Oct. 25, 2008
PITTSBURGH, Pa. (October 25, 2008) - The Sacred Heart Pioneers dug themselves out of an early 17-0 hole with 29 unanswered points on their way to a 29-17 win at Duquesne University Saturday afternoon in Northeast Conference play. SHU quarterback Dale Fink (Swansea, IL) overcame two first quarter interceptions in the red zone to finish 27-of-34 for 268 yards and two touchdowns, setting a new school record for career touchdowns passes at 41. Junior wide receiver Steve Tedesco caught 12 balls from Fink in the win for 121 yards, tying the school mark for catches in a game in the win.
The Pioneers (7-1, 3-1 NEC) fell behind 17-0 early in second quarter after a pair of Fink interceptions, one on the Duquesne 11-yard line and another in the end zone. After a five-for-five start to the game with a pair of touchdown throws, Dukes quarterback Connor Dixon was battered around and frustrated the rest of the way, finishing just nine-of-24 with three interceptions. The SHU defense came up with a fumble recovery and interceptions by Andre Isla (Brookhaven, NY), Rich Marrone (Brooklyn, NY) and Justin Embler (Cinnaminson, NJ) as they allowed just 171 yards of total offense. The Dukes were just four of 10 on third downs.
The Dukes (2-5, 1-3 NEC) took the opening kickoff and struck first as Dixon found a wide open Michael Rasky behind the defense on a 29-yard scoring strike and a 7-0 lead. As SHU looked to answer, Fink had the Pioneers on the move but was intercepted by Akeem Moor at the Duquesne 11-yard line and a return of 79-yards down to the Sacred Heart 10 had the Dukes knocking on the door again. Dixon took just three plays in putting his team up 14-0 hitting Conrad Carter on a third and goal play from the three.
Fink drove the Pioneers down the field once again and had his team set up first and goal on the seven but tried to squeeze a throw into the back of the end zone to his tight end and Willie Milhouse came up with the pick to end the SHU threat. Duquesne took advantage of the second Fink miscue as well, settling for a Mark Troyan 41 yard field goal after the Pioneer defense held. Troyan's kick put his team up 17-0 with 11:20 left in the second quarter.
The Pioneers finally hit pay dirt on their third drive as Fink hit running back Evin Jones (Pennsauken, NJ) on a center screen pass and the senior coasted in from 19-yards out to get the offense on the scoreboard, 17-7. A three and out on their next possession forced the Dukes into a punting situation and the Pioneers caught their first break of the day. With punter Josh Brisk set up on his 24-yard line, the snap from center sailed way over his head and out of the end zone for a safety, cutting the lead to 17-9.
SHU dug deep into their playbook off the free kick and twice came up with big plays in coming up with another score. Facing a fourth and two from their own 44-yard line, SHU lined up in punt formation but the snap went up back, fullback Brian Friedman (Point Pleasant, NJ) who rumbled for eight yards and a first down. Nine plays later the Pioneers faced another fourth down and looked as if they would settle for a 23-yard field goal attempt but head coach Paul Gorham had other plans. With Fink in as the holder, the r-sophomore took the snap and sprung up, hitting an uncovered Friedman on the sideline as the junior fullback trotted in untouched for six. SHU went for two and the tie, but the Dukes turned a Fink to Rich Rossi (Moosic, PA) attempt away.
The Dukes got the ball back with 40 seconds but saw a Dixon attempt down the field picked-off by Isla and the Pioneers went to the locker room down just two, 17-15, and ready to receive the second half kickoff. SHU didn't let the momentum shift go to waste as they got a boost by a 36-yard kickoff return from junior Stephen Gerhard (Littleton, CO) and need just eight play to cover the remaining 52 yards with Jones plunging in from one yard out on third an goal five the Pioneers their first lead at 22-17.
SHU's defense took over the game and forced another three and out by the Duke offense forcing another Brisk punt. Freshman Garry Coles (Southington, CT) mishandled the kick but was able to recover, falling on the ball inside the SHU one yard line. The Pioneer offense didn't miss a beat as Fink took the team on a 13-play journey that officially covered 99 yards as Jones plowed in for his third touchdown of the day and what proved to be the final, 29-17 with 1:01 in the third.
The Pioneer defense seal the win in the fourth quarter getting a fumble recovery and two interceptions, Marrone's coming on a fourth and goal from the Sacred Heart with just over eight minutes to play. The Pioneer final pick, a deflected Dixon pass that Embler corralled, put the game away.
Tedesco's 12-catch day tied the school mark for catches in a game set by Doug Geoffrey against Stony Brook in 2000. Tedesco also established a new career record for receiving yards as his 121 yard afternoon pushed him pass Corey Bundy (1,758 yds) and DeVeren Johnson (1,748 yds) to the top of the list with 1,796 yards and counting. The junior standout also broke his own school mark for receptions in a season (59) on Saturday, heading into the final three games with 60 grabs on the year.
Jones finished the day with workman-like numbers, running for 74 yards on 26 carries and two scores. He added three catches for 31 yards and a touchdown to his totals. Defensively, linebacker Chansler Davis (Islip Terrace, NY) had a team-high six tackles. Sophomore linebacker Brian Flumere (Milford, MA) had five stops, a sack and two forced fumbles in the win.
Sacred Heart returns home to Campus Field next Friday night to play host to Wagner College in a special "Halloween" TV broadcast, live on the MSG Network. Kick-off is scheduled for 7:00 pm.