Pioneers Head to Defending NEC Champ Albany
Sept. 24, 2009
Sacred Heart Pioneers (0-2, 0-0 NEC) vs. Albany Great Danes (1-2, 0-0 NEC)
Game #3 - Saturday, Sept. 26, 2009 - 4:00 pm - Albany, N.Y. - University Field (5,000)
Setting the Scene... The Sacred Heart Pioneers return to the field after a week off as they head to the University at Albany to open the 2009 Northeast Conference schedule Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers are off to a 0-2 start as they look to break into the win column facing the two-time defending NEC Champion Great Danes. SHU is coming off a 52-21 loss at #25 ranked Holy Cross two weeks ago while Albany is fresh off a 20-16 win over #20 ranked Maine last week at home. The Great Danes were voted as the preseason NEC favorite after claiming the 2007 and 2008 titles. They enter Saturday's match-up riding a 13-game NEC winning streak.
The SHU - Holy Cross Series... The University at Albany leads the all-time series, 9-2. The Great Danes have won seven-straight in the series dating back to the 2002 season. UAlbany won the first two-meetings, both shutouts, in 1997 (42-0) and 1999 (41-0). Sacred Heart's two wins came during the 2000 and 2001 season. The Pioneers posted a 34-28 win in overtime at home in 2000 and scored a 32-17 win on the road during their perfect 11-0 2001 season. The Pioneers are 1-4 against the Great Danes at home and 1-5 in Albany.
SHU in the NEC... The Pioneers are in their 12th season of competition in the Northeast Conference. SHU holds a 35-41 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 are coming off their first winning season in conference action since 2002 after posting a 4-3 mark to finish tied for third.
Up Next... The Pioneers are back in action next weekend as the close out a three-game road swing at Central Connecticut State. Next Saturday's game will be broadcast live on MSG Plus and Fox College Sports.
The Head Coaches... Sacred Heart head coach Paul Gorham (New Hampshire `84) is in his sixth season on the Pioneer sideline. Gorham was named the school's seventh head coach in June of 2004 and owns a 23-32 record in his six year career. Prior to becoming the Pioneer's head coach, Gorham had stops at UMass, Brown, New Haven and his alma mater New Hampshire. Albany head coach Bob Ford (Springfield `59) is in his 37th season at the head of the Great Dane football program. Ford, who has been UAlbany's only head coach since the program was reinstated after a 46-year absence, was appointed on April 27, 1970. Since then, he has compiled a 35-year varsity record of 226-145 as the Great Dane mentor, while his 235 career victories ranks second among active NCAA FCS head coaches.
Last Meeting with Albany... Sacred Heart dropped their sixth-straight meeting with the UAlbany Great Danes, 26-21 on October 18, 2008 on Campus Field. The loss ended a six-game winning streak that opened the 2008. The Pioneers gave up 504 yards of total offense in the loss, 320 on the ground, while giving up scoring drives that covered 85, 80, 80, 75, and 80 yards on the day. The Pioneers held a 14-10 lead late in the second quarter thanks to touchdowns by Evin Jones and freshman Jared Kemp and looked like they would extend the lead. The Pioneers appeared to come up with the play of the day on the Albany's first play from scrimmage following Kemp's score. Vinny Esposito's pass over the middle slipped through his receiver's hands and into the arms of SHU linebacker Rich Marrone at the 25-yard line. Marrone headed for the left pylon and the score but just before he could dive for the end zone Great Dane wide receiver Tim Bush chopped the ball out of his hands from behind, forcing a fumble that went across the goal line and out of bounds resulting in a touchback. The third quarter was all Albany as the Great Danes ran 29 plays to SHU's five and held the ball for over 11 and a half minutes to take control of the game. Quarterback Dale Fink threw for 247 yards, completing 25 of 34 passes for two touchdowns and an interception in the loss. Wide Receiver Steve Tedesco had his first 100-yard receiving day of the season, hauling in eight balls for 101 yards and a touchdown.
