Pioneers Back on the Road at Central Connecticut This Saturday
Oct. 1, 2009
Sacred Heart Pioneers (0-3, 0-1 NEC) vs. Central CT State Blue Devils (2-1, 0-0 NEC)
Game #4 - Saturday, Oct. 3, 2009 - 12:00 pm - New Britan, Conn. - Arute Field (3,000)
TV: MSG-Plus, Fox College Sports
Setting the Scene... The Sacred Heart Pioneers close out a three-game road swing heading up state Saturday afternoon to face Northeast Conference rival Central Connecticut State. The Pioneers are looking to snap a three-game losing streak and pick-up their first win of the season before returning home to Campus Field next weekend. SHU is coming off a 22-9 loss at Albany a week ago in their NEC opener. The Blue Devils are 2-1 on the season with non-conference wins over Bucknell, 28-21, and last week over Columbia, 22-13. CCSU hosts the Pioneers in their home opener which will also sever as their league opener. Today's game is being broadcast live on MSG-Plus.
The SHU - CCSU Series... The Central Connecticut State Blue Devils lead the all-time series, 7-4. The Blue Devils are riding a five-game winning streak in the series after a 49-14 win in Fairfield in last year's season finale. Central won the first ever meeting in 1998, 38-31 at home and followed that with a 37-12 win at SHU in 1999. The Pioneers then ripped off four-straight in the series from 2000 to 2003. The current streak has the Blue Devils outscoring the Pioneers, 191-84 in the five games. The Pioneers are 2-4 at home against CCSU and 2-3 on the road.
SHU in the NEC... The Pioneers are in their 12th season of competition in the Northeast Conference. SHU holds a 35-42 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... Sacred Heart will return home to Campus Field for the first time in a month when they play host to Saint Francis (PA) next Saturday afternoon. Kickoff is slated for 12:00 noon.
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 23-33 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. Central Connecticut State head coach Jeff McInerney (Slippery Rock `88) became the program's 12th head coach and is in his fourth season at the head of the Blue Devil football program. He owns a 23-13 career record and led CCSU to a 8-3 mark in 2007 and the program's first-ever national ranking in his first season on the sidelines. He has had assistant coaching stops at Rhode Island, Tulsa, UNLV, Oregon State, Georgia Southern and Southern California.
Last Meeting with the Blue Devils... James Mallory ran for 150 yards and two touchdowns, part of a 337-yard ground attack by Central Connecticut State, as the Blue Devils ran past Sacred Heart 49-14 in the 2008 season finale. Central Connecticut took advantage of five Pioneer turnovers and a blocked punt and also knocked out SHU starting quarterback Dale Fink in the first quarter with a shoulder injury. Forced to punt on the opening drive, senior Derek Marks had his punt blocked by London Lomax and the Blue Devils recovered on the Pioneer 10-yard line. Just four plays later, Josh Vargas ran it in from one yard out for a 7-0 CCSU lead and put the Blue Devils on the track to scoring the game's first 42 points. R-Freshman quarterback Ray Sheehan came on in relief of Fink and finished 19 of 34 passes for 214 yards with a couple of scores, but did throw three interceptions. The Pioneers got on the board in the fourth quarter as wideout Mark Uyeno caught his first career touchdown pass, a 13-yarder from Sheehan, with 10:06 left in the game to break up the shutout. SHU's Steve Tedesco caught his 10th touchdown of the season, a 23-yard strike, for the other Pioneer score. He finished the game with seven catches for 101 yards.
Last Time Out... The University at Albany used three first half Sacred Heart turnovers and a 105 yard rushing effort from senior David McCarty on the way to a 22-9 win over the visiting Pioneers in the Northeast Conference opener for both teams last Saturday. The Pioneer offense was held to three sophomore Matt Fisher field goals in the loss. Despite three turnovers in the first two quarters, the Pioneer defense was able to hold the Great Danes to just nine points off those miscues. Albany had four-straight possessions in the first half open in Sacred Heart territory and came away with six just once. Fink guided the team on a 16-play drive that covered 68 yards ending in the first of Fisher's field goals but his second pick on SHU's next drive resulted in head coach Paul Gorham turning to back-up Tyler McKeon. The r-sophomore quarterback, seeing his first action in nearly two-years, directed a pair of long scoring drives in the second half but each coming up short of punching it in. Down 16-6 in the fourth quarter, the Pioneers were set-up first and goal inside the one-yard line but failed to convert having to settle once again for just three. From there, McCarty and the Great Dane offense put the game away with a nine-play drive that covered 57 yards and ended with the senior tailback plunging in from four-yards out for a 22-9 lead. McCarty ran the ball seven times on the drive on his way to a 100-yard afternoon. McKeon finished the day eight-of-16 for 118 yards while Coles was the Pioneers leading rusher and receiver with 47 yards on nine carries and seven catches for 48 more. Sophomore linebacker Chris Mandas led all players with 11 tackles.
Tedesco Once Again Leading the NEC in Receiving... Senior wide receiver Steve Tedesco is atop the NEC receiving rankings, a spot he has grown accustomed to over his career. Tedesco leads the league averaging 7.00 catches per game. He has hauled in 21 balls this season for 233 yards and a score. Tedesco leads a group of receivers that has the Pioneer passing attack at the top of the NEC rankings. SHU leads the NEC averaging 235.0 yards passing per game.
Too Many Turnovers... Through the first three games in 2009, the Pioneers rank last in the NEC in turnover margin at -4. Quarterback Dale Fink has thrown six interceptions this season, two for touchdowns. Running back Garry Coles has lost a pair of fumbles on the year. Last season, the Pioneers finished the year +1 in turnover margin.
