FAIRFIELD, Conn. – The Sacred Heart football team will look to clinch its third Northeast Conference title in six years on Saturday afternoon. The Pioneers (6-3, 4-0 NEC) will travel to take on Duquesne (6-3, 3-1 NEC), and can clinch at least a share of the NEC title, along with the conference's automatic bid to the FCS Playoffs, with a victory.
Both teams enter the matchup riding three game-winning streaks and boast strong rushing attacks, with each team possessing a tailback ranked in the top six in the nation in rushing yards per game.
Game time is set for noon in Pittsburgh and will be streamed live on NEC Front Row.
- Sacred Heart can clinch at least a share of the Northeast Conference championships, as well as the conference's automatic berth to the FCS Playoffs with a win Saturday at Duquesne.
- SHU has averaged 535 yards of total offense over its last three games, while outscoring their opponents 38.3-19.3.
- SHU has lost 7 of its last 9 games against Duquesne, with both wins coming in years where the Pios captured NEC titles (2013 and 2014).
- This is the third 4-0 NEC start in school history for SHU (2000, 2001).
- The game will feature two of the nation's leading rushers in SHU's Jordan Meachum (122.6 ypg) and Duquesne's AJ Hines (123.3), who rank sixth, and fifth, respectively in the nation in yards per game.
- Senior quarterback Kevin Duke has spread the ball around this season, throwing 13 touchdown passes to eight different receivers.
- Senior Jordan Meachum and first-year Julius Chestnut has combined to run for 779 rushing yards over the last two games.
- SHU has scored at least 38 points in back-to-back games for the first time since its first two games of the 2017 season when they scored 42 (Stetson) and 38 (Lafayette).
- Last week marked the first time this season that SHU scored 35 points in one half. The Pios have allowed 35 points in the first half on two occasions (Cornell and Dartmouth).
- SHU has scored seven rushing touchdowns of 40+ yards, and five of 60+ yards over the last two games.
- Sacred Heart has scored touchdown runs on the first play of drives five times over the last two games.
- Meachum became the 10th player in program history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, and the first since Keshaudas Spence in 2013.
BATTLE OF THE BACKS
- Duquesne's AJ Hines enters this weekend ranking fifth in FCS, and second in the NEC with 123.3 yards per game. Meachum hs risen up to sixth in the nation in rushing with 122.6 yards per game.
COLLECTING THE HARDWARE:
- Julius Chestnut picked up his third NEC Rookie of the Week award last week after rushing for over 150 yards for the second straight week, tallying a game-high 152 yards and one touchdown.
- Junior defensive end Chris Agyemang earned his second NEC Defensive Player of the Week award of the season after notching seven tackles, including 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles for a loss.
ON THE DEFENSE:
- SHU's 70 rushing yards allowed was the fewest this season, besting the 78 allowed at Bucknell.
- The 172 total yards of offense allowed is the lowest of the season. It is the second time this season SHU has allowed fewer than 200 yards of offense and the fourth time they've allowed under 300.
- SHU's defense ranks 6th in the nation in passing defense (155.3 ypg).
- SHU currently sits 22nd in the nation in third down defense (39-of-123/32.3%).
- Jordan Meachum now ranks sixth in FCS in rushing yards per game (122.6).
- Meachum became the 10th player in school history to rush for 1,000 yards in a season, and the first since Keshaudas Spence in 2013.
- Meachum rushed for 145 yards and two touchdowns last week vs. RMU, following up his school record performance against Bryant with another big game.
SCOUTING THE OPPONENT
- Duquesne enters this Saturday's tilt on a three game winning streak, the last two of which have come on the road.
- Duquesne has also won three straight games over Sacred Heart.
- The Dukes, who have won four NEC tiltes since 2011, control their own destiny and can win the conference again this year with wins over SHU and CCSU in their final two games.
- Duquesne has won 56 games since 2011, at least eight more victories than any other NEC team. Their 33 conference wins over that same span are also the most in the conference.
- Junior tailback AJ Hines ranks 11th in FCS with 11 rushing TDs this season, and is fifth in the country in rushing yards per game at 123.3. has won three consecutive NEC Offensive Player of the week honors, the latest coming on the heels of a career-high 232 yard performance last Saturday at Wagner.
- Nehari Crawford leads the NEC in receiving yards with 93.1 ypg and nine receiving touchdowns.
- Junior quarterback Daniel Parr ranks fifth in the NEC with 193.3 passing yards/game this season.
- Parr ranks third in the league in passing efficiency (144.7), trailing SFU's Bear Fenimore and SHU's Kevin Duke.
- Duquesne ranks second in scoring offense (30.8 ppg), just narrowly ahead of SHU (30.2).
- Duquesne rushes for 176.6 yards per game as a team, which sits third in the NEC.