Nov. 12, 2008
Sacred Heart Pioneers (8-2, 4-2 NEC) vs. Central CT State Blue Devils (6-4, 3-3 NEC)
Game #11- Saturday, November 15, 2008 - 1:00 pm - Fairfield, Conn. - Campus Field (4,000)
Radio: Pioneer Radio Network - WICC 600 AM, ESPN Radio WPUT 1510 AM, WINE 940 AM, SacredHeartPioneers.com
Setting the Scene... The Sacred Heart Pioneers will host the Central Connecticut Blue Devils on "Senior Day" in the 2008 season finale. The Pioneers have already clinched their first winning season since head coach Paul Gorham's inaugural 6-4 season in 2004 and can wrap up sole possession of third place in the Northeast Conference standings with a win over CCSU. In order to come away with a win Saturday afternoon the Pioneers will need to rebound from their poorest offense outing of the season in a 19-7 loss at Monmouth. SHU was held to a season-low seven points and 183 yards of total offense in the loss. Central Connecticut comes to Fairfield fresh off a 36-0 shutout win over Saint Francis (PA). The Blue Devils went a perfect 5-0 at home on the year and can pull even with SHU in the NEC standings with a win.
The SHU - CCSU Series... The Central Connecticut State Blue Devils lead the all-time series, 6-4. The Blue Devils are riding a four-game winning streak in the series heading into Saturday'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 Blue Devils posted a 27-6 win at home in 2004 a pair of wins in Fairfield, winning 24-17 (2005) and 42-14 (2006) and last season in New Britain, 49-33. The Pioneers are 2-3 at home against CCSU and 2-3 on the road.
SHU in the NEC... The Pioneers are in their 11th season of competition in the Northeast Conference. SHU holds a 35-40 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 2008 season comes to an end.
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. Central Connecticut head coach Jeff McInerney (Slippery Rock `88) became the program's 12th head coach and is in his third season at the head of the Blue Devil football program. He owns a 20-12 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 CCSU... Sacred Heart senior running back Jason Payne rushed for 207 yards and a pair of touchdowns but the Central Connecticut offense proved to much to handle as the Blue Devils rang up a 49-33 win last November at home. CCSU ran for 277 yards as a team, converting 10-of-13 on third down and scoring on their first four possessions. Fink completed 25 of 47 passes for 222 yards and three touchdowns in the loss. Fink hooked-up with Steve Tedesco for a pair of scores and hit his tight end Chris Rapp for his first career touchdown. CCSU's Jo Jo Freeman rushed for 66 yards on 18 carries and scored twice. Central was a perfect 12-for-12 passing on the day, with Ryan Holmes completing nine for 141 yards and two scores while Aubrey Norris was 3-for-3 for 48 yards and a touchdown.
Last Time Out... Monmouth running back David Sinisi scored two second half touchdowns to become the Northeast Conference's all-time leading scorer leading the Hawks to a 19-7 win over visiting Sacred Heart last week. The Pioneers led 7-6 at the half but managed just two first downs in the second half as they were held to a season-low 183 yards of total offense. The Pioneers kept Sinisi in check for much of the day, holding him to just 87 yards rushing on the day. His two second half scores capped a pair of scoring drives that ate up just over a combined 13 minutes of play in the third and fourth quarters. Monmouth held the ball for 36:39 in the win and finished the day with 307 yards of total offense and got 227 through the air thanks to the arm of Brett Burke who completed 20-of-25 passes. SHU running back Evin Jones was held to a season-low 26 yards rushing on just 10 carries. Quarterback Dale Fink completed 19-of-33 on the day for 150 yards and a score, the lone touchdown of the day. Last Saturday's loss marked the first time this season SHU has been held to under 21 points in a game as well as the first time they have gone without a takeaway on defense, losing the turnover battle for the second-straight week. The second half was all Monmouth as the Hawk defense forced a trio of three and outs as the Pioneers went 0-for-four on third down and managed just 41 yards of total offense. Monmouth held the ball for 22:27 in the second half to just 7:33 for the Pioneer offense.
"Senior Day"... The Pioneers will recognize the 2008 Senior Class of offensive lineman Ryan Arroyo, cornerback Rishard Brown, linebacker Andrew Clayton, running back Jonathan Gibbons, safety Jeff Hodges, cornerback Andre Isla, running back Evin Jones, cornerback Craig Lawson, punter Derek Marks, linebacker Rich Marrone, fullback Tom Mele, linebacker Anthony Mortali, offensive lineman Aaron Thomae and safety Steve Young, along with their parents, in a ceremony before today's game.
Steve Tedesco Named CoSIDA ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District... Sacred Heart junior Steve Tedesco (Mission Viejo, CA) was named to the CoSIDA ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District football team announced last week. Tedesco earned District 1 honors for the second-straight season. Tedesco, a junior wide receiver for the Pioneers, is a History major with a 3.38 gpa. He has helped lead Sacred Heart to an 8-2 overall record and a 4-2 mark in the Northeast Conference this season. Tedesco is one of eight student-athletes from the NEC to earn Academic All-District honors. He will now move onto the national ballot for Academic All-America honors.
Pioneer Offense Looking to Rebound... The Sacred Heart Pioneers employ the NEC's top-scoring offense at 30.6 points per game but are coming off the lowest output of the season scoring just seven points while amassing just 183 yards of total offense, 33 on the ground, losing just their second game of the season at Monmouth. Heading into the match-up with the Hawks, SHU had scored at least 21 points in each of its games and four times hit the 40-point mark. Sacred Heart's offense is averaging a league high 350.4 total yards per game, 211.1 through the air. SHU continues to shine in the red-zone, scoring on 34 of their 39 trips (87.2%) with 32 touchdowns. SHU is second in the NEC and third in the NCAA on third down, converting 50.4% and is the top-team on fourth down, converting 64.3% (9-14).