Pioneers Play Host to Duquesne in 2009 Season Finale
Nov. 12, 2009
Sacred Heart Pioneers (2-7, 2-5 NEC) vs. Duquesne Dukes (2-7, 1-5 NEC)
Game #10 - Saturday, Nov. 14, 2009 - 12:00 pm - Fairfield, Conn. - Campus Field (4,000)
Setting the Scene... The Sacred Heart Pioneers look to make it two-straight wins Saturday afternoon as they close out the 2009 season playing host to the Duquesne Dukes on "Senior Day". The Pioneers brought home a 24-14 "Homecoming" victory last Saturday over Bryant University to snap a three-game slide. The Dukes are looking snap a four-game losing streak as they come in off their bye having lost 23-17 in overtime to Wagner two weeks ago. Saturday will mark the third-time this season the Pioneers have faced a team coming off a bye week. SHU lost at Wagner, 49-28, and at Robert Morris, 9-7, in the other two match-ups.
The SHU - Duquesne Series... The all-time series is tied at 2-2. Sacred Heart evened the series last fall with a 29-17 win at Duquesne. The Pioneers took the first-ever meeting, a 31-15 win at Duquesne in the 2001 ECAC Bowl, capping a perfect season (11-0). The win clinched the first perfect season in school history and secured the Pioneers the final #1 ranking in both the Sports Network and Don Hansen Gazette I-AA Mid-Major polls. It took five seasons for the two teams to meet again as the Dukes posted a 24-21 win at home in 2006. The Dukes made their first trip to Fairfield in 2007 and came away with a 30-23 overtime win.
SHU in the NEC... The Pioneers are in their 12th season of competition in the Northeast Conference. SHU holds a 37-46 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 2009 season comes to a close.
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 25-37 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. Duquesne head coach Jerry Schmitt (Westminster `83) is in his fifth season at the head of the Dukes program and owns a 25-24 record at the school. Prior to becoming the Dukes head coach, Schmitt spent five season as the head coach at his alma mater Westminster, where he compiled a 42-27 (.609) record. After his playing days ended, Schmitt coached in the high school ranks before taking an assistant coaching position with Duquesne on two separate stints, from 1985-87 and 1992-99.
Last Meeting with the Dukes... Senior running back Evin Jones caught one touchdown pass and ran for two more scores as Sacred Heart overcame a 17-0 first half deficit in a 29-17 win at Duquesne last October 25th. After a pair of early Dale Fink interceptions led to a 17-0 Duke lead, the sophomore quarterback led the Pioneers down the field connecting with Jones on a 19-yard touchdown screen pass to get the comeback started. After a safety cut the Duquesne advantage to 17-9, Fink, who completed 27 of 34 passes for 268 yards, threw a 13-yard touchdown pass to Brian Friedman on a fake field goal late in the second quarter. The Pioneers made it 29 unanswered points with a pair of Jones one-yard TD runs in the third quarter, the second capping a 99-yard drive. Jones rushed for 74 yards on 26 carries and caught three passes for 31 yards. The SHU defense sealed the win, picking up two of their three interceptions in the fourth quarter along with a fumble recovery. After a five-for-five start to the game that included a pair of touchdown throws, Duquesne quarterback Connor Dixon finished the game completing just nine of 24 passes for 107 yards. The Pioneers had 359 yards of total offense and held Duquesne to 171 yards.
Last Time Out... Sacred Heart got 109 yards rushing from junior Marcel Archer and a pair of touchdown passes from junior quarterback Dale Fink while pitching a second half shutout on the way to a 24-14 win over Bryant last Saturday. Pioneer sophomore linebackers Michael Zambarano and Chris Mandas had a game-high 11 tackles and a sack each to lead the defensive charge in snapping a three-game slide. The Pioneers struck first, taking the opening kickoff and marching 71 yards in 13 plays, capped by a freshman Jason Plescow field goal. After a pair of three-and-outs, the Bryant offense found its stride at the end of the first quarter, putting together a seven play drive that ended with a Mike Canfora score from two yards out with 14:22 to go in the second quarter. The Pioneers answered right back with a quick-strike five-play drive as Fink went to work, completing three-straight passes on the drive culminating with a pump-and-go hook-up to Steve Tedesco from 30-yards out for the score and a 10-7 lead. The Pioneers next possession again resulted in seven-points as Archer ripped off a 49-yard rush on the first play and then carried it seven-straight times before plowing in from the one-yard line for a 17-7 lead with 4:51 to go before the half. The Bulldogs faced a fourth-and-10 with just over a minute left before half and quarterback Mike Croce came up with a big play, stepping up into the pocket to hit Khalel Pritchard in stride over the middle for six. The second half belonged to the SHU defense as the Pioneers kept the Bulldogs off the scoreboard, coming up with three sacks, an interception and forcing a pair of turnovers on downs to secure the win. SHU scored the only points of the second half as Fink completed five-of-five on an eight play, 75 yard drive, capped by hitting sophomore Rich Rossi for the score with 8:00 to play in the third quarter. Fink finished the day 19-of-32 for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
Zambarano Named NEC Defensive Player of the Week... Sophomore linebacker Michael Zambarano was named the Northeast Conference Co-Defensive Player of the Week. Zambarano, in his first starting assignment of the season, accounted for a career-high 11 tackles (10 solo), three tackles for loss, and a pass break-up in Sacred Heart's 24-14 NEC win over Bryant. Zambarano made two huge hits on back-to-back plays with SHU clinging to a 17-14 lead in the third quarter. Forcing Bryant to punt on its opening drive of the second half, Zambarano stuffed the Bulldogs' ball carrier for no gain before sacking the quarterback for a 10-yard loss on the next play. Zambarano has 43 tackles on the season, 29 solo.
