Football Upends #21 Bryant To Win NEC Championship

The Pioneers defeated #21 Bryant 14-7 to win their second consecutive NEC title.
The Pioneers defeated #21 Bryant 14-7 to win their second consecutive NEC title.

Tyle Dube caught a 23-yard touchdown pass with 2:30 to play in the fourth quarter to give the Sacred Heart University football team its second consecutive Northeast Conference crown. The touchdown pass gave the Pioneers a 14-7 victory over #21 Bryant University and clinched the league's automatic berth to the FCS Championship.

The 2014 FCS Tournament Selection is on Sunday, November 23 at 11 a.m. and will air on ESPNU. Sacred Heart improves to 9-2 on the season and 5-1 in league play, while the Bulldogs fall to 8-2 overall and 4-1 in NEC action.

The game-winning drive began at the Pioneers' nine-yard line and the score tied 7-7. RJ Noel opened the drive with a 20-yard strike to Jackson King and ended it with back-to-back completions to Dube. Sean Bell rushed for 29 yards on the drive that eclipsed 3:41 of the final quarter.

Bryant took over at midfield on the next possession and drove to the Pioneer 31 yard line over the first two plays, but were backed up 15 yards on a pass interference call.  The second-and-17 play went for 10 yards, before Dylan Ackerson knocked down the third down pass attempt of Dalton Easton to set up fourth down. Easton completed the pass to Chad Ward, but J.D. Roussel made the stop to turn the Bulldogs over on downs. 

Sacred Heart was able to take 69 seconds off of the clock with its next possession, but was forced to punt, giving Bryant the ball with 11 seconds remaining.  Easton completed a pass to Ricardo McCray, but Troy Moore and John Snee made the tackle to set off the Pioneer celebration.

James Rentz had two blocked field goals in the game to put the Pioneers in the position to win the game late in the fourth quarter.  The Bulldogs took the opening drive to the SHU two-yard line, where Dennis Regan tackled Ricardo Mccray for a loss of two on first down.  Easton had two incomplete passes on second and third down, to set up the 21-yard field goal attempt that Rentz blocked. 

Sacred Heart got on the board first with an 11-play, 63-yard drive that started in the first-quarter and concluded in the second.  The score came on when Noel found Pat Casey in the end zone from 14-yards out for the 7-0 advantage. Bryant answered two drives later, with a four-play, 32-yard drive that followed a SHU penalty on a punt.  Mccray ended the drive with a five-yard run to knot the score with 9:27 to play in the half.

Rentz's second blocked kick of the game kept the score tied heading into the intermission.  Bryant took over on the SHU 47 with 4:16 to play in the half. The Bulldogs ran eight plays and got to the eight yard line and attempted a 25-yard field goal that Rentz blocked to keep the score tied at the break.

Dube had his second consecutive 100-yard receiving game, catching seven passes for 109 yards and a touchdown.  Noel completed 16 of 30 passes on the afternoon for 180 yards and two touchdowns, while also rushing for 48 yards. Sean Bell led the Pioneers rushing attack with 71 yards on 16 carries.

The Sacred Heart defense held Bryant to 275 yards, with only 62 coming on the ground in the game. The Pioneers accumulated 13 tackles for loss with three sacks. Gordon Hill finished with 13 tackles, 2.5 for a loss, to lead the team.  Preston Sanford and Dennis Regan both had interceptions in the game and had eight and seven tackles respectively.

The first round of the FCS Championship will be played November 29.

Mark Nofri Head Coach Q&A
August 12, 2014 Mark Nofri Head Coach Q&A