Sept. 4, 2008
Sacred Heart Pioneers (1-0, 0-0 NEC) vs. Bentley Falcons (1-0, 0-0 NE-10)
Game #2 - Saturday, Sept. 6, 2008 - 6:00 pm - Fairfield, Conn. - Campus Field (4,000)
Radio & Video: SacredHeartPioneers.com
Setting the Scene... The Pioneers are looking to make it 2-0 against the likes of the Northeast-10 Conference as they play host to the Bentley Falcons Saturday night. After falling behind 14-0 against Assumption last week, Sacred Heart rattled off 28 unanswered points en route to a 42-21 win over the Greyhounds. The Pioneers rode the legs of senior tailback Evin Jones to the victory as he piled up 171 of his career-high 210 yards along with four scores in the second half to fuel the comeback. The Falcons, picked to finish second in the NE-10 Preseason Poll, had a comeback win in Week 1 as well, posting a 35-22 win over Millersville. Senior quarterback John White threw for 371 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Senior John Studley caught 10 balls for 157 yards and two touchdowns while sophomore Kyle Tuthill had nine grabs for 183 yards and a pair of scores.
The SHU - Bentley Series... Tonight's game is the sixth meeting between the two schools with Bentley winning all five previous meetings in the series during the mid-90's. The Falcons have outscored the Pioneers 149-19 in the five meetings with two shutouts. Bentley posted a 30-0 win over the Pioneers at home in the first-ever meeting in 1993. The two teams hooked-up each of the next four seasons as well. Bentley posted a 32-6 win in 1994, a 16-7 win in 1995, a 26-6 win in 1996 and a 35-0 shutout in their last meeting in 1997.
SHU in the NEC... The Pioneers are in their 11th season of competition in the Northeast Conference. SHU holds a 31-38 record in NEC competition since joining the league in 1998. The Pioneers won their only league championship during the 2001 campaign, finishing a perfect 8-0. SHU finished second to Robert Morris in 2000, going 7-1 in the league. The Pioneers last winning season in conference action was 2002, finishing tied with Stony Brook for second place at 5-2.
Up Next... The Pioneers are off next week and will return to action on Saturday, September 13th when they travel to Iona College.
The Head Coaches... Sacred Heart head coach Paul Gorham (New Hampshire `84) is in his fifth season on the Pioneer sideline. Gorham was named the school's seventh head coach in June of 2004 and owns a 16-27 record in his four year career. Prior to becoming the Pioneer's head coach, Gorham had stops at UMass, Brown, New Haven and his alma mater New Hampshire. Bentley head coach Peter Yetten (Boston U. `71) is in his 30th season on the sidelines for the Falcons amassing an impressive 221-75-2 overall record. Yetten successfully led the Falcon program from club status to Division III to Division II. His efforts in building the Bentley football program were rewarded in October 2000 when he was inducted into the Bentley Athletic Hall of Fame. His varsity winning percentage of .730 is sixth best nationally amongst active Division II coaches with at least 10 seasons coached.
Last Meeting with Bentley... It has been 11 years since the Sacred Heart Pioneers and Bentley Falcons have met on the football field. The last time the two schools hooked-up was on October 25, 1997 with the Falcons pitching a shutout in a 35-0 win. The Bentley defense held SHU to just nine first downs and just three-of-16 on third down. The Pioneers recovered four fumbles on the afternoon and controlled time of possession but couldn't overcome their offensive struggles managing just 191 yards of total offense, 47 through the air. The Falcon duo of quarterback Mike Mason and receiver Mark DeBrito led the Bentley offense, connecting for three scores through the air. DeBrito finished with 13 catches for 202 yards. Running back Matt Rapoza ran for 113 yards and a score for Bentley. SHU's Toby Lauder finished with 99 yards on 24 carries.
Week 1 Highlights... Sacred Heart opened the 2008 season ushering in a new era of Pioneer football under the lights on Campus Field. The newly installed lights and newly renovated Campus Field Sprinturf made a stellar debut in front of 2,113 Pioneer fans last Saturday night as the Pioneers posted a 42-21 win over Assumption College. The 2008 opener was almost identical to the 2007 opener, in score only. SHU posted a 41-20 win at Assumption last season and this year welcome the Greyhounds to Fairfield. Unlike last season's opener that saw SHU fall behind 7-0 before running out to a 41-7 lead, the Pioneers trailed 14-0 for much of the first half, getting a late score before halftime and riding senior running back Evin Jones's big second half en route to the win. Jones rumbled to a career-best 210 yards and four scores to lead the SHU rushing attack. The Pioneers improved to 8-3 in the all-time series with Assumption and are 4-1 in season openers under head coach Paul Gorham. Quarterback Dale Fink completed 23-of-35 passes for 175 yards and a score in the win. Fink put SHU on the board late in the second quarter, hitting fellow sophomore Tony Patterson on a 10-yard scoring strike with eight seconds left. Preseason All-NEC pick Steve Tedesco picked up right where he left off in 2007, making nine catches in the win for 97 yards. Freshman Garry Coles had an impressive debut, returning a kickoff 43 yards to set up a score and bursting his way to a 68-yard score. SHU ran for 279 yards, 249 in the second half, and had 20 first downs, converting nine-of-15 on third down. Defensively, SHU was stout holding the Greyhounds to just 55 yards rushing and just three of 14 on third down. The Pioneers got a pair of interceptions from Rishard Brown and Mike Mortali. Junior kicker Joe Schroeder finished six-of-six on extra points, a career-best mark while senior punter averaged 42.0 yards on five kicks.
