Football’s Last-Minute Comeback Falls Short in 16-14 Loss at Robert Morris

Football’s Last-Minute Comeback Falls Short in 16-14 Loss at Robert Morris

MOON TOWNSHIP, Pa. – Staging a comeback bid trailing by two late in the fourth quarter, the Sacred Heart football team came feet away from victory as a potential game-winning field goal attempt was booted just wide left which sealed a 16-14 win for Robert Morris on Saturday afternoon from Joe Walton Stadium. The thrilling end to the season completes the 2019 campaign for both teams as SHU finishes 7-5 (4-3 NEC) overall while the Colonials move to 7-5 (6-1 NEC) with today's result.

The extended drive late in the fourth quarter with SHU trailing 16-14 went 58 yards over 17 plays as the Pioneers converted three third-downs on their way into RMU territory. SHU would get as far as the Colonials' 22-yard line, calling timeout with three seconds remaining to set Dane Borges up for the game-winning attempt. Looking for just the third walk-off, game-winning field goal in SHU's Div. I history (since 1999), unfortunately for SHU the attempt had the distance but went wide left of the upright to send the Colonials home with a win on RMU's Senior Day.

Playing in the final game of 2019, RB Julius Chestnut came into today with the second-most rushing yards in FCS and he capped an incredible campaign with another stellar performance as he carried 30 times for 141 yards and 1 TD. Chestnut completes the season with 1,495 rushing yards, good enough for the second-highest single-season rushing total in program history, finishing behind Keshaudas Spence's 2013 total of 1,669 yards on the ground. Chestnut's 293 carries this season set a new SHU single-season record, passing Spence's 281 rushes from his 2013 campaign. Today's 141-yard effort marked Chestnut's ninth 100+ yard game of the season as well as his fourth straight to end 2019. His 1,495 yards currently sits behind only Monmouth's Pete Guerriero's 1,668 on the national leaderboard, guaranteeing Chestnut at-best the second-highest rushing total in FCS this season.

Making a third straight start, redshirt freshman QB Marquez McCray was outstanding in his first career start on the road, finishing 14-for-22 (63.6%) throwing for 161 yards with 1 TD and 0 INT. McCray showed very well in his three-start run to end the season as he completed 64.8 percent of his passes for 352 yards (117.3 per game) with 2 TD and 0 INT, playing turnover-free football while going 2-1. His 161 yards is a single-game season-high while he was dynamic with the ball in his hands, rushing for 98 yards on 18 carries (5.4 yards per carry) which also is a season-high. McCray's 98 rushing yards is the highest single-game total for a SHU QB since Kevin Duke rushed for 104 yards at Bucknell in 2018 (20 games ago).

McCray's top target on the day was freshman WR Tyrese Chambers who finished with seven catches for 98 yards and 1 TD on the day. Of McCray's 14 completions, exactly half went to Chambers as the freshman added another productive day to his record-breaking 2019 campaign. Chambers finishes the 2019 season with single-season SHU rookie records across the board in receptions (50), yards (811), yards per catch (16.2) and touchdowns (8) in 11 games played. Chambers becomes just the fourth player in school history to record 10+ touchdowns in a single-season while his 811 receiving yards ranks seventh all-time at SHU.

On the defensive side of the ball, the Pioneers put forth a great effort once again, limiting the Colonials to just one TD on the day and finishing the season on a four-game run wherein SHU allowed just 11.5 points per game. LB Chris Outterbridge led the team in tackles with seven while DE Kevin Peprah recorded a sack and SS Salaam Horne collected his first interception of the season and the second of his career.

1st Quarter (7-0 SHU)

  • A slow start on the offensive side of the ball saw both sides go three-and-out in their first drive of the game
  • With just 2:44 elapsed in the game, SHU went on a 13-play, 70-yard scoring drive that lasted just under seven minutes
  • Three third down conversions, including a third down RMU pass interference call that pushed SHU into the red zone, proved vital for the Pioneers as Chestnut capped the TD-drive with a nine-yard off tackle run at the far side to make it 7-0 SHU
  • RMU marched down the field, deep into SHU territory on their next drive before a 3rd-and-10 play saw Peprah shake free of the Colonials' left tackle, sacking QB George Martin 13 yards behind the line of scrimmage to push RMU out of FG range and into a punt

2nd Quarter (7-7 Tied)

