Pioneers Return Home to Host Nationally Ranked Albany

Pioneers Return Home to Host Nationally Ranked Albany

SACRED HEART (2-5, 1-3 NEC) VS. ALBANY (6-1, 4-0 NEC)

Game 08 * Fairfield, CT * Campus Field * 1:00 pm

Video * Live Stats

Game Notes

Setting the Scene...  The Sacred Heart Pioneers head back home to Campus Field on Saturday looking to bounce back from a 35-3 loss at Duquesne as they play host to the Albany Great Danes on "SHU Family Weekend."  The Pioneers are home for just the third time this season and carry a 2-5 mark into Saturday's match-up.  The defending Northeast Conference Champion and preseason favorite Great Danes come in off their bye week sporting a 6-1 record and a 4-0 NEC mark.  Albany finds itself ranked in both top-25 national polls this week.  The Great Danes moved up two spots in the Coaches Poll to No. 20, staying ranked for the third straight week, while breaking into the The Sports Network Poll for the first time in six years at No. 24.  The 2012 season is the last for the Great Danes in the NEC as they will move into the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA) in 2013.

Series Notes...  This will be the 15th meeting between Sacred Heart and Albany.

- The series has been dominated by the Great Danes who hold a 12-2 lead

- Albany has won 10-straight against the Pioneers.

- The last SHU win in the series came in 2001 on the road, 32-17.  The Pioneers other win in the series came in 2000, a 35-28 overtime victory at home.

- This meeting will mark the first time SHU will face a nationally ranked Albany team

The Head Coaches...  The Pioneers will be lead by interim head coach Mark Nofri in 2012.  Beginning his 19th season as a member of the Pioneers coaching staff, Nofri is the longest tenured coach in Sacred Heart program history.  He will lead the team with Head Coach Paul Gorham on medical leave.  Nofri is also the long time linebackers coach for the Pioneers, turning out several All-Conference and All-American linebackers including Jayson Jarrett '01, Kayode Mayowa '02, Craig Capurso '02, Jon Corto '06 and Chris Mandas '11.  Bob Ford is the only coach the University at Albany has ever had, now in his 40th season on the Great Danes' sideline.  Ford has led his teams to a 252-158 record and guided the Great Danes to five Northeast Conference championships while winning NEC Coach of the Year accolades on four times.

Up Next...  Sacred Heart heads back out on the road next Saturday with a trip to Smithfield, Rhode Island to face the Bryant Bulldogs.  The Pioneers lead the all-time series 3-2 but have lost the last two meetings with the Bulldogs.  Bryant, in their first season in the NEC with NCAA postseason eligibility, has rebounded from an 0-6 start to their season to win their last two, 38-35 over Robert Morris, and 27-24 at Monmouth.

- The Sacred Heart offense was held to just three points for the second time this season with their 35-3 loss at Duquesne last Saturday.  The last time the Pioneers were held without a touchdown in two or more games in a season came in 2004 when they fell 27-6 at CCSU and 23-6 to Albany.  In the history of the program, the Pioneers are 2-57 when scoring less than 10 points in a game.

- The Pioneers have had a least one sack in each game this season and lead the NEC and are ranked 14th in the NCAA averaging 2.86 per game.  The Pioneers had three sacks in last Saturday's loss at Duquesne.

- R-junior Chaz Partosan is tied for the NEC lead and is tied for ninth in the NCAA rankings with 6.5 sacks on the year. - R-Senior Tyler Foehr is 15th in the NCAA in tackles for a loss (1.43 pg).  He is second to Partosan with 5.5 sacks on the year.

- Junior inside linebacker Justin Sexton is second in the NEC and is 18th nationally averaging 10.43 tackles per game. He has 73 total tackles, 50 have been solo stops.  The SHU record for unassisted tackles in a season is 75 by Kayode Mayowa (1999)

- The Sacred Heart defense climbed the NEC rankings and is among the leaders in several categories.  .

  - Ranked 1st in sacks (20) and red zone defense (21-31)

  - Ranked 2nd in pass defense (163.6 ypg)

  - Ranked 3rd in rushing defense (162.6 ypg) and total defense (326.1 ypg)

  - Ranked 4th in scoring defense (24.3 ppg)

- Sophomore running back Keshaudas Spence had just 49 yards rushing through the first three games of the season but has flipped the script and has churned out 402 yards on 58 carries (6.9 ypc) with four scores since. Spence is now ninth in the NEC in rushing and is first among the league's rushers averaging 6.1 yards per carry.

   Spence 2012 Game by Game

   vs. Morgan State - 7 att, 23 yds, 0 TD

   vs. Colgate - 6 att, 18 yds, 0 TD

   vs. Monmouth - 3 att, 8 yds, 0 TD

   vs. CCSU - 10 att, 123 yds, 1 TD

   vs. Wagner - 12 att, 72 yds, 0 TD

   vs. Dartmouth - 19 att, 138 yds, 3 TD

   vs. Duquesne - 17 att, 69 yds, 0 TD

- Spence would love to see Dartmouth on the SHU schedule every season.  As a rookie, he had 129 yards and two touchdowns in a win over the Big Green at home.  Spence totalled a career-high 138 yards and scored three times to lead SHU to a 27-10 win.

- Senior running back Kevin Eckel is ranked second in the NEC in kick return average this season.  Eckel has 15 returns for 352 yards, a 23.5 average per return.  His long of 49 yards came vs. CCSU.  He currently ranks 37th among NCAA leaders.

- Offensively, the Pioneers have struggled on third down and in the red zone this season.  SHU ranks ninth in the NEC on third down, converting 28.9% (28-97).  The Pioneers are last in the NEC when they get into the red zone, scoring just 62.5% (15-24) of the time