SETTING THE SCENE
The Pioneers play the middle contest of a three game home stand under the lights Friday night against Bryant. The two programs will clash live on MSG Plus Network and Cox Sports CT/RI in the Northeast Conference opener for both sides. Sacred Heart was idle, enjoying a bye last week, while the Bulldogs knocked off Division II American International, 27-16. The Pioneers shutout Marist for the first half of the season opener but eventually fell to the Red Foxes, 20-7. Bryant has played two very different opponents in 2011, facing off against Maine, a team who received votes in the latest FCS Top-25 poll, as well as the Yellow Jackets.
THE SACRED HEART vs. BRYANT SERIES
This is just the fourth meeting in history between Sacred Heart and Bryant. The home team is a perfect 3-0 in the series as the Bulldogs earned a narrow 25-24 victory in 2010. The Bulldogs rallied from a 24-7 fourth quarter deficit, capped by a 73 yard Jordan Brown punt return, to earn the program's first ever victory over SHU. The Pioneers have defeated Bryant twice at Campus Field, 24-14 in 2009 and 19-15 in 2000. Sacred Heart also knocked off Bryant in 1998 as the Bulldogs played at the club level in their first season of organized football.
SECOND HALF STUMBLE
The Pioneers scored on their second drive of the game as Tim Little ran into the end zone from five yards out for his first collegiate touchdown. However, that would be the only points SHU could manage against Marist in the season opener under the lights at Campus Field. Sacred Heart picked up only 92 yards in the second half against the Red Foxes.
Both Luke Wischnowski (West Chester, PA) and Tim Little (Egg Harbor Twp., NJ) both took their first collegiate snap versus Marist. In fact, both signal callers had plenty of chances to make their case to become the squad's permanent quarterback. However, the pair did not help head coach Paul Gorham make a decision, putting up very similar numbers. Little went 9-of-12 for 77 yards while Wischnowski completed seven passes on 13 attempts for 65 yards. The SHU ground game did not help the passing attack, netting 32 total yards on 28 attempts.
J.D. PICKS UP AN "I-N-T"
Red-shirt freshman J.D. Roussel (Pawtucket, RI) snatched his first career interception in the second quarter of Sacred Heart's clash with Marist. The 5-10 cornerback kept the momentum on SHU's side, intercepting Red Fox QB Chuckie Looney one play after Marist had created a turnover of its own. Roussel also registered two tackles in his collegiate debut at Campus Field. Roussel's interception was one of two take-aways by the Pioneer defense.
SHU IN THE NEC
The Pioneers are playing in their 14th season in the Northeast Conference this fall. SHU holds a 38-48 record in NEC competition since joining the league in 1998. The Pioneers won their only league championship during the 2001 campaign, notching a perfect 8-0 record. SHU finished second to Robert Morris in 2000, going 7-1 in the league. The Pioneers are coming off of an eighth place finish in 2009 with a 2-6 conference mark.
PAUL GORHAM COACH'S SHOW
Sacred Heart head football coach Paul Gorham sits down with Randy Brochu of the SHU athletic communications department every Tuesday to talk about the team. Fans can watch the Paul Gorham Coach's show via Pioneer Vision on www.SacredHeartPioneers.com or on YouTube. Here are some excerpts from last week's show, during the SHU bye week (9/8):
On the Pioneers Two Starting QB's: "Both guys played alright. Maybe Timmy played a little bit better, Luke had more chances when we got down late in the game. Everyone has to do their job and weren't all on the same page."
On Jo-Jo Jamiel: "The great thing about Jo Jo is we can plug him in anywhere. He knows what he's doing and is a very versatile player. It gives us a chance to make up for some of our injuries and allows him to play the whole game."
On the Bye Week: "Typically when you have a game that you get upset, or you lose, you want to get right back out there and try and get that taste out of your mouth. Unfortunately we don't have that opportunity, it is what it is. But it never hurts to get some extra practice and get a little fresher."
MANDAS: PRESEASON ALL-NEC
The Sacred Heart football program has had a tradition of putting standout linebackers on the field and this season that trend will continue. Senior inside linebacker Chris Mandas (Mission Viejo, CA) is a Preseason All-Northeast Conference pick heading into the season and was recently named a team captain for 2011. Mandas has led the team in tackles each of the last two seasons and should crack the top-five all-time at SHU in career tackles (211). He has appeared in all 32 games while at SHU and has started 21-straight games heading into the season. He posted a pair of 12 tackle games in 2010, against Central Connecticut and Monmouth, on his way to 88 stops on the year.
PIONEERS PART OF NEC TV HISTORY
Friday night marks a significant landmark in the development of the Northeast Conference on television. The Pioneers battle with the Bulldogs will air live in high definition on both MSG Plus and Cox Sports CT/RI. The game is the first NEC football contest to be broadcast in high definition. The 2011 Northeast Conference television schedule includes five total games and will feature all nine NEC football programs.
A LOOK BACK - THE 10 YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF SHU'S NATIONAL TITLE
The 2001 Sacred Heart Football team finished a perfect 11-0 and claimed the NCAA Division I-AA Mid-Major National Championship. Every week we will recap the Pioneers historical through the 2001 season, going through the 10 year anniversary game-by-game.
The 2001 Pioneers also did not play in the second week of the season as the tragic events of September 11 cancelled a scheduled game versus Marist. When Sacred Heart did take to the field again they faced off with perennial NEC power Robert Morris. SHU racked up over 500 yards of total offense en route to a 44-31 victory over the Colonials.
The Pioneers wrap-up the season opening three game home stand next time out as they welcome in the Dartmouth Big Green during homecoming weekend.