Payne and Fink Lead Sacred Heart Pioneers Past Marist, 41-34

Oct. 20, 2007

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FAIRFIELD, Conn. (October 20, 2007) - Sacred Heart running back Jason Payne (Cortlandt Manor, NY) ran for a career-high 207 yards and two touchdowns and quarterback Dale Fink (Swansea, IL) three for three and caught another as the Pioneers held on for a 41-34 win over Marist College Saturday afternoon on Campus Field. The Pioneers snapped a five-game losing streak with the win and improved to 3-5 overall on the year.

The Pioneers piled up 256 yards of offense in the first half of Saturday's win, scoring on each of their first four possessions. SHU took the opening kick-off and marched 80-yards on nine plays with Fink finding senior wideout Corey Bundy (Selden, NY) from 30-yards out.

Payne capped SHU's next two drive with runs of runs of three yards and 41-yards. Payne plunged in from three-yards out with 1:48 left that capped off a 15-play drive that covered 86-yards and over six minutes on the clock. Marist used eight plays to drive down to the Pioneer 13-yard line but the drive stalled and the Red Foxes lined up for a 30-yard field goal attempt. SHU's Steve Young (Brooklyn, NY) busted through and blocked the Chris Collins attempt with Rishard Brown (Miami, FL) scooping up the loose ball and giving it back to the Pioneers at their 36.

SHU's Payne made it 21-0 Pioneers scoring on a 41-yard highlight reel run six-plays later. The Pioneers got a turnover on Marist's next possession and pushed the lead to 28-0. Redshirt-sophomore Andre Isla (Brookhaven, NY) picked-off Steve McGrath at the SHU 44-yard line and returned it 25 yards to the Marist 31. The Pioneers finished off the drive with a halfback option pass as fullback Brian Friedman (Point Pleasant, NJ) hit quarterback Fink in the back of left corner of the endzone from six-yards out for the 28-0 lead.

Marist got their offense on-track on the ensuing possession, putting together a 15-play drive that covered 80-yards and just under seven minutes, finished off by a Bo Ehikioya four-yard score just before the half. The Red Foxes took the opening kickoff in the second half and it was Ehikioya again who scored this time on a one-yard plunge that cut the SHU lead to 28-14 three and a half minutes into the third quarter.

The Pioneer offense didn't skip a beat to open the second half, using 10-play and nine-play scoring drive on their first two possessions to increase their lead. Fink found sophomore Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA) on a 19-yard corner route for a score. After the SHU defense held the Marist on downs, Fink found Tedesco again on a five-yard score on the first play of the first play of the fourth quarter for what seemed to be an insurmountable 41-14. Marist had other plans as they made it a game with three-straight touchdowns.

The Red Foxes answered on the ensuing possession with McGrath hitting Keith Mitchell for a 14-yard score. The highlight of the drive came on a fourth-and-22 with McGrath finding Will Brown for 23-yards to set up the score on the SHU 14-yard line. On the kickoff, Marist opted for an onside try and hit pay dirt, recovering the ball just after it went 10-yards. McGrath led his team down and capped the 11-play jaunt with a four-yard strike to Daniel Diaz pulling his team to within 41-28.

The Marist defense held and forced the first SHU punt of the afternoon and just avoided disaster with returned Diaz fumbling the ball but recovering at his 21. McGrath faced another fourth-and-a-mile situation from his own four yard line, needing 27 yards to continue the drive. The senior QB scrambled and fired a bullet to Shaun Weaver at the 31 for a Red Fox first down. McGrath pulled his team within a score as he capped the drive with a 24-yard hook-up to Tim Keegan for six. After the extra point missed wide, Marist tried again for the onside recovery with 1:51 on the clock, but SHU's Mark Uyeno (Setauket, NY) recovered and a pair of Payne runs for a first down sealed the win.

Payne's 31 carries and 209 yards both marked career-high's for the senior running back. His two touchdowns on the day was the second time this season he had a multi-score game. Fink finished the game completing 18-of-22 for 204 yards and three scores.

Fink's first career reception for six yards also produced his first career receiving touchdown, in college or high school. Tedesco caught six balls for 67 yards and two scores with Bundy hauling in five balls for 83 yards and a touchdown. SHU's offense produced 25 first downs and 447 yards combined. The Pioneers were five-of-seven on third down and scored on all four of their red-zone chances.

Defensively, senior John Wilson (Bloomfield, CT) had 13 tackles, his fifth-straight game with double digit tackles. Brown finished with eight stops and a pass break-up. Senior defensive end Bill Hayden (Milford, PA) had six tackles and a sack in the win. In addition to his interception, Isla also had two break-ups.

Marist was led by McGrath who threw for 396 yards and three scores and also paced the team rushing the ball with 48 yards. On defense, Rory Foley made 13 tackles to lead his team.

The Pioneers close out the home portion of their schedule next Saturday, October 27th as they host the Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 pm.

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