Sacred Heart Pioneers Deliver Homecoming Win, 24-14, over Bryant Bulldogs
Nov. 7, 2009
FAIRFIELD, CT (November 7, 2009) - Sacred Heart got 109 yards rushing from junior Marcel Archer (Miami, FL) and a pair of touchdown passes from junior quarterback Dale Fink (Swansea, IL) while pitching a second half shutout on the way to a 24-14 win over Bryant University on "Homecoming Weekend". Pioneer sophomore linebackers Michael Zambarano (Natick, MA) and Chris Mandas (Mission Viejo, CA) had a game-high 11 tackles and a sack each to lead the defensive charge in snapping a three-game slide.
Senior Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA) added another school record to his already impressive resume, hauling in his 33rd career touchdown in the second quarter, tying Pioneer great Ed Pricolo '05 for the Sacred Heart career scoring record. Tedesco finished the game with six catches for 76 yards, pulling in a touchdown in his sixth-straight game.
The Pioneers (2-7, 2-5 NEC) struck first, taking the opening kickoff and marching 71 yards in 13 plays, capped by a freshman Jason Plescow (Miami, FL) field goal. SHU used a heavy dose of Archer and senior fullback Brian Friedman (Point Pleasant, NJ) on the drive, rushing nine times on the opening possession. The Pioneers set up first down on the Bryant 13-yard line but faced a fourth and one at the four, settling for the Plescow three. The freshman place kicker extended his streak to six-for-six on field goal attempts since taking over the kicking duties in the Monmouth game.
After a pair of three-and-outs, the Bryant (3-6, 2-4 NEC) offense found its stride at the end of the first quarter, putting together a seven play drive that produced a touchdown. Sophomore quarterback Mike Croce had the big play on the drive, finding running back Mike Canfora on a 23-yard pick-up to convert a fourth-and-14 down to the Pioneer six-yard line. Just two plays later, Canfora gave the Bulldogs a 7-3 lead plunging in from two yards out with 14:22 to go in the second quarter.
Fink and the Pioneers answered right back with a quick-strike five-play drive to grab the lead back. A 35-yard kickoff return by Archer set the Pioneers up with field passion on their own 46-yard line and Fink went to work, completing three-straight passes on the drive culminating with a pump-and-go hook-up to Tedesco from 30-yards out for the record tying score and a 10-7 lead with 12:25 on the clock.
The SHU defense forced a punt on Bryant's next possession, helped by a sack from freshman Niko Sierra (Longmeadow, MA), the first of his career. The Pioneers next possession again resulted in seven-points as Archer took over. The junior tailback ripped off a 49-yard rush on first down to the Bryan 24-yard line and then carried it seven-straight times before plowing in from the one-yard line for his first career Pioneer touchdown. Archer covered 73-yards on the drive to put the Pioneers up 17-7 with 4:51 to go before the half.
Croce and the Bulldogs again converted a big fourth-down play on the ensuing drive to find pay dirt and cut the SHU lead back to three points. Croce drove his team down to the Pioneer 31-yard line but threw three-straight incompletions and faced a fourth-and-10 with just over a minute left before half. The sophomore signal caller came up big on fourth down again, stepping up into the pocket to hit Khalel Pritchard in stride over the middle and the senior wideout bolted through the SHU secondary on his way to the end zone for six.
The second half belonged to the SHU defense as the Pioneers kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard, coming up with three more sacks, an interception and forcing a pair of turnovers on downs to secure the win. After Bryant punt to open the third quarter, the Sacred Heart offense went back to work as Fink completed five-of-five on the eight play, 75 yard drive, capped by hitting sophomore Rich Rossi (Moosic, PA) on the right front pylon for his first score of the season and a 24-14 lead with 8:00 to play in the third quarter.
Bryant looked as if they were ready to answer on their ensuing drive, taking the ball down to the SHU 18-yard line before seeing the fall the drive fall apart. An attempt at an end around on first down ended with a 16-yard loss as receiver James Mullane was dropped by defensive end Justin Embler (Cinnaminson, NJ). Croce hit running back Jerell Smith on second down but the senior running back was dropped in the backfield for a four-yard loss by cornerback Seth Hansen (Old Saybrook, CT). Junior defensive tackle Vinny Branchini (Longmeadow, MA) dropped Croce for a six-yard sack on third down, knocking the Bulldogs all the way back to the SHU 44-yard line. A botched snap on the punt attempt gave the Pioneers the ball after punter Tim Miscovich was ruled as throwing an incomplete pass.
The SHU defenders forced a pair of three-and-outs to start the fourth quarter and a pair of turnovers on downs on failed fourth-down attempts to thwart any comeback attempt. Freshman linebacker Brendan Nuessle (Orchard Park, NY) ended the game and the Bulldogs last chance at points coming up with his first career interception on a batted ball as time expired.
As a team, the Pioneers finished with 359 yards of total offense, converting six-of-14 on the third down with 22 first downs. Fink finished the day 19-of-32 for 175 yards and two scores. R-Freshman Jo Jo Jamiel (West Yarmouth, MA) caught a game-high seven passes for 45 yards while Rossi finished with five catches for 44 yards. Archer piled up his 109 yards on 17 carries, averaging 6.4 yards per rush. Friedman chipped in with 75 yards on 18 carries.
Defensively, SHU held Bryant to 293 yards of offense but just two-of-13 on third down conversions. The Pioneers posted nine tackles for losses, four sacks, and had six pass break-ups in the win. Pioneer soccer standout Jesper Fredriksson (Gothenburg, Sweden) handled the kickoff duties for SHU on Saturday and averaged 53.8 yards with a pair of touchbacks.
Senior running back Lindsey Gamble led the Bulldog ground game with 73 yards on just six carries. Croce completed 15-of-30 passes for 181 yards with a touchdown and interception.
Sacred Heart will wrap-up the 2009 season next Saturday, November 14th hosting the Duquesne Dukes on "Senior Day". Kickoff is scheduled for 12:00 pm.