Oct. 29, 2009
Sacred Heart Pioneers (1-6, 1-4 NEC) vs. Robert Morris Colonials (1-6, 1-3 NEC)
Game #8 - Saturday, Oct. 31, 2009 - 12:00 pm - Moon Township, PA - Joe Walton Staduim (3,000)
Setting the Scene... The Sacred Heart Pioneers will wrap up the road portion of the 2009 schedule with a trip to western Pennsylvania to take on the Robert Morris Colonials in a “Halloween” Northeast Conference match-up. For the second-straight week the Pioneers will take on a team coming off their bye week. SHU is looking to bounce back after back to back losses giving up over 40 points. The Colonials notched their first win of 2009 two weeks ago shuting out Saint Francis (PA), 28-0.
The SHU - Robert Morris Series... Sacred Heart leads the all-time series, 6-5, after a 31-28 win at home last fall. Robert Morris took the first-ever meeting, 44-7, in 1998 and followed that with wins in 1999, 48-0, and 2000, 31-20. SHU ripped off five-straight in the series from 2001 through 2005. The Colonials ended the streak in 2006 with a 41-21 win on Campus Field and made it two-straight with a 41-31 win at home in the 2007 season finale. The Pioneers are 3-2 at home against Robert Morris and 3-3 in Moon Township.
SHU in the NEC... The Pioneers are in their 12th season of competition in the Northeast Conference. SHU holds a 36-45 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... The Pioneers return home for the final two games of 2009 starting next Saturday, November 7th playing host to new NEC memeber Bryant University. The Pioneers lead the all-time series, 2-0, but the two schools haven’t met since the 2000 season, a 19-13 SHU victory.
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 24-36 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. Robert Morris head coach Joe Walton (Pittsburgh ‘57) became the program’s first head coach in July of 1993 and has led the Colonial program to a 91-67-1 record. Under Walton’s directions, Robert Morris has claimed five Northeast Conference titles and a pair of Mid-Major National Championships as well as a pair of ECAC Classic wins in 1996 and 1997. Walton spent seven seasons playing in the NFL for the Washington Redskins and New York Giants. He was the head coach of the New York Jets from 1983 through 1989.
Last Meeting with the Colonials... The Pioneers got 187 yards rushing from senior Evin Jones on the way to a 31-28 win over Robert Morris on Campus Field last October 4, 2008. Quarterback Dale Fink threw for a pair of touchdowns and wide receiver Steve Tedesco became Sacred Heart’s all-time leader in career touchdown receptions in the win. On the defensive side, the Pioneers gave up 441 yards of offense but once again came up with big turnovers, recovering a fumble and getting an interception from cornerback Andre Isla. SHU took a 31-21 with 5:52 left, thanks to a Joe Schroeder field goal capping a 10-play drive. The Colonials, needing a score to stay in it, and after converting a fourth and eight on the SHU 46-yard line, running back Karey Murray scored from five yards out with 3:42 to go. The Colonials, with one timeout remaining, elected to kickoff deep, and from there, Jones took over, ripping off a 30-yard run on a third-and-one to allow the Pioneers to run out the clock for the win. Fink finished the game 17-of-25 for 143 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. Jones carried the ball a career-high 33 times in the win, finishing with 187 yards, his third 100-yard day rushing on the year. In addition to his interception, Isla posted a team-high nine tackles. For the Colonials, quarterback Erik Cwalinski threw for 260 yards, completing 19-of-31 with two scores and an interception. Running back Myles Russ finished with 126 yards on 16 carries, a 7.9 average per rush.
Last Time Out... The Sacred Heart Pioneers got 118 yards rushing from senior Brian Friedman and 106 yards receiving from senior Steve Tedesco but were held to just a field goal in the second half falling to Wagner College, 49-28, last Saturday. The two teams combined for 902 yards of offense but it was the Seahawks who outscored the Pioneers 28-3 in the second half en route to the win. The Pioneers took advantage of three Wagner turnovers in a fast paced first half that didn’t feature a punt by either team. SHU piled up 340 of their 443 yards of offense over the first two quarters led by Friedman who carried the Pioneers with 98 of his yards coming in the first half. The second half belonged to the Seahawks as they put 28 points on the board and held the Pioneer offense in check, limiting them to one-of-five on third down and 103 total yards. The turning point of the game came at 28-28, after the Pioneers turned in a goal line stand on Wagner’s two-yard line. On just the second play of their ensuing drive, SHU’s Dale Fink rolled to his right and looked for tight end Chris Rapp but safety Chaz Legette read the play and came up with the interception, returning it 21-yards for six to swing the momentum. The Seahawks left no doubt in the fourth quarter as they tacked on two more scores to seal away the win. Wagner rumbled their way to 302 yards and five scores on the ground in the win. Martinez finished with 127 yards and Doscher had 123 yards on the ground to lead the way. In addition to Friedman’s 118 yards rushing, Garry Coles tacked on 93 yards on seven carries.
