Oct. 22, 2009
Sacred Heart Pioneers (1-5, 1-3 NEC) vs. Wagner Seahawks (3-3, 2-1 NEC)
Game #7 - Saturday, Oct. 24, 2009 - 1:00 pm Staten Island, N.Y. - Wagner Stadium (3,300)
Setting the Scene... Sacred Heart is back on the road this week heading to Staten Island to face the Wagner Seahawks. The Pioneers are looking to rebound from a 42-20 loss at home to Monmouth last weekend. The Pioneers got a record setting day from quarterback Dale Fink who completed 36-of-54 passes for 373 yards, all new school marks, in the loss. The Seahawks are back in action after beating the Hawks, 27-24, on the road two weeks ago. Wagner is 2-1 in the NEC and boasts the league’s top-scoring offense at 32.7 ppg.
The SHU - Wagner Series... The Pioneers lead the all-time series, 6-5 after a 42-20 win at home on Halloween last fall. The two schools have met each season since 1998, Sacred Heart’s first year in the Northeast Conference. The Seahawks took the first meeting in 1998, 40-8, in Fairfield, in what was also SHU’s first-ever NEC game. The Pioneers won three-straight in the series from 2000 through 2002. SHU is 5-1 at home against Wagner and 1-4 in Staten Island. The two teams have alternated wins each year since the 2002 season, each winning on their home field. The two teams have twice played overtime games, both Sacred Heart wins, 10-7 in 2002 and 30-24 in 2004.
SHU in the NEC... The Pioneers are in their 12th season of competition in the Northeast Conference. SHU holds a 36-44 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... SHU will play their final road game of the season next weekend heading out to Robert Morris to face the Colonials in a Halloween match-up.
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 24-35 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. Wagner head coach and athletic director Walt Hameline (Brockport ‘75) is in his 29th season at the head of the Seahawk program and owns a 194-108-2 record at the school and overall. Hameline took over the reins of the Wagner program in 1981 and has become the school’s all-time winningest head coach. One of the highlights of his career was a 19-3 win over Dayton in the Amos Alonzo Stagg Bow for the 1987 NCAA Division III National Championship.
Last Meeting with the Seahawks... Sacred Heart senior running back Evin Jones rumbled his way to 170 yards and a touchdown as the Pioneers posted their eighth win on the year, 42-20 win over Wagner last season on Halloween night. SHU quarterback Dale Fink completed 19-of-31 passes for four touchdowns in the win. For the first time last season the Pioneers came up short in the turnover battle, turning it over three times on a pair of Fink interceptions and a fumble, but Wagner’s one miscue was the difference maker in a Sacred Heart victory. Trailing 28-20, Wagner quarterback Adam Farnsworth scrambled looking to make a play down field but missed his target, seeing his errant pass into the hands of Pioneer senior corner Rishard Brown who returned it 51-yards for six and SHU never looked back. The Pioneers, who held the advantage in time of possession (31:01) converted a remarkable 12 of 14 on third down and scored touchdowns on all five of their red zone possessions. SHU held a slight edge in total yards, out gaining Wagner 303 to 299.
Last Time Out... Sacred Heart quarterback Dale Fink completed 36-of-54 passes for 373 yards, all new school records, but the Monmouth Hawks had 513 yards of total offense en route to a 42-20 win last Saturday afternoon. Fink threw a pair of touchdown passes in a loss that dropped the Pioneers to 1-5 overall and 1-3 in NEC play. The Hawks piled up over 500 yards of offense on just 58 total plays, averaging 8.8 yards per play in the win. Monmouth got big offense days from senior running back David Sinisi and sophomore quarterback Kyle Frazier. Sinisi rumbled his way to 135 yards and two scores on 20 carries and added a third touchdown on a 50-yard screen pass from Frazier. The sophomore signal caller threw for 322 yards and four scores while completing 18-of-24 passes. SHU wide receiver Steve Tedesco finished the day with 11 catches for a season high 168 yards, his second game this season hauling in 11 passes (11 - 100 yds vs. Holy Cross). As a team, SHU had a season-high 26 first downs and 454 yards of offense.
