Sacred Heart (1-1) at Lafayette (0-2)
Saturday, Sept. 14 | 12:30 p.m.
Fisher Stadium | Easton, Pa.
FAIRFIELD, Conn. – A week removed from a dominating 30-10 home win over Bucknell, the Pioneers prep for their second straight Patriot League opponent with a trip to Lafayette slated for Saturday, September 14 at 12:30 PM from Fisher Stadium. SHU owns an impressive 4-1 all-time mark and come in riding a four-game win streak against the Leopards having scored 73 points combined in the last two meetings.
- SHU won convincingly on Saturday with a 30-10 win at home over Bucknell in front of a record home opener crowd of 4,187 at Campus Field. This marked the eighth staight season in which the Pioneers have won their home opener (+26.9 average margin of victory).
- RB Julius Chestnut (Offensive Player of the Week) and WR Tyrese Chambers (Rookie of the Week) each earned NEC weekly laurels for their individual efforts on Saturday. Chestnut carried the load on the rushing, rushing a career-high 21 times for 162 yards (7.7 ypc) and three total TDs (one rushing, two receiving). He was the lone NEC player to rush for over 100 yards last week while his 187 total yards from scrimmage represent a career-high and the most for an NEC player in a game this season. Chambers made big plays all over the field, finshing with four catches for 94 yards and a touchdown. The first-year receiver posted catches of 24, 28 and 37 yards while seeing a significant uptick in playing time in the Pioneers' 3-WR sets.
- QB Logan Marchi earned College Sports Madness NEC Offensive Player of the Week honors following a performance that saw the fifth-year transfer finish 21-for-37 for 316 yards to go along with three touchdowns and no interceptions. This was Marchi's third 300+ yard passing game of his collegiate career, falling just short of his career-high 365-yard outing against UConn as a sophomore with Temple in 2017.
- Top-notch defense was on-display on Saturday as the Pioneers limited the Bison to just 10 points including three at the half while allowing just 75 total yards. LB DeAndre Byrd led the way with eight total tackles, 1 TFL and a forced fumble while the team captains in the defensive backfield CB Shawn Ramcheran and SS Noah Provenzano iced the game away late with an interception each in the fourth quarter.
- Now in his eighth season at the helm, Coach Nofri has already become the winningest head coach in program history owning an all-time career mark of 44-37 (.543) with five winning seasons to his credit
- Rushing for 241.1 yards per game last season (15th nationally), SHU featured the NEC's top rushing attack last season as well as the nation's fifth-best passing defense (148.8 yards allowed per game)
- SHU's 42-14 loss at Maine snapped a six-game win streak as the last time the Pioneers had lost a game to open a campaign, prior to this season, came back in 2012 with a 30-27 overtime loss at Morgan State
- On offense, leading the charge will be the Pioneers' dominant two-headed duo at the running back position with 2019 Preseason All-NEC pick in Jordan Meachum (1,396 rushing yards, 11 touchdowns in 2018) and 2018 NEC Rookie of the Year Julius Chestnut (713 yards, seven TDs) combining for over 2000 yards last season
- The strength of this SHU team is on the defensive end as the Pioneers return nine starters, including all three linebackers, from a unit that ranked second in the NEC in total defense (336 yards allowed per game) and scoring defense (22.1) while ranking fifth in the nation in pass defense (148.8)
- The Pioneers were picked second in the NEC Preseason Coaches' Poll, earning one first place vote, as SHU finished last season 7-4 overall (5-1 NEC) on their way to a split of the NEC Regular Season title which represents the program's third NEC crown over the last six seasons
TALE OF THE TAPE (2019 stats/rankings)
|Lafayette (PL rank)||Category||Sacred Heart (NEC rank)|
|19.0 (3)||Points||22.0 (3)|
|306.0 (4)||Total Offense||357.0 (3)|
|51.0 (6)||Rushing Yards||147.0 (3)|
|255.0 (2)||Passing Yards||210.0 (2)|
|27:34 (6)||Offensive Time of Possession||26:31 (8)|
|417.5 (3)||Total Defense||446.5 (7)|
|239.0 (5)||Rushing Yards Allowed||118.0 (3)|
|2/3||Rushing TDs/Passing TDs||3/3|
|178.5 (4)||Passing Yards Allowed||328.5 (8)|
|4/1||Rushing/Passing TDs Allowed||3/4|
|32:26||Defensive Time of Possession||33:29|
|-1 (5)||Turnover Margin||+2 (2)|
|27.0 (3)||Points Allowed||26.0 (4)|
INSIDE THE BUCKNELL BOX SCORE
- The outcome was decided in the second quarter as the Pioneers exploded for 23 for their 30 points scored on the evening.
