Sacred Heart Pioneers (1-1, 0-1 Northeast Conference) at Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash (0-2, 0-0 Northeast Conference)
Game #3 - Saturday, Sept. 18, 2010 - 12:00 pm Loretto, Pa. - DeGol Field (3,450)
TV: Fox College Sports, CT Sports Network, ESPN3, ESPN Game Plan
Setting the Scene... The Sacred Heart Pioneers hit the road to Western Pennsylvania this weekend to take on the Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash in Northeast Conference action. The Pioneers are looking to shake off a tough 35-31 loss to Robert Morris at home last week in search of their first league win of 2010. After taking a 31-28 lead with 59 second left, SHU couldn't hold on as the Colonials scored with just 17 ticks to go to steal the win. The Red Flash are searching for their first win after suffering losses to Liberty and Morehead State in weeks one and two. Today's game is being broadcast live on TV. Calling all the action for Northeast Conference TV is Paul Dottino and Steve Levy.
The Sacred Heart - Saint Francis Series... Sacred Heart leads the all-time series, 9-5. The Pioneers have won two-straight in the series heading into this weekend's match-up, winning 41-24 on the road in 2008 and 29-7 at home last fall. The Pioneers and Red Flash met for the first time during the 1993 season and again in 1994 but wouldn't meet again until 1998 when the Pioneers joined the NEC. The Pioneers own a pair of shutouts in the series in 2000 (20-0) and 2001 (54-0). Sacred Heart is 4-3 in the series at home and 5-2 on the road in Loretto, Pa.
SHU in the NEC... The Pioneers begin their 13th season of play in the Northeast Conference this fall. SHU holds a 37-49 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 a seventh place finish in 2009 with a 2-6 conference mark.
Up Next... Sacred Heart remains on the road next weekend as they make program history facing their first opponent from the Ivy League. The Pioneers will head to Dartmouth College to take on the Big Green next Saturday at 1:30 pm.
The Head Coaches... Sacred Heart head coach Paul Gorham (New Hampshire '84) is in his seventh season on the Pioneer sideline. Gorham was named the school's seventh head coach in June of 2004 and owns a 26-39 record in his seven year career. Prior to becoming the Pioneer's head coach, Gorham had stops at UMass, Brown, New Haven and his alma mater New Hampshire. Saint Francis (PA) head coach Chris Villarrial (Indiana University of Pennsylvania '96) is in his first season on the Red Flash sidelines after being named the program's 25th head coach. Villarrial spent 11 seasons in the NFL as an offensive lineman with the Chicago Bears (1996-2004) and Buffalo Bills (2004-06). Villarrial was the offensive coordinator under predecessor Dave Opfar in 2009.
Last Meeting with Saint Francis (PA)... Sacred Heart senior Brian Friedman pounded his way to a career-high 134 yards rushing and two touchdowns to lead the Pioneers past Saint Francis (PA), 29-7 last fall on Campus Field. Friedman led a SHU attack that piled up 206 yards on the ground en route to snapping a four-game slide and notching their first win of 2009. The Pioneer defense held the Red Flash to just 180 yards of total offense, including minus three yards on the ground. Senior linebacker Chansler Davis led the way with nine tackles, three for losses including a pair of sacks in the win. SHU dropped Red Flash quarterback John Kelly four times on the afternoon and held their offense to just three of 16 on third down. The Red Flash served up the first points of the day on their first possession. After a three-and-out, the team lined up to punt but the snap sailed over punter Grant Price's reach and out of the end zone, resulting in a 31-yard loss and a Pioneer safety. SHU added to the lead on their second possession of the day as quarterback Dale Fink finished off a six-play drive by hitting senior Steve Tedesco in the left corner of the end zone on second and goal from eight yards out. Sacred Heart's running attack took over in the second quarter as Friedman and Garry Coles tacked on a pair of long touchdown runs to give the Pioneers a 22-0 lead. The second half turned into a battle of both team's defenses before SHU put the game away with an 11-play drive that ended with Friedman barreling in from three-yards out for a 29-7 lead with 8:33 left. The SHU defense capped off the win with a goal-line stand on the next Red Flash possession, as Davis notched his second sack on first and goal to set the tone.
