Oct. 15, 2009
Sacred Heart Pioneers (1-4, 1-2 NEC) vs. Monmouth Hawks (2-3, 1-1 NEC)
Game #6 - Saturday, Oct. 17, 2009 - 1:00 pm - Fairfield, Conn. - Campus Field (4,000)
Setting the Scene... Sacred Heart plays host to the Monmouth Hawks on “SHU Family Weekend” Saturday afternoon on Campus Field. The Pioneers are fresh off their first win of 2009, a 29-7 victory over Saint Francis (PA) last weekend as they look to end a six-game losing streak against the Hawks. Monmouth comes in after falling to Wagner at home, 27-24.
The SHU - Monmouth Series... The Hawks lead the all-time series, 10-4. Monmouth has won six-straight meetings after a 19-7 win in West Long Branch last season. The Hawks are 6-1 against the Pioneers at Campus Field all-time. SHU took the first-ever meeting, 12-0, during the 1993 season on the road. From there, Monmouth won four in a row starting in 1994 and then picking up again in 1997 when the Pioneers entered the NEC. Sacred Heart won the meetings in 2000 (13-7), 2001 (44-14) and 2002 (32-14). Monmouth’s most lopsided win came in 1998, a 57-7 win at home and the Hawks have posted two shutouts in the series in 1997 (43-0) and 2006 (24-0). SHU’s biggest win came during their 2001 championship season, a 44-14 win at home that clinched the league title.
SHU in the NEC... The Pioneers are in their 12th season of competition in the Northeast Conference. SHU holds a 36-43 record in NEC competition since joining the league in 1998. The Pioneers won their only league championship during the 2001 campaign, finishing a perfect 8-0. SHU finished second to Robert Morris in 2000, going 7-1 in the league. The Pioneers are coming off their first winning season in conference action since 2002 after posting a 4-3 mark to finish tied for third.
Up Next... Sacred Heart will hit the road next weekend heading to Staten Island, NY to take on the Wagner Seahawks. Kickoff is slated for 1:00 pm.
The Head Coaches... Sacred Heart head coach Paul Gorham (New Hampshire ‘84) is in his sixth season on the Pioneer sideline. Gorham was named the school’s seventh head coach in June of 2004 and owns a 24-34 record in his six year career. Prior to becoming the Pioneer’s head coach, Gorham had stops at UMass, Brown, New Haven and his alma mater New Hampshire. Monmouth head coach Kevin Callahan (Rochester ‘77) is in his 17th season at the head of the Hawk football program and owns a 98-69 record at the school and overall. Callahan has led the Hawks to five Northeast Conference titles and the 2004 I-AA Mid-Major National Championship. Prior to taking over at Monmouth, Callahan had stops as an assistant at Colgate, Wagner, Syracuse and Albany.
Last Meeting with the Hawks... Monmouth running back David Sinisi scored two second half touchdowns to become the Northeast Conference’s all-time leading scorer leading the Hawks to a 19-7 win over visiting Sacred Heart last November 8th. The Pioneers led 7-6 at the half but managed just two first downs in the second half as they were held to a season-low 183 yards of total offense. The Pioneers kept Sinisi in check for much of the day, holding him to just 87 yards rushing. His two second half scores capped a pair of scoring drives that ate up just over a combined 13 minutes of play in the third and fourth quarters. Monmouth held the ball for 36:39 in the win and finished the day with 307 yards of total offense and got 227 through the air thanks to the arm of Brett Burke who completed 20-of-25 passes. SHU running back Evin Jones was held to a season-low 26 yards rushing on just 10 carries. Quarterback Dale Fink completed 19-of-33 on the day for 150 yards and a score, the lone touchdown of the day. The loss marked their lowest point total of the season. The second half was all Monmouth as the Hawk defense forced a trio of three and outs as the Pioneers went 0-for-four on third down and managed just 41 yards of total offense. Monmouth held the ball for 22:27 in the second half to just 7:33 for the Pioneer offense.
Last Time Out... Sacred Heart senior Brian Friedman pounded his way to a career-high 134 yards rushing and two touchdowns to lead the Pioneers past Saint Francis (PA) last Saturday. Friedman led a SHU attack that piled up a season-high 206 yards on the ground en route to snapping a four-game slide picking up their first win of 2009. The Pioneer defense held the Red Flash to just 180 yards of total offense, including minus three yards on the ground. Senior linebacker Chansler Davis led the way with nine tackles, three for losses including a pair of sacks in the win. SHU dropped Red Flash quarterback John Kelly four times on the afternoon and held their offense to just three of 16 on third down. The Red Flash served up the first points of the day on their first possession. After a three-and-out, the team lined up to punt but the snap sailed over punter Grant Price reach and out of the end zone, resulting in a 31-yard loss and a Pioneer safety. SHU added to the lead on their second possession of the day as quarterback Dale Fink finished off a six-play drive by hitting senior Steve Tedesco in the left corner of the end zone on second and goal from eight yards out. Sacred Heart’s running attack took over in the second quarter as Friedman and Garry Coles tacked on a pair of long touchdown runs to give the Pioneers a 22-0 lead. The second half turned into a battle of both team’s defenses before SHU put the game away with an 11-play drive that ended with Friedman barreling in from three-yards out for a 29-7 lead with 8:33 left. The SHU defense capped off the win with a goal-line stand on the next Red Flash possession, as Davis notched his second sack on first and goal to set the tone.
