Football Earns First Win of the Season, 27-16

Sept. 16, 2006

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FAIRFIELD, CT - Senior receiver A.J. Franklin (New Haven, CT) caught a 35-yard scoring strike from senior QB Tyler Arciaga (Bonita, CA) in the fourth quarter to clinch a 27-16 win for Sacred Heart University over Iona College in a non-conference football game Saturday.

Sacred Heart, 1-2, forced a Gael turnover on their first play from scrimmage when Rolando Garcia hit Iona QB Dustin Croick as he was trying to hand off and senior linebacker Jonathan Corto (Orchard Park, NY) fell on it for the Pioneers at the Iona three. Two plays later, junior running back Jason Payne (Cortlandt Manor, NY) plunged in for the touchdown. The SHU joy with the touchdown was tempered some when the extra point attempt was blocked by Reggie Dorsainvil who picked it up and ran it back for a defensive extra point to cut the Pioneer lead to 6-2.

The Pioneers opened up a 13-2 lead on a six-yard TD pass from Arciaga to junior Corey Bundy with 9:57 left in the first quarter. The pass capped a five-play, 53-yard drive.

Iona drove the ball from its own 27 to the Pioneer four as the first quarter expired. Croick made two long completions on the drive to running back Rudy Arcara (20 yards) and wide out Brian Watts (34 yards). On the first play of the second quarter SHU sophomore corner Jeff Hodges (Palm Beach, FL) made a diving interception of a Croick pass in the end zone for a touchback.

The Gaels, 0-3, did cut the gap to 13-9 with 10:45 left in the first half on a four-yard run by Dane Samuels. Iona used a little trickery in the 55-yard drive when receiver BJ Antonelli threw a 23-yard option pass to Rudy Aracara that took the ball to the SHU 16-yard line. Croick, who finished 22 of 29 for 253 yards hit Brian Watts on the next play for 12 yards that set up the score.

Sacred Heart took a 20-9 lead into the intermission when Arciaga engineered a 10-play, 70-yard drive that was capped by a two-yard TD run by sophomore Evin Jones (Pennsauken, NJ). Payne ran the ball four times on the drive for 37 yards, and Arciaga connected with Franklin twice for 25 yards. Franklin would finish the game with a career-high seven catches for 106 yards.

Iona refused to go away and a Croick sneak from the one-yard line with 5:39 left in the third quarter finished off an impressive 95-yard march that cut the Sacred Heart lead to 20-16. Twice during the drive Croick completed passes on third and 14 plays to tight end Juan Chamba to keep the Gael hopes alive.

The Pioneers answered on their next possession with the clinching score by Franklin from Arciaga. The two TD passes by Arciaga gives him 21 for his two-year career at Sacred Heart, moving him into second place all-time.

Iona looked like it might move in for another score in the fourth quarter. Croick ran for six yards on a quarterback draw to the SHU 17 but was shaken up on the play. Backup Michael Biehl came in and handed the ball off twice to get it to the Pioneer six. On the next play, Biel and fullback Rich Wroblewski mishandled a handoff and SHU sophomore linebacker Rich Marrone (Brooklyn, NY) fell on it to thwart the scoring chance.

SHU sophomore linebacker Steve Young made another big defensive play for the Pioneers with 5:11 left in the game when he made an acrobatic interception of a Croick pass.