QB Fink Posts Career Numbers... Sophomore Dale Fink completed 36-of-54 passes for 373 yards, all new school records, in last Saturday’s loss to the Monmouth Hawks. Fink threw a pair of touchdown passes down the stretch in the second half, hitting Garry Coles from seven-yards out in the back of the end zone and Steve Tedesco on a 25-yard strike to the back left corner. Fink’s 36 completions breaks the school record of 30 he tied twice this year (vs. Marist & Holy Cross) and shared with Tyler Arciaga (Stony Brook 10/21/06). His 54 pass attempts break his own record of 53 he set earlier this season at Holy Cross. His 373 passing yard breaks the mark held by Arciaga, who threw for 323 against Central Connecticut State (11/5/05). It was just the sixth time in school history a quarterback has thrown for over 300 yards. The Pioneers were 5-0 in games when a quarterback throw for 300 yards before last week’s loss.
RB Brian Friedman Career Rushing Day... Senior running back Brian 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.
Tedesco Tops Among NEC Wideouts... Senior wide receiver Steve Tedesco is again at the top of the NEC receiver rankings. Tedesco is coming of his second 11 catch game this season in last week’s loss to Monmouth. He finished with 11 grabs for a season-high 168 yards and a score. He also caught 11 passes earlier this season at Holy Cross, falling one shy of his career-high and school record for catches in a game. On the year, Tedesco has 36 catches for 503 yards, a 14.1 per catch average, all tops among NEC receivers.
SHU Pioneers through the Air... The Pioneers passing game led by quarterback Dale Fink is ranked first in the NEC producing 243.3 yards through the air per game. Fink leads the NEC in passing yardage, averaging 223.7 yards per game. He has completed a league-best 227 passes and has a NEC-high 1,342 yards through the air on his ledger. His seven scoring throws ties of the league lead. 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 36 catches. Sophomore Rich Rossi is second on the team with 24 catches for 216 yards, eighth in the NEC in catches per game. Junior Tony Patterson and sophomore Garry Coles have 23 and 22 catches, respectively, while r-freshman Jo Jo Jamiel has 17 grabs on the year.
Kicker Shake-Up... The Pioneers made the move from sophomore Matt Fisher, who was four-of-seven on extra point attempts this season, to freshman Jason Plescow in the kicking game. Against Monmouth, Plescow buried his first two career field goal attempts, hitting from 25 and 22 yards. R-Freshman Rob Shepard, also a member of the SHU baseball team, and fellow r-freshman Joe Kistler have handled the kick-off duties this season.
Pioneer Still Searching for their Ground Game... The Pioneers head to Wagner Saturday ranked eighth in the NEC in rushing, averaging 90.2 yards per game. SHU and Saint Francis (PA) are the only two teams averaging less the 100 yards rushing per game on the season. In five of the six games this season, the Pioneers have been held under the century mark with the lone exception coming against the Red Flash. The Pioneers pounded out 206 yards as a team in their lone win of the season, 29-7 over the Saint Francis (PA). SHU is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry as a team and with five scores on the ground. Sophomore Garry Coles leads the team with 258 yards on 64 carries (4.0) with senior Brian Friedman rushing for 238 yards on 45 carries (5.3). The Pioneers will face the league’s worst run defense this week in Wagner, who is giving up 218.0 yards per game on the ground.
Too Many Turnovers... Six games into the 2009 schedule, the Pioneers rank last in the NEC in turnover margin at -5. Quarterback Dale Fink is tied for the league lead with eight interceptions this season, three for touchdowns, and had a pick in each of the first five games. SHU has lost the turnover battle each game with the exception of the losses to Marist and Monmouth. Last season, the Pioneers finished the year +1 in turnover margin.
SHU Offense Bouncing Back... Entering the game against Saint Francis (PA) two weeks ago, 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 that win. SHU is coming off a 20-point effort in last week’s loss where they posted a season-best 26 first downs. The Pioneers averaged 29.1 points per game last season and 26.6 points in 2007 and this week, the Pioneers are ranked seventh in the league averaging 17.2 ppg. 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.
Defensive Leader Chris Mandas in the Middle... Sophomore inside linebacker Chris Mandas has become the Pioneers leader on defense and is leading the team in tackles. Mandas has 45 tackles on the season, ranking 11th among league leaders (7.5 per game).
CB McIntosh on the Break Up... Sophomore cornerback Titus McIntosh is leading the NEC in pass break ups this season. McIntosh has eight passes defended on the year and is second on the club with 44 tackles (7.3 per game). He posted a season-high three break-ups in the Holy Cross game. xxxxxxxxxxxxx