October 9, 2010

Pioneers Let 4th Quarter Lead Slip Away in 25-24 Loss at Bryant

SMITHFIELD, R.I. (October 9, 2010) - The Bryant University Bulldogs scored 18-unanswered points to erase a Sacred Heart 24-7 fourth quarter lead sending the Pioneers to their fifth-straight loss on Saturday, 25-24, in Northeast Conference action.  Sophomore Jordan Brown's 73-yard punt return put the Bulldogs ahead for good as Bryant earns their first NEC win on the year.

Sacred Heart's (1-5, 0-4 NEC) senior running back Marcel Archer (Miami, FL) plunged in for six from a yard out, his second score of the afternoon, to give the Pioneers a 24-7 lead with 12:22 left in the fourth quarter as the Pioneers looked to be in control and headed to their first NEC win on the year.  The Bulldogs (4-2, 1-2 NEC) comeback got underway with a Mike Croce four-yard touchdown throw with 8:50 on the clock and ended with Brown's 73-yard scamper at the 5:06 mark to pull off the remarkable comeback.

Pioneer place kicker Jesper Fredriksson (Gothenberg, Sweden) missed three field goals on the afternoon, his last coming from 39-yards out with 2:34 left that would have given SHU the lead.  Fredriksson did connect from 39 yards out in the second quarter.

SHU Quarterback Dale Fink (Swansea, IL) completed 20-of-37 passes for 229 yards and threw a third quarter touchdown to junior Rich Rossi (Moosic, PA).  Archer finished with 73 yards on 19 carries and had a pair of scores.

Second half penalties and special team's miscues proved costly for the Pioneers.  SHU did not commit a penalty in the first half but were flagged seven times for 72 yards in the second half.  Leading 24-7, SHU was flagged for a pair of personal fouls to help extend a Bryant drive that Croce capped by hitting Doug Emerzian on a four-yard score.  SHU's Justin Embler (Cinnimanson, NJ) blocked the extra point, leaving SHU up 24-13.

The Bulldogs elected to kick the ball short on the ensuing kickoff and a miscommunication by the Pioneers allowed Bryant to recover the kick and gain the short field.  They took full advantage in just four plays as Brown ran it in from the two.  The Bulldogs missed the two-point try leaving SHU up 24-19. 

Defensively, Bryant came up with a big three and out on the Pioneer's next possession, led by a sack of Fink on second down by Maduka Nwanekezi.  Punting from his own 27-yard line, Robert Shephard (Groton, CT) got the kick underway despite a heavy rush but Brown weaved his way through the coverage and picked up two big blocks along the left sideline en route to the go ahead score.

The Pioneers would get great field position but their drive for the go-ahead score would stall out on the Bryant 22-yard line, giving Fredriksson a shot at three points.  Having missed already from 50-yards and 39-yards, Fredriksson saw his potential game-winning kick sail wide right and Bryant was able to run out the clock for the comeback win.

Bryant's Brown rung up 130 yards rushing on 36 carries and added a two-yard touchdown run to his punt return for six.

SHU linebackers Mike Zambarano (Natick, MA) and Chris Mandas (Mission Viejo, CA) led the defense with 10 and eight tackles, respectively.  Embler had a pair of tackles for losses along with an interception to go along with his blocked extra point.

The Pioneers will remain on the road next weekend as they head to Duquesne University on Saturday, October 16th.  Kick-off is scheduled for 12 noon.