  • RMU took the ball back with 12:52 remaining in the quarter and following a 1st down run, Margin found Garrett Houser for a 79-yard scoring strike that tied the score at 7-7
  • McCray broke free on the ensuing SHU drive, running 23 yards up the far side of the field before running out of bounds at the RMU 32-yard line
  • Despite the McCray rush, the Pioneers couldn't get any farther as a crucial 4th-and-7 play saw RMU sack the Pioneer QB and hand the ball back to the Colonials
  • Another impressive SHU drive came late in the quarter as a 15-play, 69-yard drive took 7:15 minutes off the clock but didn't result in points as RMU held firm with the Pioneers in the red zone and followed with a block on Borges' 29-yard attempt to keep the game tied at the half

3rd Quarter (14-10 SHU)

  • Salaam Horne came up with the game's first and only takeaway on the first drive of the second half as Martin's deep 2nd-and-13 pass down the field was picked off by the Pioneer junior defensive back and returned 26 yards to the SHU 38-yard line
  • In a game that featured several long drives, RMU went on one of their own as an 11-play, 71-yard drive finished with a Nick Bisceglia 28-yard FG as the Colonials took their first lead of the game at 10-7 with 5:21 left in the period
  • SHU's defense came up with a red zone stand on that drive as FS Jayden Jordan made a great diving play to breakup what would have been an RMU touchdown from Martin to WR Deonte White
  • Feeding off the defensive stand, SHU converted a huge 3rd-and-8 play as McCray found Chambers who matriculated his way 24 yards up the field and into RMU territory
  • Later in the drive, McCray connected again with his freshman receiver, completing a 16-yard strike to Chambers for the go-ahead touchdown to make it 14-10 SHU

4th Quarter (16-14 RMU)

  • Following another Bisceglia make, this time from 21 yards out, RMU trailed just 14-13 and made perhaps the play of the game as a Bisceglia onside kick was recovered by the Colonials early in the quarter
  • The momentum-shifting play later led to Bisceglia's third FG make of the day, this time was his longest from 35 yards out as the Colonials again took the lead at 16-14
  • Trailing by two with 5:09 remaining, SHU took the ball at their own 20-yard line and marched down the field to give Borges an attempt for a game-winner
  • In that drive, McCray stepped into a crucial third down throw to WR Naseim Brantley over the middle, who picked up seven yards for a first down on the 3rd-and-6 completion
  • Later on, McCray scrambled up the middle for yet another third down conversion as the clock wound under two minutes to play
  • With the ball at the RMU 22-yard line, the Pioneers took their final timeout with three seconds remaining and unfortunately saw their game-winning attempt go wide left

NOTES

  • The seven-win season for SHU completes yet another winning season for head coach Mark Nofri, who now has six winning seasons to his credit with eight years at the helm for the Pioneers
  • SHU's seven wins in 2019 ties their win total from the 2018 NEC Co-Regular Season Championship team and stands as their highest single-season win tally since a 9-3 season in 2014
  • Chestnut logged another 30 carries on Saturday, giving him a SHU single-season record 293 rushes in 2019 which also stands as the highest total for any individual player in FCS
  • Chestnut's career rushing yard total stands at 2,208 after two seasons of collegiate football, well on-pace to break SHU's all-time record of 3,745 set by Spence
  • The Pioneer defense finished the season on a high-note, allowing just four touchdowns over the final four games of the season and allowing just 11.5 points per game over the stretch
  • Peprah's sack on Saturday increases his season total to 3.5 (second on the team) while he finishes the 2019 season with a team-high 11 tackles-for-loss
  • Outterbridge recorded a team-high seven tackles on defense, increasing his season total to 80 which is impressive considering the junior linebacker tallied just four tackles combined in the first three games of the season
  • Another INT for the SHU defense increased their season total to 12, nearly double the Pioneers' 2018 season total of seven
  • The 12-INT total for the Pioneers on defense is the highest single-season total since 2015 for SHU when they picked off 17 opponent passes
  • Salaam Horne became the seventh Pioneer to record an INT and the 14th different player to record a takeaway on the season for SHU
  • SHU on the time-of-possession battle for just the fifth time in 2019 while this marked the first time the Pioneers lost a game when possessing the ball longer than their opponent (4-1 record)
  • The Pioneers went 9-for-16 (56%) on third downs on the afternoon while the SHU defense limited RMU to just 2-of-9 (22%) on their third down attempts
  • The 238 rushing yards on the day for SHU is a season-high and their most in a game since rushing for 341 against Duquesne last season
  • A season-high 154 penalty yards on 13 penalties proved costly for the Pioneers as this was the most penalty yardage accumulated by SHU in a game since Sept. 9, 2017 when the Pioneers were flagged for 155 yards in a road win over Lafayette