Steve Tedesco, the NEC’s Top-Receiver... Senior wide receiver Steve Tedesco is again at the top of the NEC receiver rankings. The two-time All-NEC wideout leads the conference with 45 catches (6.43 cpg) for 612 yards (87.4 ypg) and five touchdowns. The senior receiver had nine catches for 106 yards and extended his streak to four-straight games with a touchdown catch last Saturday at Wagner. Tedesco has three 100-yard receiving games this season and a pair of 11 catch games as well. He pulled down 11 balls for a season-high 168 yards and a score against Monmouth and also caught 11 passes earlier this season at Holy Cross.
SHU Pioneers through the Air... The Pioneers passing game led by quarterback Dale Fink is ranked first in the NEC producing 235.0 yards through the air per game. Fink leads the NEC in passing yardage, averaging 218.1 yards per game. He has completed a league-best 264 passes and has a NEC-high 1,527 yards through the air on his ledger. Senior Steve Tedesco leads a receiving corps that has six players with double digit catches, four with 20 or more grabs on the season. Tedesco is the team’s top receiver with 45 catches while sophomore Rich Rossi is second on the team with 28 catches for 243 yards. Rossi surpassed his rookie total of 22 catches a year ago and currently ranks fifth in the NEC in catches per game (4.00). Sophomore Garry Coles has 26 catches out of the backfield, a new career-high mark for the tailback, two for touchdowns. Junior Tony Patterson has 24 receptions for 254 yards, averaging 10.6 yards per catch.
Freshman Plescow Claims Kicking Job... Freshman Jason Plescow took hold of the Pioneer kicking job three games ago and has solidified himself in the role. Plescow is five-of-five on field goal attempts this season, hitting from 32, 35 and 37 yards in last weekend’s game at Wagner. Against Monmouth, Plescow buried his first two career field goal attempts, hitting from 25 and 22 yards.
Ground Game Hits its Stride Against the Seahawks... The Pioneers piled up a season-best 258 yards rushing in last week’s loss at Wagner. SHU got 118 yards from senior Brian Friedman and 93 yards on just seven carries from sophomore Garry Coles on the day. The duo has nearly identical numbers this season. Friedman has 356 yards on 61 carries (5.8 ypc) while Coles has gained 351 yards on 71 carries (4.9 ypc). Both have three rushing scores on the year. Defensive Struggles... In back-to-back weeks, the Pioneers have given up over 40 points and 450 yards of offense in losses to Monmouth and Wagner as they head to Robert Morris. SHU allowed a season-high 513 yards, 330 through the air, to Monmouth in a 48-20 loss. Last week, the Seahawks scored 49 points, 28 in the second half, as they racked up 459 yards. SHU allowed a season-high 302 yards rushing to Wagner in the loss. The Pioneers are ranked seventh in rush defense (170.1) and last in scoring defense (32.4).
Too Many Turnovers... The Pioneers rank eighth in the NEC in turnover margin at -4 on the year. Quarterback Dale Fink is leads the NEC with 10 interceptions this season, four have gone for touchdowns. The Pioneers are 0-3 in games where they won the turnover battle and 1-3 in games where they have more or the same number of turnovers as their opponents. Last season, the Pioneers finished the year +1 in turnover margin. SHU’s Offensive Output... Sacred Heart ranks sixth in the NEC in scoring offense this season, averaging 18.7 points per game. The Pioneers averaged 29.1 points per game last season and 26.6 points in 2007, ranking second and third in the NEC those seasons. 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 earlier in the season.
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 52 tackles on the season, ranking 10th among league leaders (7.4 per game).
Gary Coles, an All-Purpose Kind of Guy... Sophomore running back Garry Coles ranks second in the NEC in all-purpose yards. Coles has 351 yards rushing and 188 yards receiving out of the backfield while racking up 349 yards on kickoff returns and 29 yards returning punts. The sophomore back is averaging 131.0 all-purpose yards per game, second to Monmouth’s David Sinisi (154.1). xxxxxxxxxxx