FAIRFIELD, Conn –Coming off a 24-10 loss at Saint Francis, the Sacred Heart Pioneers built a 24-7 halftime lead on the Monmouth Hawks and held on for a 24-21 win Saturday afternoon on Campus Field. Sacred Heart is now 2-0 after a loss this season and improve to 8-2 overall, 3-2 in the Northeast Conference.
Redshirt sophomore R.J. Noel (Lowell, MA) tossed a touchdown pass and ran for a score as well on his way to 43 yards rushing and 184 yards through the air. Noel has tossed a touchdown pass in each of the Pioneers' games this season, and leads the NEC with 20 touchdown passes.
Sophomore linebacker Kellen Sperduto (Oldwick, NJ) racked up 11 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 3 tackles for loss for the Pioneer defense. Sperduto has 86 tackles this season, second in the Northeast Conference.
Monmouth and Sacred Heart traded jabs in the opening minutes, each taking their opening possession down the field for a touchdown. The Pioneers got things started with a Noel four yard TD run, capping a six play 79 yard scoring drive. Sophomore running back Keshaudas Spence (Dorchester, MA) ran for 28 yards on the drive. The Hawks and running back Julian Hayes answered right back with a scoring drive of their own, ending with Hayes taking in from 58 yards out to even the score with 4:51 left in the first quarter.
On the Pioneers next possession, it was more of the same with SHU taking it down the field in two and a half minutes. Junior fullback Pat Casey (Berlin, NJ) capped of the scoring drive with a four yard touchdown reception. On the ground and through the air, Noel accounted for 42 yards on the drive in which he threw his NEC leading 20th touchdown pass this season.
Following a Monmouth three and out, SHU added to their lead with an 11 play, 47 yard scoring drive that ended with a Chris Rogers 38-yard field goal. Noel completed back-to-back 19 yard passes on the drive, one to Tyler Dube (Southington, CT) and the other to junior Bobby Johnson (Uncasville, CT).
The Pioneers finished their impressive first half with one of the wildest plays in SHU history. Sophomore wide receiver Moses Webb (Manassas, VA) made the play of the season, catching a 23 yard pass from Noel before losing a fumble and then stripping Monmouth's Ify Alsoluka who recovered his fumble and then taking that recovery 51 yards to the end zone. Webb's incredible hustle gave the Pioneers a 24-7 heading into the second half.
Monmouth fought back in the second half, scoring two touchdowns in the second stanza to put pressure on the Pioneers. Thaddeus Richards caught a 19-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Hill to cut Sacred Heart's lead to 24-14 with 2:39 left in the third quarter. K.B Asante added Monmouth's second score on a two yard run that put the Hawks within three points with 6:25 left in the game.
With the Hawks down three with the ball, the Pioneer defense came up huge with a four down stop to end Monmouth's comeback attempt. Sperduto notched his third tackle for loss of the game on a Monmouth fourth and three with 1:29 left in the game.
Sacred Heart is back home next Saturday for a date with the Duquesne Dukes on Senior Day at Campus Field. The game will be broadcasted live on ESPN3.