Pioneers and Dukes Set for Pivotal NEC Clash on ESPN3
DUQUESNE (5-3, 3-1) AT SACRED HEART (8-2, 2-2)
GAME 11* Fairfield, CT* CAMPUS FIELD 12:00 PM*
Setting the Scene… The Sacred Heart Pioneers welcome the first place Duquesne Dukes to Campus Field for a key conference showdown to be broadcasted live on ESPN3. With bothteams firmly in the conference title hunt, today's game will go a long way in deciding who willget a slot in the FCS playoffs. Sacred Heart is coming off a 24-21 win over Monmouth, whileDuquesne comes into this afternoon's game having defeated Saint Francis University 21-10, onSaturday afternoon. SHU lost to Saint Francis two weeks ago in Loretto, Pa. Duquesne's loneconference loss comes at the hands of the Bryant Bulldogs, 42-14 in Smithfield, RI on October26th. The Pioneers defeated Bryant 56-28 earlier this season. Sacred Heart will celebrate their 14departing seniors in a ceremony prior to today's game.
Last Time Out…Sacred Heart is coming off a 24-21 home win over the Monmouth Hawkson Saturday afternoon. SHU is now 2-0 after a loss this season and 2-2 in the Northeast Conference.R.J. Noel accounted for 227 yards of total offense and a couple of touchdowns in thevictory. Noel has thrown a NEC-high 20 touchdowns this season., while rushing for six more.Defensively, Kellen Sperduto racked up 11 tackles, 1.5 sacks and 3 tackles for loss. Sacred Heartheld a 24-7 halftime lead and despite not scoring in the second half held on for the win. Sophomorewide receiver Moses Webb made one of the wildest plays in Sacred Heart history to closeout the first half. Despite losing a fumble on his way after a long reception, Webb never gave upon the play and forced back a Monmouth fumble before recovering it and returning the ball 51yards for the touchdown to give the Pioneers a 24-7 halftime lead.
Head Coaches... The Pioneers will be led by second year head coach Mark Nofri in 2013.Beginning his 20th season as a member of the Pioneers coaching staff, Nofri is the longesttenured coach in Sacred Heart program history. The Pioneers were 2-9 last season withNofri serving as the interim head coach. Nofri is also the long time linebackers coach for thePioneers, turning out several All-Conference and All-American linebackers including Jayson Jarrett '01, Kayode Mayowa '02, Craig Capurso '02, Jon Corto '06 and Chris Mandas '11. Jerry Schmidt is in his ninth season as the head coach at Duquesne University. Schmidt spent timeas an assistant for the Dukes from 1985-87 and 1992-99 before taking the head coaching job in2005. Upon his return to Duquesne, Schmidt led the Dukes to three-straight MAAC Championshipsbefore joining the NEC in 2011. He spent five years as the head coach at his almamater Westminster College prior to returning to Pittsburgh.
Series Notes... This will be the ninth meeting between the Pioneers and Dukes.
- Duquesne leads the series, 6-2 and have won four-straight
-The Pioneers are 2-3 in Pittsburgh but have never beaten the Dukes at home
- SHU beat Duquesne in the 2001 ECAC Bowl, 31-15, in Pittsburgh, capping off aperfect 11-0 season in 2001.
- Last fall, the Pioneers were beaten 35-3 in Pittsburgh. SHU mustered just 13 first downs and215 yards of offense. Duquesne linebacker Dorian Bell racked up four sacks, a forced fumbleand snagged an interception in the win for the Dukes.
Up Next…Sacred Heart will finish their 2013 regular season with a trip to Robert Morris totake on the Colonials.