Offensive Struggles... The Pioneer offensive attack has struggled out of the gates in 2009. After averaging 29.1 points per game last season and 26.6 points in 2007, SHU is posting just 14.0 per outing through three games this season. The Pioneers are coming off their first game since the 2006 season being held without a touchdown (24-0 L at Monmouth) after settling for three field goals in a 22-0 loss at Albany. SHU ranks last in the NEC in scoring (14.0) and eighth in rushing (81.7 ypg)
Fisher Gets His Kicks... Sophomore place kicker Matt Fisher hit his first career field goal in last week's loss at Albany and tacked on two more to produce all the scoring for the Pioneers. Fisher hit from 28, 21 and 23 yards, one shy of the school record for field goals in a game. Fisher is tied for the team lead in scoring with 12 points. He is three-of-four on extra point attempts this season.
No Flags Down... The Sacred Heart Pioneers have been the least penalized team in the NEC through three games this season. SHU has been flagged just 15 times on the season and enters their match-up with Central Connecticut averaging just 29.7 yards in penalties per game.
Gary Coles an All-Purpose Kind of Guy... Sophomore running back Garry Coles leads the NEC rankings in all-purpose yards averaging 157.7 yards per game. Coles has piled up a league best 224 kick return yards to go with 145 on the ground and 88 through the air. He is the Pioneers leading rusher on the year and is second on the team in receiving with 13 catches.
LB Chris Mandas Leading the D... Sophomore inside linebacker Chris Mandas has stepped into a starting role in 2009 and is taking full advantage leading the team in tackles. Mandas has 26 tackles on the season, ranking ninth among league leaders (8.7 per game).
Brian Flumere, SHU's Defensive Playmaker... Junior outside linebacker Brian Flumere continues to be the Pioneer's top-defensive playmaker this season. Returning as SHU's top-tackler from last season with 74 stops, he was second in the NEC with 13.5 tackles for a loss last year. Through the first three games, Flumere has 21 tackles, a sack, an interception and a force fumble to his credit.
Searching for their Running Game... The Pioneers come into Saturday's match-up next to last in the league in rushing averaging just 81.7 yards per game and 3.0 yards per carry on the year. Sophomore Garry Coles is the Pioneers leading rusher with 145 yards on 35 carries on the year. Junior transfer Marcel Archer has yet to establish himself as part of the rotation as he continues to battle back from a preseason injury. The Pioneers entered the season needing to replace a 1,000 yard rusher for the second-consecutive season. (1,174, Evin Jones - 2008 & 1,282, Jason Payne - 2007).
Tyler McKeon Sees Action... R-Sophomore quarterback Tyler McKeon saw his first action under center in nearly two years, coming in relief of Dale Fink last week at Albany. McKeon finished the game eight-of-16 for 118 yards while leading the Pioneer offense on a pair of 12-play scoring drive that resulted in touchdowns. McKeon redshirted last season but saw action in seven games as a freshman in 2007. He completed 49-fo-85 passes for 464 yards with four interceptions as a rookie.
Special Teams Speedsters... The Pioneers feature two of the top kickoff return specialist in the NEC in sophomore Garry Coles and freshman Brett Swider. Coles is leading the league averaging 32.0 yards per return with a 99-yard return for a touchdown on his ledger through three games. Swider ranks fifth in the conference averaging 23.7 yards per return this season.
Coles Earning His Preseason Nod... Sophomore Garry Coles made a big impact on special teams last season that earned him 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 against 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... R-Junior quarterback Dale Fink added three more records to his already impressive resume this season. Fink opened the season completing 30 passes in back-to-back weeks against Marist and Holy Cross, tying his career-high and the school record for completions in a game (Tyler Arciaga - 30 vs. Stony Brook 10/21/06). His 53 attempts at Holy Cross set a school record. He previously shared the mark with former Pioneer Tyler Arciaga at 47. Heading into this season, Fink needed just 18 completions to set the new school career completions mark, a record he now holds at 447 and counting. He needs 51 yards passing to become the school's all-time passing yardage leader (4,470-Arciaga `05-'06). He is just two 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 Among NEC's All-Time Greats... Sacred Heart senior receiver Steve Tedesco has moved onto the Northeast Conference's all-time top-10 receiving yards list through three games this season. Tedesco who has 2,216 career yards, moving him into seventh place in NEC annals. His 183 career receptions rank him 5th 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 the 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 27th 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 (183), career yards (2,216) and career receiving touchdowns (27) as well.
SHU's Uyeno Nominated for Community Service Award... Sacred Heart junior wide receiver Mark Uyeno has been nominated for the 2009 Allstate / AFCA Good Works Team® for his community service work. For a second consecutive year, Allstate Insurance Company has partnered with the American Football Coaches Association (AFCA) to announce the list of a record 106 student-athletes nominated, which honors college football players who make outstanding contributions in the areas of volunteerism and civic involvement. Uyeno's resume offers several examples of the positive impact he has had on his community. For example, he's a member of the non-profit Sun Shine Kids Organization - children whose parents have been affected by a life threatening disease come to campus each week to do homework, hang out with a college student and eat dinner. Uyeno has played a tremendous role in helping one 10-year-old develop confidence and come out of his shell. At the 2009 Sacred Heart All-Sports and Senior Banquet, Uyeno received the Coca-Cola Community All-American Award. The total of 106 nominations submitted by sports information directors across the country on behalf of their teams surpasses all previous single-season nominee totals in the 18-year history of the award. The 2009 class of nominees represents 41 states, including Washington, D.C., and 45 college athletic conferences.