BALTIMORE, MD (September 1, 2012) – Ervin Gonzalez drilled a 20-yard field goal in the fourth overtime to give the Morgan State Bears a 27-24 win over visiting Sacred Heart University Saturday afternoon at Hughes Stadium in Baltimore, MD. The loss drops the Pioneers to 0-1 to start the season.
The four overtime marked the longest game in Sacred Heart program history. SHU last played an overtime game in 2007, a 30-23 loss at home to Duquesne. The loss puts SHU 3-3 all-time in overtime games.
"I thought we played really hard and I am excited about the way they hung in there when you go four overtimes in the season opener and we didn't melt," stated head coach Mark Nofri. "It showed me we were in great shape and ready for the challenge. I am proud of the way we fought. It was back and forth. We just need to learn to finish."
The Pioneers had two chances to win the game on field goals, at the end of regulation and in the third overtime period but saw Chris Rogers's (Cazenovia, NY) field goal attempts come up short and get blocked. The Bears ended the marathon game in the fourth overtime after Rogers missed his third field goal of the game with a chance to give SHU the lead.
SHU had to overcome a fumble on the game's opening kickoff and did just that coming up with a blocked field goal of their own. SHU's Kevin Eckel (Haverford, PA) took a big hit on the opening kickoff and fumbled setting up the Bear on the Pioneer 22 yard line. The SHU defense stood tall, forcing a three and out and a Gonzalez field goal attempt for the game's first points but came up with the big play on special teams to swing the momentum.
R-Junior quarterback Tim Little (Egg Harbor Twp., NJ) and the SHU took advantage and put together a 10-play drive that resulted in a Pioneer touchdown. Helped by a pair of facemask penalties, SHU drove down to the MSU 12 yard line and on third and 10, Little stood in the pocket and delivered a strike to r-sophomore Robert Dim (Sicklerville, NJ) for six.
The Sacred Heart defense held Morgan State in check for much of the first half, allowing just a field goal, but a big play by the Bear defensive unit resulted in a 10-7 lead at the half. MSU corner Joe Rankin picked off a Little pass to the right flat and blew down the sidelines untouched for a 72-yard return for a touchdown with just under 10 to play in the second quarter.
The SHU running game, which churned out 175 yards rushing, got the Pioneers back on top in the third quarter. Sophomore Sean bell (Medford Lakes, NJ) capped off a nine play, 63 yard drive with a one-yard plunge for his first career touchdown with 5:24 left in the quarter.
The Bears used the big play to jump back in front as tailback Travis Davidson burst of left tackle and tore up the sidelines for a 70 yard score with 2:27 left for a 17-14 lead. On the Pioneer's first possesion of the fourth quarter, Little hooked-up with r-sophomore Rickey Moore, Jr. (Springfield, MA) for his first career score and a 21-17 lead. Davidson gave his team back the lead two possesions later, scoring from a yard out for a 24-21 lead with 3:36 to play.
Little guided SHU quickly down the field with the big play coming on the drive's first play when he found senior Jo Jo Jamiel (West Yarmouth, MA) all alone for a 39 yard gain to the Morgan State 18 yard line. The drive stalled out but Rogers promptly drilled a 28-yard field goal with 49 seconds left to knot the game at 24-24.
SHU caught a break on Morgan State's final drive as junior linebacker Justin Sexton (Murrieta, CA) intercepted Seth Higgins at midfield to give the Pioneers a chance for the win. Little was able to get the Pioneers down to the 28 yard line but a 43 yard field goal attempt by Rogers fell short as time expired, sending the game to overtime.
The first overtime ended with Gonzalez missing wide left on his field goal attempt and Little getting intercepted in the endzone on fourth down. In the second overtime session, Rogers and Gonzalez exchanged field goal makes of 27 and 21 yards, respectively. The Bears opened their possesion with a Higgins completion to Chris Flowers down to inside the one yard line. The SHU defense came up with a goal line stand as they pushed Davidson back to the four yard line on the next two plays and forcing an incompletion on third down to set up the field goal forcing the third overtime.
The SHU defense again stood tall in the third overtime, as Morgan State was set up first and goal from the Pioneers two yard line. On third and goal, quarterback Robert Council scrambled and hit by Sexton who forced a fumble that the Pioneers recovered on the one. With a chance for the win, drove the ball down to the 13 yard line and lined up for a 30-yard attempt by Rogers for the win. MSU's Lamar Bynum denied the Pioneers, coming up with the block on Rogers attempt, sending the game to a fourth overtime session.
Sacred Heart put themselves in postion at first goal on the six, but a holding penalty stalled the drive forcing a Rogers field goal attempt from 35 yards out. His attempt would miss wide left, setting up Morgan State for the chance to win it. The Bears went to their running game and behind Mann and Davidson put the ball on the SHU six yard line where Gonzalaz ended it with his third field goal of the day.
Little connected on a pair of touchdown throws while completing 24-of-50 passes for 266 yards. On the ground, the Pioneer offense churned out 175 yards rushing led by the combination of junior Greg Moore (Newark, NJ)'s 68 yards and Bell's 63 yards. Bell had a one yard touchdown run in the loss.
Morgan State (1-0) was led by Travis Davidson who ran for 107 yards and a pair of scores. Davidson rang up 70-yards of his 107 on one play when he broke off left tackle and up the sideline for a long third quarter score.
Gonzalez hit on three of his five field goal attempts, making from 32 yards, 21 yards and the game-winner from 20 yards out in the fourth overtime. SHU place kicker Chris Rogers hit a 28 yarder to tie the game with 49 seconds left in the fourth quarter and drilled a 27 yard attempt to extend the second overtime.
Defensively, SHU was led by senior Niko Sierra (Longmeadow, MA) who turned in nine tackles, six solo. Sexton had seven tackles, forced a fumble and had an interception for the Pioneers. Morgan State got 11 tackles from freshman Elandon Roberts in the win.
The Pioneers will have the week over before heading to Colgate on Saturday, September 15th at 1:00 pm.