Last Time Out... Sacred Heart r-senior quarterback Dale Fink connected with r-sophomore Sean Kessler on a 47-yard touchdown with 1:07 left to give the Pioneers a 31-28 lead but Robert Morris answered back with a score in the waning seconds to steal away a 35-31 last Saturday on Campus Field. Colonial quarterback Jeff Sinclair hooked-up with tight end Shadrae King for six to cap a five-play, 60 yard drive with just 17 seconds left to snatch a win from the jaws of defeat in the Northeast Conference opener for both clubs. The Pioneers had a 24-14 lead at the end of the third but the Colonials put 21 points on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter en route to the comeback. SHU struggled running the ball, gaining just 10 yards on 22 carries. SHU's Fink completed 27-of-41 passes for 324 yards, four scores with a pick but was sacked five times in the loss. RMU's King hauled in eight balls for 133 yards and three scores while Myles Russ ran the ball 24 times for 116 yards and a pair of scores. The Colonials piled up 415 yards of total offense. Sinclair completed 14 of 28 passes for 250 yards, three scores and an interception. The Pioneers got a solid defensive day from linebacker Chris Mandas who posted seven tackles, a sack and an interception. Running back Marcel Archer had a net of just 39 yards rushing on 14 carries but saw two of his four catches in the game go for scores. Junior wide out Rich Rossi posted his first career 100-yard receiving day, hauling in a career-best nine passes for 108 yards and his first score of 2010.
TV Time... The Sacred Heart Pioneers will help kickoff the 2010 Northeast Conference Football Television package when they travel out to Loretto, PA to face the Saint Francis (PA) Red Flash. The Pioneers and Red Flash are game one of a five game television package this fall. The five game package is the largest in league history.
Fast Start for Fink... R-Senior quarterback Dale Fink is off to a fast start to the 2010 season. Fink is completing 71.0% of his passes (49-69) for 553 yards through two games. Fink is coming off a 324 yard, four touchdown performance against Robert Morris last week. His 324 yards is the second highest game total by a Pioneer in school history. Fink holds the record at 373 yards against Monmouth last season.
Spreading the Love... The SHU passing game has been all about spreading the football around this season with 12 different Pioneers catching at least one pass. As a team, Pioneer receivers are averaging 11.1 yards per catch. The receiving corps is led by junior rich Rossi and r-senior Mark Uyeno who have hauled in 12 and 11 balls each, respectively. SHU running back Marcel Archer caught a pair of touchdowns in the loss to Robert Morris. Quarterback Dale Fink has even gotten into the act, catching a swing pass from freshman Greg Moore on a trick play against RMU.
Rossi's Career Outing... Junior wide receiver / tight end Rich Rossi hauled in nine passes for 108 yards, both career-best marks and a score in the loss to Robert Morris. Rossi's six-yard score was his first this season. Rossi ranks second in the NEC in receiving yards per game (82.0) and third in receptions per game (6.00).
NEC Leading Arial Attack... The Pioneers have the Northeast Conference's top-passing attack behind four-year starter Dale Fink. SHU is averaging 277.5 yards per game through the air in the early going. Fink is throwing for an average of 276.5 yards per game, tops in the NEC. SHU is averaging a league-best 7.9 yards per pass play.
SHU's Sack Master... Senior outside linebacker Bill O'Brien returned to the line-up this season after missing all of 2009 with an injury. O'Brien has made his presence felt early on with a sack in each of the Pioneers first two games. O'Brien was an All-NEC pick in 2008 after posting 61 tackles and three sacks. For his career, the senior end has seven sacks on his ledger.
Trading a Soccer Ball for a Football... Graduate student Jesper Fredriksson has taken over the place kicking duties full-time this season after a standout playing career on the SHU men's soccer team. Fredriksson joined the team at the end of last season and handled the kick-off duties for the Pioneers. Fredriksson took 10 kickoffs in 2009 averaging 57.1 yards per kick with a pair of touchbacks. This season, he has assumed all kicking duties and has yet to miss his mark. Fredriksson has nailed all eight of his extra point attempts and buried a 46-yarder against Robert Morris, the second longest field goal in school history. His booming kick cleared the cross bar with plenty to spare, falling just a yard short of the school record set by Lou Monaco in 1996 against Stony Brook. Fredriksson has averaged 59.5 yards on his kickoffs with a touchback. In his four years on the soccer pitch, Fredriksson appeared in 62 games scoring 12 goals, four assists and 28 points.
Playmaker in the middle... Junior linebacker Chris Mandas ranks 10th in the NEC in tackles per game (8.0), tied with teammate Justin Embler and Alex DiMichele of Robert Morris). The junior inside backer has become one of the Pioneers defensive leaders, showing a knack for making big plays. Mandas has a sack, a pair of pass break-ups and an interception in his first two games of 2010.