Last Time Out... Sacred Heart sophomore Garry Coles set a new school record with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown but the Pioneers were dealt a 52-21 loss at the College of Holy Cross two weeks ago. Coles finished the day with 262 all-purpose yards in the loss as SHU falls to 0-2 to start the year. Sacred Heart senior wide receiver Steve Tedesco tied his own school record by hauling in 11 catches for 100 yards and a score in the loss. The Crusaders took the opening kickoff and wasted little time in taking control with 28-straight points before Coles' 99-yard jaunt. HC quarterback Dominic Randolph engineered scoring drives on his team's first three-possessions, running in the first two touchdowns on the afternoon from a yard and nine yards out, respectively. After Eddie Houghton made it 28-0 Holy Cross at the eight minute mark of the second quarter, Coles made lightening strike, bursting up the right sideline on his way to a 99-yard return, running his way into the Pioneer record book. SHU quarterback Dale Fink completed 30 passes for the second-straight week going 30-for-53 for 272 yards, a score and two picks. Fink found his rhythm and put together a 13-yard drive that was capped by Coles who plunged in from a yard out to make it 28-14 with 1:58 left before the half. On the day, Coles ran for 82 yards on 15 carries (5.5 ypr) and also caught three balls for 28 yards, including a 19-yard diving effort on the right sideline to set up his own score.
Coles Earning His Preseason Nod... Sophomore Garry Coles made a big impact on special teams last season that he earned All-NEC honors as a kick return specialist. Heading into this season, Coles was tabbed as the league's preseason all-conference returner and it took just two games for the sophomore speedster to prove his worth. Coles set a new school record with a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in Saturday's 52-21 loss at the College of Holy Cross. Coles finished the day with 262 all-purpose yards. His 99-yard jaunt is the longest return in school history. The play was the second longest scoring play in SHU history, falling just one yard short of a 100-yard interception return by Bill Johnston against Assumption on October 16, 1993.
Fink Still Setting Records... After setting a pair of school records in the season opener against Maris, quarterback Dale Fink added another mark to his already impressive resume in the loss to Holy Cross. For the second-straight game, Fink completed 30 passes, going 30-for-53 for 272 yards and a score against the Crusaders. His 53 attempts set a school record. He previously shared the previous mark with former Pioneer Tyler Arciaga at 47. His 30 completions tied his career-high and again tied the school record for completions in a game (Tyler Arciaga - 30 vs. Stony Brook 10/21/06). Heading into this season, Fink needed just 18 completions to set the new school career completions mark, a record he now holds at 435 and counting. Fink now holds the school records for career touchdown throws (49). He needs 129 yards passing to become the school's all-time passing yardage leader (4,470-Arciaga `05-'06). He is 18 passing attempts away from eclipsing the career mark in that category as well (689-Arciaga `05-'06). Fink already holds the school marks for career touchdown throws (49), touchdowns in a game (4 - 2x), completions in a season (215 - 2008) and completion percentage in a season (.678 - 2008).
Tedesco Cracks Another Top 10... Sacred Heart senior receiver Steve Tedesco has moved onto the Northeast Conference's all-time top-10 receiving yards list through two games this season. Tedesco who has 2,161 career yards, moving him into 7th place in NEC annals. His 179 career receptions rank him 6th all-time in the NEC. Saint Francis (PA)'s Michael Caputo (2003-06) holds the all-time marks in both categories with 245 career receptions and 3,464 career yards.
Senior WR Re-Writing Record Book... Steve Tedesco fell one reception shy of tying the school record of 12 catches in a game by hauling in 11 balls for 100 yards and a score in the loss at Holy Cross. Tedesco already shares the mark of 12 catches in a game with former Pioneer Doug Geoffrey (12 vs. Stony Brook - 2000) dating back to last season's 12 catch effort in a win at Duquesne last season. The senior wide out also inched closer to the SHU record for career touchdowns as he nabbed his 27 career score. Tedesco is now one behind Marvin Royal (2000-01) and six away from tying Ed Pricolo (2002-05) for the all-time mark. A two-time all-NEC first team selection, Tedesco owns SHU records for career receptions (179), career yards (2,161) and career receiving touchdowns (27) as well.