October 4, 2008

Pioneers Open NEC Schedule with 31-28 Win over Robert Morris

Oct. 4, 2008

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (October 4, 2008) - The Sacred Heart Pioneers got 187 yards rushing from senior Evin Jones (Pennsauken, NJ) as they improved to 5-0 on the season and 1-0 in the Northeast Conference thanks to a 31-28 win over Robert Morris in front of 3,019 fans at Campus Field Saturday afternoon. Quarterback Dale Fink (Swansea, IL) threw for a pair of touchdowns and wide receiver Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA) became Sacred Heart's all-time leader in career touchdown receptions in delivering the "Homecoming Weekend" win.

The Pioneers (5-0, 1-0 NEC) played their fifth-straight game without allowing a quarterback sack as the SHU offensive line helped guide Jones and his backfield mates to a 204 day on the ground. On the defensive side, the Pioneers gave up 441 yards of offense but once again on came up with big turnovers, recovering a fumble and getting an interception for cornerback Andre Isla (Brookhaven, NY), his third on the year.

SHU struck first, taking the opening kickoff and going 66 yards in 10 plays, capped off by a Jones one-yard plunge, his seventh touchdown on the ground this season. After a RMU three and out, the Pioneers were driving once again and looked headed for possible points before Fink was intercepted by safety Michael Landers at the 19-yard to squash the threat.

The Colonials (1-4, 0-2 NEC) got points off the SHU miscue as quarterback Erik Cwalinski hit tight end Shadrae King on a 28-yard seam route for six. Robert Morris had a chance for more points on their next drive but a 34-yard field goal attempt by Garrett Clawson sailed wide right and the Colonials saw an 11-play drive end with nothing with 9:35 left in the second quarter.

The Pioneers caught a break on their next drive as the game's second turnover after SHU was forced to punt. RMU's James O'Quinn signaled for the fair catch on his 23-yard line but couldn't handle the punt as Pioneer special tamer Stephen Gerhard (Littleton, CO) recovered the fumble. Three plays later, Fink found Tedesco for the first of his two scores in the back right corner of the end zone for a 14-7 lead with five minutes to go in the half. Neither team produced points on their last drives of the second quarter and SHU went to the locker room with a 14-7 lead.

Robert Morris took the second half kickoff and wasted little time in scoring as Cwalinski, facing a third-and-goal on the SHU four, bought some time scrambling and hit O'Quinn for the score but a bad snap on the point after try left the Colonials down 14-13. The Pioneers answered on their ensuing drive, using some trickery to get it done. After a freshman Jared Kemp (Miami, FL) end-a-round gave the Pioneers a first down on the Robert Morris 37-yard line, two-plays later saw fullback connect with Tedesco in the back of the end zone on a 25-yard halfback pass, his second career-touchdown pass, for a 21-13 lead with 7:26 left in the third.

The Colonial offense didn't skip a beat and used a 10-play drive in four minutes to pull the game even. Running back Jesse Kastelic scampered in from two-yards out followed by a Myles Russ two-point conversion to knot it at 21-21.

Fink and the Pioneer offensive attack headed back out to try and answer and grab the lead back and did just that as the r-sophomore signal caller hit his tight end, junior Chris Rapp (Ridgefield Park, NJ) on a third-down play for six and a 28-21 lead.

The Pioneer got their second turnover of the day on the Robert Morris' next play as Isla stepped in front of receiver T.J. Green to pick off a Cwalinski pass. If not for a desperation tackle by Green, Isla could have been headed for six but set the Pioneers up on the Robert Morris 40-yard line. The drive would stall out after a personal foul penalty but the SHU defense held and gave the offense the ball back with 10:30 to go.

SHU made it a two-score game, 31-21, thanks to a Joe Schroeder (Jackson, NJ) field goal that capped a 10-play drive, eating 4:38 off the clock. The Colonials, needing a score to stay in it, came-up with their biggest play facing a fourth and eight on the SHU 46-yard line. Cwalinski hit O'Quinn down the right sideline for a 41-yard game and running back Karey Murray ran it in on the next play to cut it to 31-28.

The Colonials, with one timeout remaining, elected to kickoff deep, putting the Pioneer offense back on the field with 3:38 to go. From their, Jones took over, ripping off a 30-yard run on a third-and-one. The Pioneers were able to take the clock all the way down to 20 seconds before running a play on fourth and 11 but a defensive offside penalty on RMU allowed SHU to let the clock run out, sealing the win.

Fink finished the game 17-of-25 for 143 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. Jones carried the ball a career-high 33 times in the win, finishing with 187 yards, his third 100-yard day rushing this year. R-Sophomore Tony Patterson (Groton, CT) had five catches for 64 yards while Tedesco caught five balls for 56 and two scores, moving him to the top of the career TD receptions list with 20. In addition to his interception, Isla posted a team-high nine tackles while defensive end Bill O'Brien (Lafayette, NY) and linebacker Brian Flumere (Milford, MA) each had a sack in the win.

Cwalinski threw for 260 yards, completing 19-of-31 with two scores and an interception. Running back Myles Russ finished with 126 yards on 16 carries, a 7.9 average per rush.

The Pioneers are back on the road next Saturday as they head to Saint Francis (PA). Kickoff is slated for 1 pm.

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