Football Charges Past Lehigh in Fourth Quarter of 13-6 Senior Day Victory

Football Charges Past Lehigh in Fourth Quarter of 13-6 Senior Day Victory

FAIRFIELD, Conn. – In a game dominated by both defenses, the Sacred Heart football team trailed 6-0 heading into the fourth quarter but pulled out a 13-6 victory behind a pair of Julius Chestnut touchdowns and several more key defensive plays on Saturday afternoon from Campus Field. The Pioneers' fourth straight win, including their third over a Patriot League opponent this season, moves SHU to 7-4 on the season while Lehigh falls to 4-6 in 2019.

Facing Lehigh for the first time, the Pioneers put up a dominating defensive outing, limiting the Lehigh QB Alec Beesmer to 8-for-29 throwing while SHU came up with a season-high five sacks and 12 tackles-for-loss, holding the Mountain Hawks without a touchdown in the contest. One game removed from matching a school record with eight takeaways last week against Wagner, the SHU defense relied on an all-around approach as 10 Pioneers had at least 0.5 TFL while five had at least 0.5 sack. Seniors Chris Agyemang and RJ Trimble-Edwards each tallied 1.5 sacks and 2.5 TFL as the duo led the way for the Pioneer defense in the final home game of the season for SHU.

RB Julius Chestnut keyed the win for the Pioneers as the workhouse back carried 25 times for 130 yards and 2 TD, both of which were scored in the fourth quarter in the come-from-behind victory. Chestnut continues his incredible 2019 campaign as he leads FCS in rushing with 1,354 and rushing yards per game (123.1) through 11 games on the season. Now with 12 total TD (10 rushing, two receiving) on the season, Chestnut made history in the win, becoming the first Pioneer underclassman in school history to reach the 2,000 career rushing yard milestone. Through 22 career games, Chestnut has 2,067 rushing yards to go along with 19 TD.

1st Quarter (0-0 Tie)

  • Starting for the second straight game, QB Marquez McCray drove the Pioneers into Lehigh territory on the first drive of the game but stalled at the 34-yard line, forcing a Noah Gettman punt that landed at the Mountain Hawks' 7-yard line
  • A lengthy 14-play, 74-yard drive for Lehigh followed that went into the red zone as the Mountain Hawks had a 1st-and-goal from the SHU 6-yard line
  • Despite holding the ball for over eight consecutive minutes, Lehigh couldn't capitalize as Agyemang broke loose in the backfield on 1st down and Trimble-Edwards later combined with LB Pat Lukert on 3rd down sack that put the Mountain Hawks outside of field goal range

2nd Quarter (3-0 Lehigh)

  • Lehigh's next possession saw the Mountain Hawks drive down to the SHU 1-yard line but once again, the Pioneers came up huge as three straight plunges from Lehigh RB Rashawn Allen couldn't find the end zone as Austin Henning came on for a 20-yard FG
  • Each team traded possessions for the remainder of the half as both defenses dominated the second quarter, with just two of seven combined drive crossing into the opponent's territory for both teams

3rd Quarter (6-0 Lehigh)

  • The Mountain Hawks added another field goal as Lehigh drove 43 yards down the field, setting up a 35-yard Henning FG to put Lehigh ahead 6-0
  •  A sustained drive for the Pioneers finally came towards the end of the third quarter as the Pioneers converted a pair of 3rd downs, the first coming on a 21-yard McCray completion to WR Naseim Brantley followed by a 27-yard Chestnut run on 3rd-and-2 that set the Pioneers up in the red zone

4th Quarter (13-6 SHU)

  • Continuing the successful SHU drive at the end of the third, Chestnut took an off-tackle carry nine yards into the end zone and the Pioneers took their first lead of the game at 7-6
  • Playing with a lead for the first time today, the Pioneers pined their ears back on defense and got after the QB as Agyemang and Trimble-Edwards combined for back-to-back sacks with Lehigh threatening deep in SHU territory
  • Another huge play on defense came with under five minutes to play on a 3rd-and-5 play as Agyemang broke free once again, forcing a strip sack which was recovered by LB Mike Wilen and returned deep into Lehigh territory
  • Wilen's recovery ended in a fumble, however, as Lehigh took back control of the ball with 2:42 remaining at their own 6-yard line
  • DE Phil Sampson made a play this time, sacking Beesmer on 3rd down to give the ball back to SHU with just 2:12 remaining
  • Attempting to ice the game away with the running game, McCray handed off to Chestnut who made the play of the game, breaking several tackles before breaking free in the secondary to take it 40 yards all the way to the end zone that put SHU ahead 13-6
  • Still with a chance to tie the score, Lehigh took over and crossed into SHU territory in the final minute but a pair of pressures from Trimble-Edwards and DE Kevin Peprah led to errant Beesmer throws before CB Shawn Ramcheran broke up the game-ending 4th-down throw to seal the Senior Day win for the Pioneers

NOTES

  • Over the last two games combined, the SHU defense has allowed just 13 points (6.5 per game) including just one touchdown for the opposition to go along with nine takeaways (4 INT, 5 FR)
  • SS Noah Provenzano was all over the field for SHU, finishing with a team-high 10 tackles and one pass breakup as this marked his third double-digit tackle performance of his career
  • The five sacks for the SHU defense sets a new season-high and is the most in a single-game for the Pioneers since the 2018 season finale against Saint Francis U on Nov. 17
  • This marks the first time the Pioneer defense hasn't allowed a touchdown in a game since defeating Lafayette 35-6 on Sept. 1, 2018 (20 games ago)
  • Allowing just 13 combined points over the last two games, this marks the fewest points the SHU defense has allowed in consecutive games since allowing six points over a two-game stretch in the 2002 season
  • Chestnut rushed for 100+ yards for the third straight game as he continues to produce at a historic rate for the Pioneers as he has eight 100+ yard performances on the season compared to three in his 2018 NEC Rookie of the Year campaign
  • With one game still to go, Chestnut has the third-highest single-season rushing total in school history as he trials Keshaudas Spence's 2013 season total (1669 yards) and Jordan Meachum's 2018 campaign (1396 yards)
  • Chestnut stands a chance to break the all-time single-season rushing carry record at SHU as he has 263 carries on the season and only has Spence's 2013 season total of 281 to beat for first place on the all-time SHU record list
  • Chestnut becomes the ninth Pioneer in program history to rush for 10+ TDs in a single-season
  • McCray moves to 2-0 as a starter, filling in for the injured QB Logan Marchi, as he went 10-for-18 throwing for 86 yards while adding 61 yards rushing on 15 carries
  • SHU moves to 5-0 on the season in games where the Pioneers outgain their opponent (275-259 today)
  • This is the first victory of 2019 wherein SHU scored less than 20 points (0-3 previously) while the Pioneers are 5-0 this season in games when the Pioneers allow less than 20 points

NEXT GAME

The season comes to an end next week as SHU travels all the way to Robert Morris on Saturday, November 23 for a Noon kickoff in the 2019 finale. The Colonials (6-5, 5-1 NEC) are looking for a split of the NEC Regular Season title with CCSU.