Oct. 31, 2008
FAIRFIELD, Conn. (October 31, 2008) - Sacred Heart senior running back Evin Jones (Pennsauken, NJ) rumbled his way to 170 yards and a touchdown as the Pioneers improved to 8-1 on the year with a 42-20 win over Wagner College on Halloween night. The Jones carried the ball 29 times on the night and became the sixth player in school history to rush for over a 1,000 yards in a season. SHU quarterback Dale Fink (Swansea, IL) completed 19-of-31 passes for four touchdowns in the win as the Pioneers improve to 4-1 in the Northeast Conference.
For the first time this season the Pioneers came up short in the turnover battle, turning it over three times on a pair of Fink interceptions and a fumble by the r-sophomore quarterback, but Wagner's one miscue was the difference maker in a Sacred Heart victory. Trailing 28-20, Wagner quarterback Adam Farnsworth scrambled looking to make a play down field but missed his target, seeing his errant pass falling into the hands of Pioneer senior corner Rishard Brown (Miami, FL) who returned it 51-yards for six and SHU never looked back.
Jones put the stamp on his stellar night by carrying the ball on every play of a nine-play drive that covered 38 yards, capped by his 12th rushing touchdown of the year from three yards out to seal the victory at 42-20 with 2:14 to play. The senior heads into his final two games with 1,102 yards on the season, the fourth highest single season rushing total in school history.
The Pioneers (8-1, 4-1 NEC), who held the advantage in time of possession (31:01) converted a remarkable 12 of 14 on third down Friday night and scored touchdowns on all five of their red zone possessions. SHU held a slight edge in total yards, out gaining Wagner 303 to 299. SHU took the game's opening kickoff and wasted little time in throwing the game's first points on the board as Fink found freshman Jared Kemp (Miami, FL) on third and goal to cap an 11-play drive.
Wagner (3-6, 1-4 NEC), who found success running the football with the tandem of junior Shane Smith and freshman Prince Young, settled for an Eric Ortiz 25 yard field goal on their first possession. After a Fink to junior Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA) 13-yard hook-up for six gave SHU a 14-3 lead, Wagner found pay dirt to open the second quarter on a Farnsworth to Morgan Mizell 20-yard scoring strike in the back left corner of the end zone.
The Seahawks cut it to one, 14-13, thanks to a three and out by their defense and another Ortiz field goal, this time from 33 yards out. The Pioneers were able to tack one more score on the board just before the half as Fink took SHU down the field in 10 plays capped by a one-yard strike to Tedesco for six on third and goal with just 25 ticks left and a 21-13 lead. Wagner cut the SHU lead back to one on the second half kickoff as Smith plunged in from a yard out to pull his team within 21-20.
Fink connected on his fourth touchdown of the night, the fourth time in his young career he has tossed four scores in a game tying the school record, on SHU ensuing possession. Backed-up to the 21-yard line on third and goal thanks to a holding call, Fink threw a strike to the post finding fellow r-sophomore Tony Patterson (Groton, CT) on the goal line for six and a 28-20 lead. SHU busted the game open on the Wagner's next possession as Farnsworth's only pick on the night set up Brown's heroics and a 35-20 lead with 3:53 left in the third.
The SHU defense held strong, overcoming the three Fink turnovers while stopping Wagner on fourth down three times down the stretch to help secure the win. Linebackers Rich Marrone (Brooklyn, NY) and Brian Flumere (Milford, MA) shared the team lead in tackles with eight apiece. Brown added five stops to his pick-six. The Pioneers held the Seahawks to just five of 13 on third down.
Wagner's Smith finished with 106 yards on 18 carries and a score while Young ran the ball 19 times for 81 yards in the loss. Farnsworth completed just 10-of-25 for 122 yards a touchdown and an interception.
Sacred Heart will head to Monmouth University next Saturday to take on the first place Hawks. Monmouth and Albany, both undefeated in NEC play and one game in front of the Pioneers, will face-off tomorrow afternoon for a sole possession for first place. Kick-off next Saturday is slated for 1:00 pm.