- SHU's 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. Sophomore RB Julius Chestnut carried the load on the ground, rushing a career-high 21 times for 162 yards (7.7 yards per carry) and three total TDs (one rushing, two receiving). Sophomore WR Naseim Brantley (six catches, 96 yards) and first-year WR Tyrese Chambers (four catches, 94 yards, 1 TD) were the top pass catchers on the day for the Pioneers.
- A balanced attack through the air saw Marchi find eight different players who tallied at least one reception on the evening.
- The defense came away with three sacks, two interceptions, nine pass breakups and 10 QB hurries on the day as CB Shawn Ramcheran and SS Noah Provenzano both snagged interceptions late to seal the victory.
- Sophomore LB DeAndre Byrd was everywhere on the defensive end, finishing with a team-high eight tackles while adding half a sack, one TFL and one forced fumble
- Sophomore DE Kevin Peprah added six tackles and one TFL while 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
- The victory moved 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.
- 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 opener crowd of 4,157 achieved in the 2018 opener against Lafayette (Sept. 1, 2018).
INSIDE THE MAINE BOX SCORE
- SHU's ground game, which led the NEC with 241.1 yards per game average last season, was largely held in-check by a Maine run defense that led the nation in 2018. The Pioneers gained 115 yards on 33 carries, led by Julius Chestnut who totaled 65 yards on nine carries (7.2 ypc). Fifth-year Eli Terry, who suffered a season-ending injury on the first play from scrimmage last season, saw the bulk of the work in the fourth quarter in his first game back and scored his second career touchdown.
- New faces led the SHU defense last Friday as sophomore inside linebacker Robert O'Donnell racked up a game-high eight tackles in his first career action. Junior Lamar Evans made six takcles while three Pioneers turned in four apiece. Sophomore Kevin Peprah recorded the game's only sack, the first of his career.
- Fifth-year transfer QB Logan Marchi started for SHU and played all but one series, going 12-for-29 for 104 yards and no interceptions against a Maine team that forced 18 last season. Marchi also punched in a one-yard score in the first quarter, good enough for the second rushing TD of his collegiate career.
- The Black Bears put the game away in the first half, scoring a touchdown on all six of their drives in the opening two quarters of play.
- Maine's three-year starter at QB, Chris Ferguson, tossed for a career-high 423 yards and three touchdowns including 404 yards in the first half alone, all against a SHU pass defense that ranked Top 5 in the country in 2018.
- After being outscored 42-7 and outgained 487-65 in the first half, SHU came back to shutout Maine (7-0) and outgain the Black Bears 142-95 in the second half
- Entering the game with 1952 career rushing yards, fifth-year RB Jordan Meachum gained 33 yards on nine carries to move to within 15 yards of becoming the eighth SHU player in program history to gain 2000+ career rushing yards
- Sophomore WR Naseim Brantley caught a career-high five receptions for 25 yards
- Sophomore WR Troy Holland went for 33 yards in his first career action, including an impressive 32-yard catch in the fourth quarter
- Prior to the loss, the last time SHU had lost in the team's first game of the season came all the way back in 2012 with a 30-27 overtime loss at Morgan State.
- In the first-ever meeting between the two sides, SHU dropped to 3-3 all-time in games played against nationally-ranked opponents.
- The Pioneers came into the game riding a three-game win streak against ranked foes, having beaten No. 24 Delaware (2014), No. 21 Bryant (2014) and No. 20 Stony Brook (2016) all within the last six seasons.
- The game also represented the first time SHU has ever faced an opponent ranked Top 10 in the nation.
BUCKNELL SCOUTING REPORT
- Lafayette (0-2) opened the season with a pair of road losses, the first came at William & Mary (30-17) while the Leopards fell at Monmouth (24-21) in a tightly-contested battle last weekend
- The passing attack has led the offensive unit thus far with QB Keegan Shoemaker completing 33-of-54 passes (61%) for 383 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions through the first two games of the season
- At 255 yards per game through the air, Lafayette ranks Top 30 in the nation in passing offense
- The rushing attack, meanwhile, has struggled mightily out of the gates, averaging 51 yards per game (111th in FCS) at 1.7 yards per carry
- Defensively, LB Major Jordan leads the unit with 20 tackles through the first two games
- Last season, the Leopards struggled on offense all year, ranking dead last in the FCS with 13 points per game
- Three offensive linemen return from last season's roster including Jake Marotti who was a 2018 All-Conference First Team selection
- WR Nick Pearson, who earned All-Conference Second Team honors in 2018, is the top option for the Lafayette passing offense as he comes in with a team-high seven catches for 127 yards (18.4 yards per catch) and one touchdown through two games this season
- Defensive lineman Malik Hamm is one of the top underclassmen defensive players in the FCS and was a HERO Sports Freshman All-American as well as the Patriot League Rookie of the Year last season
- In his rookie year, Hamm posted 58 total tackles, 15 TFL and 8.5 sacks in 11 games
- Teams has neutralized Hamm fairly well to start the season as he has 11 total tackles and 2 TFL with no sacks through two games
- Safety Yasir Thomas is another weapon on the defensive end, having been named an All-Patriot League Second Teamer in 2018
INSIDE THE SERIES: SHU vs. LAFAYETTE (SHU leads 4-1)
- The teams first met in the 2006 season where Lafayette claimed a 25-14 in a brutal rainstorm
- In the last four meetings in the all-time series, the Pioneers have won all four by an average margin of +14.5 and SHU has averaged 31.5 points per game on offense in the four-game span
- The SHU ground game has produced yardage totals of 261 (2018) and 287 (2017) yards in the last two matchups
- The Pioneers are 2-0 against Lafayette in games played in Easton
LAST MEETING (2018): SHU 35, LAFAYETTE 6 (FAIRFIELD, CONN.)
