FAIRFIELD, Conn. (November 20, 2010) – Sacred Heart senior quarterback Dale Fink (Swansea, IL) became the Northeast Conference's all-time leading passer on Saturday, throwing for 395 yards and five touchdowns to lead the Pioneers to a 38-22 win over visiting Wagner in the season finale for both teams. Fink ends his career with 8,803 yards passing and 82 touchdowns, setting new NEC records in both categories. The Pioneers end the year 4-7 overall and 2-6 in the NEC.
Fink moves pas for Saint Francis (PA) quarterback Anthony Doria who held the passing yardage record in the NEC with 8.544 yards. Fink broke the NEC touchdown mark in the loss to Albany, moving past Robert Morris's Tim Levick who had 77 career scoring throws. The senior signal caller ends his stellar Sacred Heart career holding 13 school records.
The Pioneers (4-7, 2-6 NEC) took the opening kickoff and wasted little time in driving the field for the game's opening points. Fink completed four-of-five and capped the six-play, 74 yard opening drive with a 19-yard strike over the middle to junior Garry Coles (Southington, CT) for six. A 37-yard return by Wagner's Frantz Placide on the kickoff gave the Seahawks great field position at SHU's 44-yard line and running back Eric Foxworth tied it at 7-7 just a minute and a half later with a 23-yard score.
Wagner caught a break on the ensuing kickoff as Pat O'Connor delivered a crushing blow to Marcel Archer (Miami, FL) on the return forcing a fumble and getting the recovery. The Seahawks looked as if they would take advantage starting their drive on the SHU 28-yard line but the Pioneer defense would come up with the play that would turn the momentum and game. Facing third-and-nine, Wagner quarterback Nick Doscher looked deep down the middle but SHU senior safety Rashod Underwood (Baltimore, MD) made a diving interception on the eight-yard line to thwart the threat and the Pioneers never looked back.
Fink put the Pioneers up 14-7 at the end of the first quarter finding freshman Chris Nahat (Odessa, FL) on a 36-yard deep post route for six. That completion gave the senior quarterback the NEC record as he came in to the day needing just 136 yards to pass Doria. A Wagner three-and-out was followed by Fink's third touchdown, a three-yard swing into the flat to Archer for a 21-7 lead at 11:17.
The SHU defense did their job forcing another three-and-out and the Pioneers made it 28-7 with 6:14 left in the half. Fink led an eight-play drive capped by a 50-yard pitch-and-catch with junior wide out Rich Rossi (Moosic, PA). Fink avoided the Wagner rush moving to his right and found Rossi making his way over the middle and the junior outran the Seahawk defense for the score.
Wagner tried to get points on their next possession but a 48-yard field goal attempt by David Lopez fell short and the Pioneers tacked on three just before the half as senior Jesper Fredriksson (Gothenberg, Sweden) nailed his 10th field goal of the season from 30 yards out for a 31-7 lead. Fink's halftime numbers could have passes for any quarterback's game totals, completing 21-of-27 passes for 306 yards and four scores.
The Seahawks tried to pull their way back in the game in the third quarter as Doscher hit David Crawford for a34-yard touchdown with 8:38 left. The SHU defense forced punts on their next two possessions and Fink opened the fourth quarter tossing his fifth touchdown of the game. Wagner punter Kyle Muir buried the Pioneers back to their one yard line but Fink used 12 plays to take his team down the field, completing the journey with his second scoring pass to Coles, this time from 26-yards out. to lead 38-14 with 12:17 left in the game. The Seahawks would tack on another score but the Pioneers ended any threat of a comeback turning over Wagner on downs with just over five minutes left.
Archer finished the game with a career-high 121 yards in the win, 70 of those coming in the second half. Archer finished the season with 16 touchdowns, the second highest season total in school history. Fink completed 31-of-45 passes on the day, hitting eight different receivers. R-sophomore Rock Tate (Lantana, FL) led all receivers with six catches while Coles finished with five grabs for a team-high 97 yards.
Senior Tony Patterson (Groton, CT) caught three passes for 33 yards, ending his career with 117 catches for 1,345 yards, ranking him third and fourth on the all-time list, respectively. Rossi ends the season as the Pioneer's leading receiver catching 51 passes for 704 yards and five touchdowns. His 51 catches rank fifth for a season at SHU and his 704 yards rank sixth for a season.
On defense, junior linebacker Chris Mandas (Mission Viejo, CA) posted nine tackles with a pair of sacks to end the season as SHU's leading tackler with 88 stops on the year.
Before the game, the Pioneers honored their graduating seniors in captains Fink, Underwood, Bill O'Brien (Lafayette, NY) and Justin Smith (Binghamton, NY) along with Archer, Patterson, Fredriksson, Shawn Bennett (Jamaica, NY), Ray Sheehan (Howard Beach, NY), Tom Stripe (Mahwah, NJ), Mark Uyeno (Setauket, NY), Vinny Branchini (Longmeadow, MA) and Andrew Costantino (Abiagton, MA).