Friedman Named SHU / Enterprise Rent-A-Car Student-Athlete of the Week... Senior running back Brian Friedman was named the Sacred Heart / Enterprise Rent-A-Car Student Athlete of the Week for the week of October 8th through 11th. Friedman had a career day running the football to help lead the Pioneers to their first win in 2009, 29-7, over Saint Francis (PA). Friedman and the Pioneer running game had their best day of the season, piling up over 200 yards on the ground. Friedman carried the ball 14 times piling up 134 yards rushing a pair of touchdowns, all career-high marks, in the win. Friedman gave the Pioneers a 15-0 second quarter lead after taking a handoff and breaking off right tackle on the second play of the drive for a tackle-breaking 63 yard touchdown run. Friedman then put the stamp on the win by finishing off a 12-play drive midway through the fourth quarter with a three-yard scoring plunge.
Friedman Ignites Pioneer Ground Game... The Pioneers entered last week’s match-up with Saint Francis (PA) last in the NEC in rushing, averaging just 65.3 yards per game. Over the first four games of 2009, Sacred Heart produce 87 yards on the ground against Marist and Holy Cross in weeks one and two, 71 yards rushing at Albany and just nine yards on the ground at Central Connecticut. SHU found their rushing attack in a big way last Saturday against Saint Francis, pounding out 206 yards as a team led by senior Brian Friedman’s career-high 134 yards, as they notched their first win of the season. SHU averaged 4.9 yards per carry in the win and scored three times on the ground. The Pioneers will face the Hawks averaging 92.0 yards on the ground, ranked eighth in the NEC. Friedman has 204 yards on 33 carries this season, a 6.2 per carry average. Sophomore Garry Coles has carried the ball a team-high 59 times for 210 yards (3.6 yards per rush).
Chansler Davis Makes SHU Defensive Minded... Senior outside linebacker Chansler Davis posted a season-high nine tackles with two sacks as the SHU defense held Saint Francis (PA) to 180 total yards, -3 on the ground. Davis leads the team with five tackles for a loss and shares the team-lead in sacks with 2.5 on the year. The Pioneers have the fourth ranked run defense in the NEC, allowing 141.2 yards on the ground per game heading into the Monmouth game.
SHU Pioneers through the Air... The Pioneers passing game led by quarterback Dale Fink is ranked second in the NEC producing 217.4 yards through the air per game. Fink leads the NEC in passing yardage, averaging 193.8 yards per game. Senior Steve Tedesco leads a receiving corps that has five wide outs with 15 or more catches. Tedesco is the team’s top receiver with 25 catches, third among league leaders, for 338 yards and three scores. Rossi is second on the team with 19 catches for 177 yards, eighth in the NEC in catches per game. Junior Tony Patterson and sophomore Garry Coles have 17 catches each while r-freshman Jo Jo Jamiel has 14 grabs on the year.
Kicker Shake-Up... The Pioneer special teams switched up place kickers in last week’s win over Saint Francis (PA). Sophomore Matt Fisher missed his third extra point attempt on the season and the Pioneers went to freshman Jason Plescow who converted on both of his attempts. R-Freshman Rob Shepard, also a member of the SHU baseball team, took over the kick-off duties from fellow r-freshman Joe Kistler.
Too Many Turnovers... Midway through the 2009 schedule, the Pioneers rank last in the NEC in turnover margin at -6. Quarterback Dale Fink has thrown a league-high eight interceptions this season, three for touchdowns, and has had a pick in each game on the year. The Pioneers overcame a pair of turnovers in last week’s win over Saint Francis (PA). SHU has lost the turnover battle in all but one game this season. Last season, the Pioneers finished the year +1 in turnover margin.
SHU Offense Bouncing Back... Entering last weekend’s game against the Red Flash, the Pioneers had the league’s lowest scoring offense at 13.5 points per game but busted out for a season-high 29 points in a win. After averaging 29.1 points per game last season and 26.6 points in 2007, SHU is posting just 16.6 per outing at the halfway point this season, eighth in the NEC. For the first time since the 2006 season, the Pioneer offense was held without a touchdown (24-0 L at Monmouth) after settling for three field goals in a 22-0 loss at Albany.
No Flags Down... The Sacred Heart Pioneers have been the least penalized team in the NEC through five games this season. SHU has been flagged 32 times on the season, averaging a league-low 45.8 yards in penalties per game.