Football Dominates Bucknell, 30-10, in Front of Record-Breaking Home Opener Crowd

Football Dominates Bucknell, 30-10, in Front of Record-Breaking Home Opener Crowd

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – Playing in front of a record-breaking crowd of 4,187, the most Sacred Heart football has ever drawn for a home opener, the Pioneers dominated the visiting Bucknell Bison to the tone of a 30-10 decision on Saturday night from Campus Field. Sacred Heart wins its eight consecutive home opener under head coach Mark Nofri and bounce back in a big way following a season-opening defeat at Maine to even their record at 1-1. Bucknell drops to 0-2 with the loss.

The outcome was decided in the second quarter as the Pioneers exploded for 23 of their 30 total points scored on the evening coming in the quarter. Meanwhile, the SHU defense pitched a clinic in the first half, allowing just 75 total yards and three points from the Bison to give a decisive 23-3 edge to the Pioneers at the half.

SHU went over 500 yards on offense, 191 of which came on the ground while 316 came through the air. Fifth-year QB Logan Marchi finished 21-for-37 for 316 yards, three TDs and no interceptions. This marked the third time in Marchi's collegiate career he has gone for 300+ yards in a game, falling just shy of his career-high 356-yard performance against UConn as a sophomore with Temple in 2017. In his first 66 career passing attempts as a Pioneer, Marchi has still yet to throw an interception.

Sophomore RB Julius Chestnut carried the load on the ground, rushing a career-best 21 times for 162 yards (7.7 yards per carry) and three total TDs. Coming into this game with just three career receptions, Chestnut caught three passes for 25 yards, two of which went for touchdowns. Chestnut broke the defensive struggle open midway through the second quarter with a career-long 86-yard touchdown that made it 10-3 SHU.

The defense carried the Pioneers throughout the early stages of the game before the offense came alive. Allowing just 75 total yards in the first half (just over two yards per play), SHU's defense came up with three sacks and two interceptions to go along with nine pass breakups. The Pioneers' defensive captains in the backfield CB Shawn Ramcheran and SS Noah Provenzano came up with the interceptions late in the fourth quarter to ice the game away late for SHU.

First Quarter (Tied 0-0)

  • Both defenses dominated the period as neither offense managed any points for the first 17+ minutes of play
  • First-year LB Myles Talley came up with the first big play of the game, registering his first career sack on a third-and-long to force a Bucknell punt
  • First-year WR Tyrese Chambers hauled in a 24-yard reception to put SHU into Bucknell's territory, followed by a 22-yard run up the lefthand side for Chestnut to put the Pioneers into the red zone for the first time
  • However, the drive would stall and K Dane Borges missed from 38 yards out as the game remained scoreless
  • Senior LB Aaron Thompson put a cap on the quarter with a sack on third-and-six for Bucknell, the first sack of Thompson's career

Second Quarter (23-3 SHU)

  • SHU took completed control of the game in the frame, outscoring the Bison 23-3 and taking a 20-point lead into halftime
  • An eight-play, 55-yard drive that took only 2:19 led to the first points of the evening as sophomore K Noah Gettman nailed a 32-yard attempt that made it 3-0 Pioneers with 12:30 left in the quarter
  • Bucknell answered with an impressive 12-play, 53-yard drive that resulted in an Ethan Torres 31-yard field goal to even the score at 3-3
  • On the ensuing SHU drive, the Pioneers were backed up at their own 14-yard-line on a 2nd-and-27 play, Chestnut scampered 86-yards, untouched, all the way to the end zone for a huge touchdown that got the record home crowd on its feet and made it 10-3 Pioneers
  • Another huge momentum-shift occurred as Borges pooched a kick to the Bucknell 33-yard-line, recovered by a diving Talley to give the Pioneers possession again coming off the lengthy Chestnut TD run
  • Just two plays later, Marchi spinned a 28-yard bomb to Chambers who shrugged off a defensive pass interference call to catch his first career TD and make it 17-3 SHU in a span of just 23 seconds
  • Bucknell tried to reclaim momentum with an 11-play drive over a span of just under five minutes, only to see the drive stall at the 36-yard-line of SHU as CB Lamar Evans batted away a 4th-and-6 pass
  • With just 1:22 remaining in the quarter, SHU was cautious at the start of the drive, picking up 20 yards over three plays before a false start penalty set them back a bit
  • As time ticked down, Marchi unleashed a deep ball down the left sideline that found its way into the arms of senior WR RJ Trimble-Edwards and set the Pioneers up at the Bucknell 12-yard-line
  • With a 2nd-and-10 and just seven seconds left in the first half, the Pioneers made the most of their opportunity as Marchi found Chestnut wide open in the flat as the back scampered in for an easy pitch-and-catch score to give SHU a 20-point halftime advantage

Third Quarter (23-10 SHU)