- A stout defensive performance saw the Pioneers limit the Leopards to just six points (two FGs, no touchdowns) and 253 yards of total offense in the 29-point home opener victory
- QB Kevin Duke was efficient, going 17-for-22 for 146 yards and two touchdowns while RB Jordan Meachum rushed for 132 yards on 17 carries and WR Andrew O'Neill hauled in nine receptions for 103 yards and one touchdown
- SHU finished the game 7-for-16 on third downs and a perfect 4-for-4 on fourth down conversion attempts
- On defense, the Pioneers limited Lafayette to 2-for-10 on third downs
- After playing to a 7-3 score at the end of the first quarter, SHU outscored Lafayette 28-3 in the remaining three quarters of play
- Noah Provenzano intercepted a pass and went 71 yards for a pick-six that broke the game open and made it 28-3 midway through the third quarter
LOGAN MARCHI | COLLEGE SPORTS MADNESS NEC OFFENSIVE POW (SEPT. 8)
- Fifth-year QB Logan Marchi took on a starring role for the Pioneers on Saturday night, finishing 21-for-37 for 316 yards through the air to go along with three touchdowns and no interceptions to earn College Sports Madness NEC Offensive Player of the Week honors
- 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 365-yard performance against UConn as a sophomore with Temple in 2017. He also continues to play mistake-free football as he has yet to throw an interception in his first 66 passing attempts as a Pioneer.
- Utilizing several different players, Marchi spread the ball around as eight different players had at least one catch on the evening. Marchi also utilized the deep ball quite well, averaging an impressive 15 yards per completion against the Bison. Marchi's 316-yard outing also marked the first time this season that an NEC quarterback has thrown for over 300 yards.
JULIUS CHESTNUT | NEC OFFENSIVE PLAYER OF THE WEEK (SEPT. 9)
- Chestnut, the 2018 NEC Rookie of the Year and four-time NEC Rookie of the Week award winner last season, earned his first career Offensive Player of the Week distinction by the conference
- A stellar all-around outing saw the sophomore rush a career-best 21 times for 162 yards (7.7 yards per carry) and three total TDs (one rushing, two receiving)
- Coming into the game against Bucknell with 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
- He was the lone NEC player to rush for over 100 yards on Saturday while his three total TDs tied for the lead among all non-QBs in the NEC
- His 162 yards on the ground are just two short of his single-game career-high of 164 established in a 49-26 home win over Bryant last season
- Chestnut's 187 total yards from scrimmage on Saturday represented a career-best and are the most by an NEC player in a game thus far in the season
- For his efforts, Chestnut was also named an FCS National Offensive Player of the Week Honorable Mention
TYRESE CHAMBERS | NEC ROOKIE OF THE WEEK (SEPT. 9)
- Chambers made big plays all over the field on Saturday, finishing with four catches for 94 yards and a touchdown in a 30-10 home win over Bucknell
- The first-year receiver posted catches of 24, 28 and 37 yards, a pair of which were highlight-reel worthy receptions, as the big-play threat burst open the Bucknell defense and led to a 300+ yard game for QB Logan Marchi
- After seeing little time in the season opener at Maine, Chambers was thrust into the Pioneers' three-WR sets and came away with a near 100-yard effort as well as his first career TD
- Fifth-year Jordan Meachum (RB) and senior Chris Agyemang (DE) earned Preseason All-NEC honors
- Meachum was also named to the CFPA FCS Performer of the Year Watch List, one of just 40 players across the nation to earn a spot and one of just three from the NEC to gain recognition. Meachum was one of just 14 non-quarterbacks listed on CFPA's 2019 preseason watch list, for an award handed to the nation's top player
- The defending NEC Co-Champion Pioneers' 2019 slate features 12 contests, the most regular season games SHU has played since the 2013 campaign
- A year after going 4-1 in games played at Campus Field, SHU is set to host five games in 2019 with the home opener slated for Saturday, Sept. 7 against Bucknell at 6 PM
- In the five-game non-conference slate, SHU challenges three Patriot League programs (Bucknell, Lafayette, Lehigh) in addition to the spotlight showdown at Maine to open the season and a mid-October contest at Penn
- The NEC welcomes a new member in 2019 as the Pioneers travel to Long Island (formerly LIU Post) on Saturday, Sept. 21st as all league members face a seven-game conference schedule, an increase of one from previous seasons
