September 15, 2007

Pioneer Turnovers Costly in 34-10 Loss at Iona

Sept. 15, 2007

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NEW ROCHELLE, N.Y. (September 15, 2007) - The Sacred Heart Pioneers turned the ball over five times, had a punt blocked and gave up six sacks falling to the Iona Gaels, 34-10, Saturday afternoon on Mazzella Field. Iona scored three times off Pioneer turnovers, dealing SHU their first lost of 2007 while staying perfect at 3-0.

Iona (3-0) sophomore quarterback Nick Rossetti completed 15-of-24 for 214 yards, throwing four touchdowns and running for another to lead the Gaels. Rossetti threw touchdowns to four different receivers in the win while senior tailback Dane Samuels led his team in rushing with 58 yards on 11 carries.

Neither team dominated offensively, with Iona holding a 318 to 283 advantage in total yards gained, but it was the Gaels who dominated the turnover battle, forcing five while not turning it over once.

The Pioneers (2-1) took the opening kickoff and looked as if their offense wouldn't miss a beat from the last two weeks, quickly marching out to midfield. But on the seventh play of the drive, redshirt-freshman Dale Fink (Swansea, IL) threw his first interception of the year, overthrowing senior Corey Bundy (Selden, NY) on the play. After both teams traded possessions, the Pioneers committed their first turnover of the game as sophomore Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA) mishandled an Iona punt with the Gaels recovering on their own 48. Four plays later, Iona struck first with Rossetti hitting Tyler Schroeder on a 14-yard screen for a 7-0 lead.

The Gaels made it 14-0, scoring on the third play of the second quarter, a 29-yard swing pass from Rossetti to Samuels for a 14-0 lead. The SHU offense started to click midway through the quarter as they put together a 12-play drive that covered 66 yards, capped by a 35-yard Joe Schroeder (Jackson, NJ) field goal with 4:02 on the clock. SHU drove down to the Iona 12 but a six-yard sack of Fink on third-and-three forced the Pioneers to settle for the field goal attempt.

A solid defense effort by the Pioneers on Iona's next possession forced a punt and gave Sacred Heart the ball on their own 12 with just under two minutes left in the half. The Pioneer turnover bug came up and bit them once again on just the second play of the drive as junior running back Evin Jones (Pennsauken, NJ) fumbled with Iona's Rob Wright recovering on SHU's 20. It took just one play for the Gaels to strike as Rossetti hit wideout DeMarcus White who took it the 20 yards for the score and a 20-3 halftime lead.

The Pioneers looked as if they had swung the momentum to start the second half, holding Iona on their first possession and following with another 12-play scoring drive. Fink took the Pioneers 76 yards down the field and capped the drive hitting senior Joey Henley (Kent, WA) in the left corner of the endzone for a 14-yard score to cut the lead to 20-10.

SHU's defensive unit stood strong again, forcing another Gael punt, one that senior John Wilson (Bloomfield, CT) got a hand on and was downed after just 10 yards, setting the Pioneers up on the 50 yard line. The Gael defense stiffened and dropped running back Jason Payne (Cortlandt Manor, NY) for a three-yard loss on first down and sacked Fink for a 13-yard loss on second down. After a minimal gain on third down, Iona made the play of the game and took all the momentum back for good, as Reggie Dorsainvil blocked Derek Mark's (East Lyme, CT) punt and Taylor Sohns recovered at the Sacred Heart 19 yard line. Six plays later Rossetti ran it in from two yards out on third and goal to start the fourth quarter and put Iona up 27-10.

Rossetti and the Gaels put the game away on their next possession after a Fink fumble; their offense took six plays to score the game's final points, a 10 yard scoring strike to Tim Mastrino.

Fink finished the game 25-of-38 for 223 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. On the ground, Payne led all rushers with 61 yards rushing on 11 carries. Jones finished with 33 yards on 12 carries.

Fink hit senior Corey Bundy (Selden, NY) for a game-best eight receptions for 50 yards. Henley pulled in six balls for 74 yards and the score. Defensively, linebacker Chansler Davis (Islip Terrace, NY) made a game-high 11 tackles (3 solo, 8 assist), 2.5 for a loss, and a sack in the loss. Wilson turned in 10 stops from his safety position.

Iona's Jared Scotto had two and half sacks while Rob Wright finished with a pair of sacks. Dorsainvil had both interceptions of Fink in the win.

The Pioneers return home next weekend to take on the Duquesne Dukes in Campus Field. Kickoff is slated for 1:00 pm.