SMITHFIELD, RI – The Sacred Heart Pioneers racked up 500 yards of total offense on their way to a 56-28 victory over the Bryant Bulldogs Saturday afternoon in Smithfield, RI. It is Sacred Heart's first ever win at Bryant and improves their record to 7-1 overall and 2-1 in the NEC.
R-sophomore quarterback R.J. Noel threw four touchdowns, and added one on the ground on his way to 240 yards of total offense. The rookie signal caller has nine touchdowns in the past two games. Noel tossed three of those touchdowns in the first half to junior wide receiver Tyler Dube (Southington, CT), who finished the day with 6 receptions for 74 yards and the three scores.
Junior running back Keshaudas Spence (Dorchester, MA) ran for 174 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries. Spence has 385 rushing yards in the past two weeks.
On the defensive side of the ball, junior defensive lineman Troy Moore (Worcester, MA) had himself a career day, racking up 6 tackles for loss, three sacks and a forced fumble. Senior defensive back J.D Roussel (Pawtucket, RI) returned an interception for a touchdown, his fifth pick of the season. The Sacred defense allowed just four Bryant rushing yards.
SHU started things off with Noel tossing a beautiful fade to the back corner of the end zone that Dube went up and snagged with two hands and snuck his feet down to put SHU up 6-0.
On their second hook up, Noel found Dube down the right sideline for a 38 yard touchdown connection. Once again Dube leaving his feet to haul in the football, and tip toed down the sideline for the score.
With 2:21 left in the second quarter, Noel once again found his favorite target, this time on a quick nine yard slant for their third scoring connection of the game.
Down 21-0 early in the second half, Bryant finally came alive when Patrick Kenney picked off Noel on the Pioneers first possession of the half. Kenney returned the ball all the way to the SHU 22-yard line. Three plays later, Bryant quarterback Mike Westerhaus found wide receiver Jordan Harris on a three yard slant to put Bryant on the board and cut the Pioneers lead to 21-7.
Following a SHU punt, Westerhaus found Harris once again for his second touchdown reception of the day with 5:05 left in the third quarter to get Bryant within one touchdown at 21-14.
Reeling from back-to-back Bryant scores, the Pioneers answered back with a quick scoring drive spanning just 2 minutes and 19 seconds. Noel capped off the drive with a beautiful spiral to Bobby Johnson (Uncasville, CT) for a 24 yard touchdown. Rolling to his left, Noel squared his shoulders and found Johnson sneaking behind the Bryant secondary for the touchdown.
Not down for too long, the following SHU kick-off was hauled in by Bryant's Jose Depadua at his own goal line and returned 100 yards (a school record) to the end zone to once again cut Sacred Heart's lead to just one score.
After rare back-to-back second half punts by both teams, SHU once again took possession in Bryant territory. Facing a 4th and ten from the Bryant 23-yard line, Noel found fullback Pat Casey for a key conversion to set up first and goal from the five. On the following play, Noel scampered in to score his fourth touchdown of the game and give SHU a 35-21 lead.
The following Bryant possession was quickly cut short by a great play on the ball by Roussel, who took it all the way down the right sideline to to temporarily double up Bryant, 42-21. Bryant took their next possession down the field for a touchdown on 6 plays, capping it off with another connection between Westerhaus and Harris.
Junior running back Sean Bell (Medford Lakes, NJ) was the next Pioneer to get in on the offensive explosion, taking a hand-off from Noel 34 yards to the end zone to give the Pioneers a 49-28 lead with 8:14 left in the game.
Spence capped off the Pioneers great day with a touchdown from one yard out to make the final score 56-28 with 1:43 left in the ball game. Spence now has 997 yards rushing this season and nine touchdowns.
Sacred Heart looks for three in a row next Saturday when they take a trip to Loretto, PA to take on Saint Francis University at noon.