East Rutherford, NJ – Sophomore quarterback RJ Noel (Lowell, MA) was named ECAC Rookie of the Year Thursday night at the annual Eastern College Athletic Conference Banquet held at Metlife Stadium in New Jersey. In his first season under center, Noel led the Pioneers to the program's second Northeast Conference Championship and the Pioneers first-ever berth into the FCS Playoffs.
Noel was magnificent in his debut season in Fairfield, leading the Pioneers to a 10-2 regular season record and a FCS Playoff game against Fordham. The dual threat qb tossed for 2,203 yards and 23 touchdowns, while rushing for 689 more and eight touchdowns. His 23 scoring tosses and 2,892 total yards both ranked first in the NEC. Clutch all season long, the Massachusetts product threw for three touchdowns and rushed for one more in the Pioneers NEC championship-clinching win over Robert Morris in the final game of the regular season.
Noel's Rookie of the Year honor caps off an off-season of accolades and awards for a Sacred Heart football team that completed the greatest turnaround (plus eight wins) in the country last season. Noel was one of ten SHU players to achieve spots on the All-NEC team, earning first team honors, as well as winning Offensive Rookie of the Year. The redshirt was named NEC Rookie of the Week seven times during the regular season, including the final three weeks as SHU made its push to the FCS Playoffs.
Noel and the Pioneers are currently getting prepared for the annual Sacred Heart Red and White Spring game to be held on April 12th.