Pioneers Take Down Marist 37-21 To Win Football Season Opener

RB Keshaudas Spence
RB Keshaudas Spence

POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. – A dominant showing by the Sacred Heart offense led the Pioneers football team to a 37-21 win over the Marist Red Foxes Saturday night at Tenney Stadium at Leonidoff Field in the 2013 season opener.

The Pioneers led 37-7 with 10:09 left in the game before the Red Foxes tacked on two late touchdowns. Sacred Heart ran for 234 yards and had 435 yards of total offense. Sophomore quarterback RJ Noel (Lowell, Mass.) ran for 103 yards and a touchdown while accumulating 201 yards passing. Junior running back Keshaudas Spence (Dorchester, Mass.) ran the ball 20 times for 83 yards and a score. Stephan Thomas (Egg Harbor Twp., N.J.) led Sacred Heart with seven tackles.

Sacred Heart (1-0) took the ball to start the game, opening from its own 29-yard line. Noel ran for 21 yards on the first play of the game, converting a 3rd-and-1 with his feet later in the drive to get the Pioneers to the Marist (0-1) 28 yard line. The Pioneers' drive stalled at the Marist 22 yard line, leading to a 39-yard field goal by Chris Rogers (Cazenovia, NY) to give Sacred Heart a 3-0 lead.

The Red Foxes' fumbled the ensuing kickoff, with Pioneer Sam McCain (Jamison, Pa.) recovering the loose ball at the Marist 25 yard line. Runs by Noel and Spence got the Pioneers to the nine yard line, where Rogers kicked a 26-yard field goal to put Sacred Heart ahead 6-0 with 8:21 remaining in the first quarter.  Sacred Heart forced Marist to punt on its next possession, but Jesse Signa pinned the Pioneers' inside the 10 yard line. Sacred Heart ran a 12-play drive to get into Marist territory, but were forced to punt.

The Pioneers extended the lead early in the second quarter when a 22-yard field goal by Rogers put Sacred Heart up 9-0 with 10:11 left in the half. Noel completed two passes for first down on the drive Spence and Sean Bell each had a first down rushing. Sacred Heart forced a three-and-out with less than five minutes to play in the half, resulting in a Marist punt. Tyler Dube (Southington, Conn.) returned the punt 36 yards to the Marist 17, with a Red Foxes' penalty moving the ball to the nine. On the next play, Greg Moore (Newark, N.J.) scored the first Sacred Heart touchdown of the season on an end around to make the score 16-0.

After a one hour, three minute weather delay, Marist marched down the field and scored on a 1-yard run by Atiq Lucas to make the score 16-7 with 0:52 left in the half, a score that stood through halftime. Sacred Heart ran 52 plays in the first half to Marist's 28, outgaining the Red Foxes 236-107.

The Pioneers used a complete team effort on its first score of the second half. Punter Alec Finney (Reading, Pa.) pinned Marist to the Red Foxes' two yard line with a 28 yard punt. Sacred Heart's defense then forced and recovered a fumble on the next play. Spence then punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Pioneers' a 23-7 lead with 6:47 remaining in the third quarter. The Pioneers scored on their next possession as Noel connected with Dube on a 46-yard touchdown pass to make the score 30-7 with 3:40 left in the quarter. Noel also scored on a 9-yard run early in the fourth to put the Pioneers ahead 37-7, effectively putting away the Red Foxes.

The Pioneers are back in action next Saturday, Sept. 7 at Lafayette. Kickoff is set for 6 p.m.