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

Sr. RB Brendan Graham
Sr. RB Brendan Graham


Week 4 - Sacred Heart at Siena College - September 29, 2001

Final Stats - SHU 34 - Siena 0

     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.

    Riding high of their 44-31 win at defending NEC Champion Robert Morris, the Sacred Heart Pioneers would return home to Fairfield to prepare for their first non-league test.  The Pioneers took to the road for the third time in the month of September to face the Siena College Saints of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference (MAAC). 

     Defense would be the word of the day on September 29th as the Pioneers dominated the Saints and pitched their first of two shutouts in 2001, 34-0 at Heritage Park.  SHU forced four turnovers, scored a touchdown and smothered Siena to the tune of just 24 total yards on 53 offensive plays (0.5 yards per play).  The Saints would rush for negative yardage, -32 yards on 31 carries, and were sacked three times in the loss.

     The SHU offense hit on all cylinders to the tune of 436 total yards led by senior quarterback J.J. Holtfreter who thre for 321 yards and two scores.  Holtfreter hit Mike Luberti for a 15-yard score and hooked-up with Marlon Ward on a 58-yard pitch-and-catch for six.  Senior running back Marvin Royal ran for 71 yards and a touchdown while backfield mate Brandon Graham had a score as well.

     Senior All-American linebacker Kayode Mayowa scored for the second-straight game, returing a pick 25-yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to finish out the scoring.  

Week 5 - Sacred Heart vs. St. John's - October 6, 2001

Final Stats - SHU 30 - St. John's 14

     When the 2011 calander finally turned to the month of October, the Pioneers returned to campus ready to give their home fans their first look at the team, hosting St. John's in their home opener on October 6th.  The Pioneers were scheduled to host Canisius in their original home opener, but saw that game cancelled due to September 11th.

Senior RB Marvin Royal

    Close to 2,000 fans came out to Campus Field and saw another dominate SHU defensive performance as the Pioneers posted a 30-14 win.  Sacred Heart wasted little time in getting comfortable at home, running off all 30 of their points in the first half of the win.

     Running back Marvin Royal carried the load on offense, rushing for 157 yards and three touchdowns in the win.  Royal plunged in from a yard out and scored on a 30-yard scamper to give the Pioneers a 14-0 first quarter lead.

     After a St. John's score cut the lead in half, Royal capped a 14-play drive with a one-yard score midway through the second quarter.  SHU would tack on a J.J. Holtfreter score to Doug Geoffrey and a Tim Redican field goal to lead at the break 30-7.

     Defense took control in the second half, forcing St. John's into three punts, a pair of turnovers on downs and a fumble before a last minute touchdown produce the 30-14 final score.  Linebacker Kayode Mayowa led the charge with 14 tackles, three for losses, and a sack.  The defense collected four more turnovers in the win and held the Red Storm to 182 total yards, just 99 yards through the air.

    The Pioneers would move to 4-0 on the year and 3-0 in the NEC with the win, staring down a "Homecoming" match-up with Stony Brook a week later. 

Next Week - The Pioneers make it two-straight at home with a win over Stony Brook, 42-24