Archer Named Enterprise Rent-A-Car Student-Athlete of the Week... Junior running back Marcel Archer was named the Enterprise Rent-A-Car / Sacred Heart Student-Athlete of the Week. Archer piled up 109 yards rushing and a touchdown to lead the Pioneers to a 24-14 win over visiting Bryant University on "Homecoming Weekend". Archer recorded his best day in a Sacred Heart uniform this season after transferring in from Central Michigan University, averaging 6.4 yards per rush while scoring his first career points as a Pioneer in the win. Leading 10-7 in the second quarter, the Pioneers went to Archer who ran the ball eight-straight times on a drive that gave the Pioneers the lead for good. The junior tailback ripped off a 49-yard rush on the first play and then carried it seven-straight times before plowing in from the one-yard line for six. Archer covered 73-yards on the drive to put the Pioneers up 17-7 with 4:51 to go before the half. In addition, Archer added 50 return yards on a pair of kick-offs, including a 35-yard return that helped set up a touchdown.
Tedesco Ties Sacred Heart Scoring Mark... Senior Steve Tedesco caught his seventh touchdown in Saturday's win over Bryant, tying the Sacred Heart record for career touchdowns scored with 33. Tedesco is tied with former Pioneer running back Ed Pricolo who racked up 33 career scores out of the SHU backfield from 2002 through 2005. Tedesco will play his final game against Duquesne with a chance to take sole possession of the record. Tedesco already holds the school records for career receptions (217), career receiving yards (2,704), career receiving touchdowns (33), receptions in a season (77 - 2008) and shares the school records for catches in a game (12 vs. Duquesne - 2008) and touchdown catches in a game (3 - 2x). He has climbed his way up the NEC all-time receiving charts as well, ranking third in career catches and fourth in receiving yards. He is eight receptions away from tying Saint Francis' Luke Palko for second place. 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.
Steve Tedesco, the NEC's Top-Receiver... Senior wide receiver Steve Tedesco is again tops among Northeast Conference receivers. The two-time All-NEC wideout leads the conference with 55 catches (6.11 cpg) for 721 yards (80.1 ypg) and seven touchdowns. The senior receiver extended his streak to six-straight games with a touchdown catch in last Saturday's win over Bryant, the longest streak of his four-year career (Five-straight twice 2006 & 2008. Tedesco has three 100-yard receiving games this season and a pair of 11 catch games as well. He pulled down 11 balls for a season-high 168 yards and a score against Monmouth and also caught 11 passes earlier this season at Holy Cross.
LB Chris Mandas Stout in the Middle... Sophomore inside linebacker Chris Mandas continued to rack up tackles, posting double digit stops in back-to-back weeks. Mandas matched fellow inside linebacker Mike Zambarano's 11 tackles in last Saturday's win over Bryant while adding three pass break-ups and a half sack to his game totals as well. Mandas posted a career-best 15 tackles in the Pioneers 9-7 loss at Robert Morris, the highest total by a Pioneer this season. Mandas is leading the team in tackles with 78 stops on the season, ranking seventh among league leaders (8.7 per game).
SHU Soccer Star Handles Kickoff Duties... After seeing his soccer season end last Friday night with a 2-0 loss to Fairleigh Dickinson, senior Jesper Fredriksson suited up for the Pioneers last Saturday afternoon and handled the kickoff duties. Fredriksson handled all five kickoffs in the game, totaling 269 yards, a 53.8 per kick average with a pair of touchbacks. In his four years on the soccer pitch, Fredriksson totaled 14 goals, five assists and 33 points.
Archer Fills In Nicely... Junior running back Marcel Archer stepped in for an injured Garry Coles and delivered his first 100-yard rushing effort in a Pioneer uniform. Archer, who has been in and out of the lineup all season with injuries, carried the ball 17 times for 109 yards, a 6.4 per carry average. xxxxx