Pioneers Drop Season Finale, 41-31, at Robert Morris
Nov. 10, 2007
MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. (October 27, 2007) - Sacred Heart senior running back Jason Payne (Corltandt Manor, NY) ran for 185 yards and a touchdown while catching two others in his final collegiate game but the Pioneers came up short, falling 41-31 at Robert Morris in the season finale for both clubs. The Pioneers end the season 3-8 overall and winless in the Northeast Conference at 0-6.
The win snapped a Colonial five game losing streak as they wrap up their season at 4-6 overall and 3-3 in the NEC. RMU got on the board first at the 6:40 mark of the first quarter when junior quarterback Erik Cwalinski connected with senior split end Alvin Hill for a 44-yard touchdown pass. Sacred Heart responded thanks to the legs of Payne, who helped the Pioneers tie the game, 7-7, with a 15-yard touchdown scamper. Payne carried 10 times for 116 yards in the first quarter and finished the game with a career-high 35 rushing attempts for 185 yards.
SHU took a 10-7 lead when sophomore kicker Joe Schroeder (Jackson, NJ) connected on a 22-yard field goal with 13:30 left to play before halftime, but the Colonials came back to take the lead for good, 14-10, when junior Karey Murray capped a 10-play, 65-yard drive with a one-yard touchdown plunge. The big play of the drive came on third-and-seven from the Pioneer 30-yard line, when Cwalinski hooked up with senior flanker Julian Ellison for a 22-yard completion down to the SHU eight-yard line.
The Colonials extended their lead to 21-10 with 5:47 to play before the half when Cwalinski and Hill hooked up for the second time, this time for a 19-yard touchdown pass. Robert Morris was set up with good position on the drive, as senior Mario Hines returned a Pioneer punt 29 yards to the Sacred Heart 43-yard line. Sacred Heart trimmed its deficit to five at the break, 21-16, as Pioneer freshman signal caller Dale Fink (Swansea, IL) drove the team 54 yards on six plays in just a minute and eight seconds before capping it with a six-yard touchdown pass to Payne. Schroeder missed the extra point, to leave it 21-16.
In the second half Robert Morris took control thanks to its defense, which intercepted Fink three times on the afternoon and finished with a +4 turnover margin on the game. After the Colonial offense went three-and-out on its first possession of the second half, junior defensive lineman Shannon Smoot intercepted Fink at the Pioneer 45-yard line and got a couple of nice blocks to rumble to the end zone untouched for the score, increasing the lead to 28-16. Fink was intercepted again on SHU's next possession, this time by senior linebacker Chad Wengert. Despite not producing any points on the turnover, RMU extended its lead to 34-16 when Cwalinski threw a six-yard touchdown pass to Hines at the 2:19 mark of the third quarter. Cwalinski added an eight-yard touchdown run with 13:55 to play to give the Colonials a comfortable 41-16 advantage in the fourth quarter.
The Pioneers closed out the scoring on the afternoon with a pair of Fink touchdown passes, a 10-yarder to Payne and a 24-yard hook-up with senior wideout Corey Bundy (Selden, NY). Bundy led SHU with six catches for 78 yards, becoming the Pioneers all-time leader in reception yardage. Bundy passed DeVeren Johnson for first place with 1,758 yards over his four years. Bundy is the school's all-time leader in catches as well with 122 career receptions.
Fink finished the game throwing for 231 yards, completing 20 of 36 passes. Defensively, senior Bill Hayden (Milford, PA) finished with seven tackles and a sack in the loss. Junior safety Steve Young (Brooklyn, NY) made eight solo tackles.