  • Bucknell's offense came alive to start the second half as the Bison connected for a 50-yard strike through the air on their second drive of the quarter to cut the margin down to a two-score game
  • After forcing another SHU three-and-out, Bucknell had a great chance to close the gap even further but saw Dominic Lyles drop a pass on third down and the Bison were forced to punt
  • The SHU ground game couldn't get going for much of the quarter as most of the Pioneers' yards came through the air as Marchi found Brantley (22 yards), Troy Holland (25 yards) and Chambers (37 yards) for deep connections at times in the third
  • Bucknell found some rhythm on offense again late in the quarter as the Bison drove down the field, 14 plays for 66 yards, having the ball as deep as the SHU 10-yard-line but the Pioneer defense came up with a big stop when-needed
  • Junior DB Salaam Horne penetrated the Bucknell front and came up with a two-yard TFL while senior DT Omar Fraser later stopped the Bison rushing attempt at the 5-yard-line on a 3rd-and-goal play
  • Trailing 13 points and facing 4th-and-goal from the 5-yard-line, Bucknell chose to kick the field goal which sailed wide right as the 14-play drive came up empty for the Bison

Fourth Quarter (30-10 SHU)

  • A huge blow to suffer late in the quarter, Bucknell couldn't recover in time as SHU's offense drove down the field again as Marchi passed for 69 of the 73 total yards the Pioneers accumulated over seven plays, resuling in a nine-year TD pass to Chestnut on 3rd-and-goal to make it a 20-point game
  • Ramcheran helped put the game away for good with his first career interception as the senior cornerback made an impressive leaping play on a deep ball thrown at the far sideline as SHU reclaimed possession with a 20-point lead and just 6:21 remaining
  • With the contest in-hand, Provenzano iced the game away with his third career INT, snagging a ball thrown up for grabs in the end zone to send the SHU faithful home happy with a victory for the home team

NOTES

  • Coming off a game in which the Pioneers passed for just 104 yards on 31 attempts, Marchi ignited the fanbase with a stellar performance, going 21-for-37 (57 percent) on his attempts for 316 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions
  • This marked the first time a SHU QB has throw for 300+ yards since Kevin Duke went for 374 in a win at CCSU on Oct. 20, 2018 (six games ago)
  • SHU passed for 300+ yards just twice last season and three times in 2017, making this just the sixth 300+ yard passing game for the Pioneers across the team's last 24 contests
  • Chestnut starred taking on a larger workload, rushing a career-high 21 times for 162 yards and three total TDs (one rushing, two receiving)
  • The 162-yard performance for Chestnut fell just two yards shy of his career-high 164-yard outing from last season's 49-26 home win over Bryant (Oct. 27, 2018)
  • The sophomore RB Chestnut came in with just three career receptions as he doubled his career total with three catches on the day for 25 yards and two receiving TDs
  • A balanced attack through the air saw Marchi find eight different players who tallied at least one reception on the evening
  • Brantley led the way with a career-high six receptions for 96 yards
  • Chambers came up with a couple highlight-reel catches as the first-year finished with four receptions for 94 yards and his first career TD
  • Chestnut had three catches while WR Rob DiNota, WR Kezio Snelling and TE Del Driscoll each had two catches for the SHU offense
  • Sophomore LB DeAndre Byrd was everywhere for a SHU defense that limited Bucknell to just 10 points on the evening as he finished with a team-high eight tackles while adding half a sack, one TFL and one forced fumble
  • Sophomore DE Kevin Peprah added six total tackles and one TFL
  • Senior LB Pat Lukert and senior DT Omar Fraser came up with five tackles apiece
  • First-year LB Myles Talley was all over the field, registering four tackles, his first career sack and leading the team with 1.5 TFL  
  • Senior DE Chris Agyemang and junior CB Lamar Evans tied for the team-lead with two pass breakups each
  • As a team, SHU registered three tackles, seven TFL, nine pass breakups and 10 QB hurries on the evening to control the action throughout
  • This victory moves SHU to 8-0 in home openers under HC Mark Nofri, outscoring the opposition by an average margin of +26.9 in the eight-game win streak
  • HC Mark Nofri picked up his 45th career victory, moving to 45-37 (.549) all-time at the helm for the Pioneers
  • Playing in front of a record crowd for a home opener, the announced official attendance of 4,187 is 30 higher than the Pioneers' previous-highest home opening crowd of 4,157, achieved in the 2018 opener against Lafayette (Sept. 1, 2018)

NEXT GAME

The final non-conference tune-up prior to the start of Northeast Conference play looms for SHU as the Pioneers trek to Easton, Pennsylvania for a showdown at Lafayette on Saturday, September 14 at 12:30 PM from Fisher Stadium. The Pioneers are 4-1 all-time against the Leopards and have won four straight in the all-time series.