt and a pair of Fink interceptions on their first three drives kept the Falcon threat alive. After a diving pick by Bentley's Michael Duffy with 8:11 to go in the quarter, White finally got his team some points, leading the offense on a six-play drive that culminated in a McNamara 30-yard field goal.

For the second-straight week Coles was a spark for the SHU offense, taking the ensuing kick-off 23 yards to the 41-yard line and following a senior Evin Jones (Pennsauken, NJ) 44-yard catch and run with a 10-yard catch out of the backfield from Fink for a 14-3 lead. The Pioneers defense continued to bend but not break as Bentley's next drive covered eight plays and 39 yards but stalled out forcing a punt that resulted in a touchback.

The Pioneer offense went to work and took a commanding 21-3 lead on their next possession, a nine-play, 80 yard drive that ended with a Fink 13-yard bootleg around left end for the score with 11:14 left in the fourth quarter. Bentley once again moved the ball into the red zone but came away with nothing as a bad snap on second and seven from the 18-yard line was recovered by Marrone, ending yet another Falcon scoring threat.

Bentley finally saw a play go their way on SHU's next possession. After a 46-yard Derek Marks (East Lyme, CT) punt downed at the six-yard line was negated by a 15-yard personal foul penalty, Bentley made the mistake hurt. Greg O'Brien, with a host of Falcons, burst up the middle to block Marks' second attempt and Steve Hopkins scooped up the loose ball and rumbled in from 15-yards out for the score, cutting the lead to 21-10.

The Falcon defense did their job to force a pair of SHU punts to give their offense a chance but both drives in the closing minutes resulted in turnovers on downs as the Pioneers kneeled it out with 14 seconds left for the win. Marrone and freshman Ahmad Covington (Highland, NJ) had pass break-ups to end Bentley's drive with 2:35 left and Mortali had a break-up on a fourth and one to all but end the game on their last drive.

Sacred Heart's defense once again was stout against the run, allowing just 29 yards on the ground on the afternoon. Flumere and junior Chansler Davis (Islip Terrace, NY) each had a pair of sacks in the win. Flumere finished with five solo tackles, four for losses. Mortali had nine tackles, a sack, three pass break-ups and a fumble recovery while Marrone finished with eight stops, a tackle for a loss, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass break-up. O'Brien finished with five tackles, three for losses, a sack and a forced fumble.

Offensively, Fink finished 15-of-28 for 210 yards, two scores and three picks in the win. Junior Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA) caught six balls for 57 yards while Coles had three catches for 52 yards and two touchdowns. Jones ran for 56 yards on 19 carries and had 53 yards receiving on two catches.

For Bentley, White hooked up with Studley for eight completes and 158 yards in the loss.

Sacred Heart will be off this week and will return to action on Saturday, September 13th when they travel to Iona College for a 1:00 pm kick-off.