Jones and Coles Run Away with NEC Awards... Maybe the biggest question in the off-season for the offense was how to replace the 1,282 rushing yards and 10 touchdowns lost by the graduation of All-NEC runner Jason Payne. SHU took a big step Saturday night in answering that question as senior Evin Jones stepped into the limelight and delivered, running for a career-high 210 yards on 22 carries to earn his first ever NEC Player of the Week award. It was Jones' second 100-yard plush rushing day as his four touchdown night tied for second all-time in a game, one off the record of five set by Ed Pricolo in 2005. Jones wasn't the only Pioneer rusher to garner honors as freshman Garry Coles had an impressive debut ripping of a 68-yard touchdown run as well as setting up a SHU touchdown with a 43-yard kickoff return to open the second half. Jones picked-up NEC Rookie of the Week honors.
Record Breakers... Junior wide receiver Steve Tedesco entered the 2008 season with a chance to set new school records in career receptions, career receiving yards and career touchdown receptions. Tedesco headed into 2008 with 85 career catches and is now 28 away from the mark that Corey Bundy set last season. He amassed 1,092 career yards in two seasons and is now 569 yards behind Bundy's mark, also set last season. His 16 career scoring grabs sits just three away from DeVeren Johnson's mark of 19, a record that has held since 2001.
Corto Makes Bill 53-Man Roster... When the 2008 NFL season kicks-off this weekend, former Sacred Heart standout Jon Corto will be suiting up for his hometown Buffalo Bills after earning a spot on the team's final 53-man roster. Corto, who spent last season on the Bill's practice squad. The Orchard Park, NY native, signed with the Bill's as an undrafted free agent last June after attending the team's rookie minicamp after the draft. During this summer's training camp, Corto began making the transition back to linebacker and earned a spot on the final roster as the Bills kept six linebackers. Corto had a stellar four-year career as a Pioneer, earning All-American honors as well as first-team All-Northeast Conference accolades. He finished his career at SHU as the program's second all-time leading tackler with 300 tackles over four years. He is the first Pioneer in program history to make the final 53-man roster of an NFL team.
Preseason NEC Polling... After completing an undefeated run through its 2007 league schedule, defending Northeast Conference champion Albany finds itself atop the conference's 2008 preseason football coaches' poll. The Great Danes, who are in search of a fourth league crown, garnered five first-place votes in the annual survey of the league head coaches. Attracting two first-place nods, five-time league champion Monmouth finished second in the poll followed by 2007 NEC runner-up Central Connecticut State, and its one first-place vote, in third.
Tedesco a Preseason All-NEC Pick... Sacred Heart junior wide receiver Steve Tedesco was named to the 2008 All-Northeast Conference Preseason team. Tedesco led the league in receptions per game (5.36), while ranking second in receiving yards per game (67.0). Tedesco finished 2007 with a league-high 59 catches for 737 yards and a conference-best 11 touchdown grabs. Tedesco, a first team choice at receiver last season, is also a feared punt returner as evidenced by the 18.2 yards per return he averaged. The junior wideout set a new school record last season for receptions in a season (59) and twice tied the school mark for touchdown catches in a game nabbing three against both Assumption and Saint Francis (PA).
History of Sacred Heart Football... This is the 18th football season at Sacred Heart University. The program is 74-100 (.425) all-time and 54-45 (.545) since joining the Northeast Conference (NEC) and Division I FCS (formerly I-AA) in 1998. The program has had seven head coaches starting with Gary Reho (1991-96) who led the team to a 5-4 record in their inaugural season. Jim Fleming led the Pioneers to a 21-1 mark in his two seasons as head coach (2000-01) including the 11-0 2001 campaign that delivered the university and NEC title. 2001 also saw the Pioneers lone post season appearance, beating Duquesne in the ECAC Bowl, 31-15, laying claim to the Division I-AA Mid-Major National Championship.