Nov. 7, 2008
Sacred Heart Pioneers (8-1, 4-1 NEC) vs. Monmouth Hawks (5-4, 4-1 NEC)
Game #10 - Saturday, November 8, 2008 - 1:00 pm - W. Long Branch, N.J. - Kessler Field (4,600)
Radio: WICC 600 AM, SacredHeartPioneers.com
Setting the Scene... The Sacred Heart Pioneers take their 8-1 record on the road this weekend as they take on the Monmouth Hawks. The Pioneers and Hawks both sport 4-1 Northeast Conference marks, tied for second place behind unbeaten defending champion Albany (5-0) in first. SHU is looking to snap a five-game slide in the all-time series with Monmouth. The Pioneers head to the Jersey Shore fresh off a 49-20 win over Wagner at home on Halloween night. Senior running back Evin Jones hit the 1,000 yard mark for the season thanks to a 170 yard night including his team leading 13th touchdown. Quarterback Dale Fink tied the school record for touchdown throws in a game by tossing four scoring strikes in the win. The Hawks are looking to rebound after seeing a 14-0 halftime lead over Albany disappear in a 35-17 loss to the Great Danes.
The SHU - Monmouth Series... The Hawks lead the all-time series, 9-4. Monmouth has won five-straight meetings after a 49-8 win in Fairfield last season. The Hawks are 6-1 against the Pioneers at Campus Field all-time. SHU took the first-ever meeting, 12-0, during the 1993 season on the road. From there, Monmouth won four in a row starting in 1994 and then picking up again in 1997 when the Pioneers entered the NEC. Sacred Heart won the meetings in 2000 (13-7), 2001 (44-14) and 2002 (32-14). Monmouth's most lopsided win came in 1998, a 57-7 win at home and the Hawks have posted two shutouts in the series in 1997 (43-0) and 2006 (24-0). SHU's biggest win came during their 2001 championship season, a 44-14 win at home that clinched the league title.
SHU in the NEC... The Pioneers are in their 11th season of competition in the Northeast Conference. SHU holds a 35-39 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... Sacred Heart returns home for the season finale as they play host to instate rival Central Connecticut State University. Kickoff is at 1:00 pm.
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 23-28 record in his five year career. Prior to becoming the Pioneer's head coach, Gorham had stops at UMass, Brown, New Haven and his alma mater New Hampshire. Monmouth head coach Kevin Callahan (Rochester `77) is in his 16th season at the head of the Hawk football program and owns an 94-66 record at the school and overall. Callahan has led the Hawks to five Northeast Conference titles and the 2004 I-AA Mid-Major National Championship. Prior to taking over at Monmouth, Callahan had stops as an assistant at Colgate, Wagner, Syracuse and Albany.
Last Meeting with Monmouth... Sacred Heart senior running back Jason Payne ran for 123 yards on 10 carries but the Monmouth Hawks rang up 593 yards of total offense en route to a 49-8 win last fall. MU's David Sinisi rumbled his way to 200 yards on the ground, scoring three touchdowns to lead the Hawks and hand the Pioneers their fourth-straight loss. Monmouth scored on their first four possessions and five of the six times the touched the ball in the first half. The Hawks finished with 331 yards rushing led by Sinisi's 200 and 119 yards on 16 carries from Bobby Giles. Through the air, the Hawks had 262 yards passing. Quarterback Brett Burke threw for 241 and two scores, completing 15-of-19. SHU finished with 274 yards of total offense, just 85 through the air, while converting just three of 13 on third down. Senior safety John Wilson led the team in tackles for the third-straight game making 15 stops (7 solo/8 assists).
Last Time Out... Sacred Heart senior running back Evin Jones rumbled his way to 170 yards and a touchdown as the Pioneers improved to 8-1 on the year with a 42-20 win over Wagner on Halloween night. SHU quarterback Dale Fink completed 19-of-31 passes for four touchdowns in the win. For the first time this season the Pioneers came up short in the turnover battle, turning it over three times on a pair of Fink interceptions and a fumble, but Wagner's one miscue was the difference maker in a Sacred Heart victory. Trailing 28-20, Wagner quarterback Adam Farnsworth scrambled looking to make a play down field but missed his target, seeing his errant pass falling into the hands of Pioneer senior corner Rishard Brown who returned it 51-yards for six and SHU never looked back. The Pioneers, who held the advantage in time of possession (31:01) converted a remarkable 12 of 14 on third down and scored touchdowns on all five of their red zone possessions. SHU held a slight edge in total yards, out gaining Wagner 303 to 299.
Sacred Heart Getting Offensive... The Sacred Heart Pioneers employ the NEC's top-scoring offense at 33.2 points per game. SHU has scored at least 21 points in each of its games this season and has four times hit the 40-point mark. Sacred Heart's offense is averaging a league high 369.0 total yards per game, 217.9 through the air. SHU continues to shine in the red-zone, scoring on 33 of their 37 trips (89.2%) with 31 touchdowns. SHU is second in the NEC and third in the NCAA on third down, converting 51.8% and is the top-team on fourth down, converting 66.7% (8-12).
Evin Jones Breaks 1,000 Yards in 2008... Running back Evin Jones is coming off his fifth game this season breaking the 100-yard mark, with a 200-yard game on his stat ledger as well, becoming the sixth player in school history to rush for a 1,000 yards in a season. Jones has 1,102 yards on 210 carries, an average of 5.2 yards per carry. Jones is fifth in the NEC and ninth in the nation in rushing at 122.4 yards per game. Jones has shown he has nose for the getting in the end zone with a team-high 13 touchdowns on the year, 12 rushing and one receiving. His 76 points on the year is second in the NEC only to Monmouth's back David Sinisi's 17 scores. Jones carried the ball a career-high 33 times in the win over Robert Morris finishing with 187 yards, an effort second only to his 210 yard night against Assumption in the opener as a career bench mark. His season-opening performance against Assumption earned him NEC Offensive Player of the Week honors. He has twice earned the Enterprise Rent-A-Car / SHU Student-Athlete of the Week award this season.