A Look Back - 10th Anniversary of Sacred Heart Football's 11-0 Season

Senior QB J.J. Holtfreter
Senior QB J.J. Holtfreter


Week 3 - Sacred Heart at Robert Morris - September 22, 2001

Final Stats - SHU 44 - RMU 31

     The 2011 season marks the 10th anniversary of the Pioneers perfect 11-0 season that resulted in a Northeast Conference Championship and the NCAA Division I-AA Mid-Major National Championship.  In every Game Day Program and on SacredHeartPioneers.com, we will recap the Pioneers historical run through the 2001 season, going through the 10-year anniversary game-by-game.

   After the events of September 11th, the 2001 Sacred Heart Pioneers had a two-week lay-off before they would travel out to Moon Township, PA for a crack at the only team to beat them in 2000, the Robert Morris Colonials.  Under second-year head coach Jim Fleming, the Pioneers had a win over Central Connecticut under their belts while the defending champion Colonials had lost to Buffalo State and Dayton in their first two games that season.

     The Pioneers fell behind 10-3 in the first quarter but blew the game open in the second quarter throwing 28 points on the scoreboard.  Senior wide receiver DeVeren Johnson hauled in a pair of touchdown passes from senior quarterback J.J. Holtfreter in the quarter.  Johnson corralled a 52-yard pass from Holtfreter to open the second quarter and then the two-hooked-up on a 75-yard score with just under two minute left in the half.

     In between the Pioneers scored on defense and on special teams.  Junior linebacker Kayode Mawoa took an interception back 24-yards to the house and Owen Ritzie recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for six.  "It was an explosion," stated Associate Head Coach Mark Nofri.  "The game turned in all facets, offense, defense and speical teams."

"I remember going in at halftime and its 31-10 and it just snowballed from there.  We kept gaining confidence and momentum."

Senior WR DeVeren Johnson

The Colonials would cut the lead to 31-24 but the Pioneers would answer with a seven-yard rushing score from senior running back Marvin Royal, capping a 10-play drive.  Johnson closed out the scoring with his third scoring catch on the day solidifying the win.  SHU racked up 506 yards of total offense, enjoying the long eight-hour bus ride home with a win.

"We knew we were on top of them," stated Nofri.  "After what had happened the year before, once we got up on them we knew we wouldn't let it slip away."

The win would go on to help spring board the Pioneers magical season they enjoyed.

"From that point on, we knew we could play with anyone in the league.  If we stay focused and played to the best of our ability, we would be the team to beat in the NEC."

Next Week - The Pioneers took down St. John's in their 2001 Home Opener on Campus Field