Sept. 30, 2006
FAIRFIELD, CT - Senior QB Tyler Arciaga (Bonita, CA) threw three touchdowns passes, two of them to junior Corey Bundy (Selden, NY), to lead the Sacred Heart University football team to a 25-17 win over previously unbeaten Wagner College in the Northeast Conference opener for both teams.
Wagner, 4-1 and 0-1, got on the board first with just :58 left in the first quarter on a 65-yard bomb to senior wide out Chris Turner. Sacred Heart, 2-3 and 1-0, answered with a 20-yard field goal from senior Nick Passalacqua. Arciaga threw his first of the day to Bundy with 6:05 to go in the half, a 26-yarder. Passalacqua missed the extra point, but the Pioneers had a 9-7 lead.
The Seahawks regained the lead quickly. Al Phillips returned the ensuing kickoff to the SHU 40, and sophomore QB Matt Abbey connected with Turner on the first play for a score and a 14-9 Seahawk lead.
Again the Pioneers showed their resiliency when they scored four plays later on a 45-yard catch and run from Arciaga to Bundy with 3:13 left in the second quarter. Sacred Heart was penalized for excessive celebration on the TD causing the extra point attempt came from 35 yards out. Backup kicker Joe Schroeder (Jackson, NJ) missed the kick but the Pioneers had a15-14 lead.
Wagner started its final drive of the first half on their own seven and drove to the Pioneer 27-yard line. On a second and ten play on in the final ten seconds, Abbey was sacked by senior Jon Corto (Orchard Park, NY) back at the SHU 37, seemingly taking the Seahawks out of field goal range. With :05 left, Wagner coach Walt Hamline sent out senior kicker Piotr Czech for what would be an NEC record 54-yard field goal. Czech's attempt sailed through the upright with five yards to spare and Wagner took a 17-15 lead into the intermission.
Sacred Heart forced Wagner to punt on its first possession of the second half and the Pioneers turned that into a 22-yard field goal at the other end to take an 18-17 lead. Freshman Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA) set up the score when he returned a Czech punt 45 yards to the Wagner 28. Arciaga then completed an 17-yard pass to senior fullback Tom Duffy (Valley Center, CA) that took the ball to the Wagner 11. The Pioneers managed to get the ball to the Seahawk five before the drive failed.
With 6:05 left in the third, another Wagner drive stalled at the SHU 36. Rather than punt, the Seahawks brought out Czech for another long field goal attempt but his 53-yard attempt fell short.
The Pioneers got the clinching score with 11:33 to go in the game when Arciaga found senior tight end Justin Jarry (Nashua, NH) in the back of the end zone - the first of his career - for a 25-17 SHU lead. The score came on a two-play, 70 yard drive. Junior tailback Jason Payne chewed up most of it with a 58-yard run to the Seahawk 12.
Twice in the final ten minutes the Seahawks drove into SHU territory looking for a TD that would give them a chance to tie. Abbey was picked off by sophomore Jeff Hodges with 8:15 to play at the SHU 5 on a second and ten play. After the pick, the Pioneers chewed up nearly seven minutes of clock driving to the Wagner 35, before a pooch punt by Derek Marks (East Lyme, CT) pinned Wagner back to their ten with 1:36 to go.
Abbey got Wagner to the SHU 35 with :12 left when the Pioneers were flagged for a facemask that put the ball on the 18 with 6.5 seconds to play. Abbey heaved the ball into the endzone for the 6'4" Turner to go up and get, but senior safety JJ Wilson (Bloomfield, CT) out jumped him for the interception.
"When the ball was intercepted it was a sense of relief," said SHU head coach Paul Gorham. "When things don't go for you way like they haven't for us in the last few weeks, you get very apprehensive. It's important to start turning negatives into positives and that was a big one right there."