- In the Mark Nofri era (since 2012), the Pioneers have fared quite well in games played away from Campus Field, sporting a 22-21 record with six consecutive seasons finishing .500 or better as well as four straight 3-3 campaigns
- In a decision that was announced following the team's annual Spring Game, the Pioneers elected five captains for the 2019 season. Shawn Ramcheran (Sr., CB), Chris Agyemang (Sr., DE), Noah Provenzano (5th-Year, SS), Jordan Meachum (5th-Year, RB) and Josh Sokol (Sr., C) will serve as team captains this season
- Ramcheran is entering his second straight season serving as a team captain while Agyemang, Provenzano, Meachum and Sokol are all entering their first season in a leadership position
GOING, GOING, GONE – SHU'S RUSHING ATTACK
- SHU led the NEC and ranked 15th in the country in rushing offense in 2018, averaging 241.1 yards per game on the ground with a 5.50 yards per carry average
- The Pioneers shape up well in 2019 with the return of running back duo Jordan Meachum (1396 rushing yards, 11 TDs in 2018) and Julius Chestnut (713 yards, 7 TDs), who combined for over 2000 yards in 2018
- Meachum rushed for the second-highest single-season total in program history last season while also representing the program's first 1,000+ yard rusher since 2013
- Chestnut was the program's first NEC Rookie of the Year since RJ Noel in 2013 as the four-time NEC Rookie of the Week had a huge breakout campaign in 2018 with 713 rushing yards and seven touchdowns while playing in all 11 games
- In addition to the dynamic duo of Meachum and Chestnut, fifth-year Eli Terry returns in 2018 as the then-senior started the Pioneers' season opener against Lafayette and rushed for 27 yards on the first play of the game, only to suffer a knee injury on the ensuing tackle that cut his senior season short
- In those seven victories, SHU rushed for at least 153 yards in every one
- In the seven SHU victories from last season, the Pioneers averaged 271.1 yards per game on the ground compared to 188.5 in the team's four losses
- Three season-long starters along the offensive line last season – Anthony Della Fave, Josh Sokol and J.D. DiRenzo – return in 2019 with two new starters taking over at right guard and right tackle
ON THE DEFENSE
- Hordes of Pioneers return in 2019 (9-of-11 starters) after putting together a very solid 2018 campaign wherein SHU allowed 22.1 points per game (23rd FCS, 2nd NEC), 148.8 passing yards per game (5th FCS, 1st NEC) and 336 total yards per game (26th FCS, 2nd NEC) while the team also excelled in red zone defense (.686; 7th FCS, 1st NEC) and third-down defense (.318; 20th FCS, 2nd NEC)
- SHU returns nine starters on defense, including all three of its linebackers and three each on the defensive line and secondary units
- Eight of the team's nine leading tacklers from last season return to the field for SHU in 2019 including the leader tackler from each position group – linebackers (Mike Wilen 79), lineman (Chris Agyemang 55) and secondary (Jayden Jordan 54)
- SHU allowed less than 300 yards of total offense four times in 2018 and held opponents to single-digit point totals three times
- In the last five seasons, SHU has held its opponent under 200 yards of total offense eight times including in two of the final three games of the 2018 season (Robert Morris – 172, SFU 162)
- The Pioneer defense pitched a clinic in the 2018 season finale as SHU held SFU to just 49 yards rushing, a season-best for the Pioneers as well as the lowest rushing total for a SHU opponent since Lafayette rushed for 40 net yards on Sept. 9, 2017 (19 games ago)
- One area wherein SHU can improve in 2019 is in forcing turnovers as the Pioneers posted just seven interceptions and 15 total turnovers last season, both of which ranking lower-third in the nation
GETTING A PICK
- SHU tallied just seven interceptions in 2018 but finished on a high note with two interceptions a 13-7 win over SFU in the season finale that won the Pioneers a share of the NEC Regular Season title
- The Pioneers went five straight games without an interception last season for the first time in the team's Division I era (since 1999)
- Noah Provenzano and Jayden Jordan tied for the team-lead with two interceptions in 2018, combining for four of the Pioneers' seven total INTs
- One positive is SHU returns all five players who posted at least one interception in 2018 as well as 10-of-11 Pioneers who either forced or recovered a fumble
QUESTIONS AT QUARTERBACK
- SHU needs to make up for the loss of two-year starting quarterback Kevin Duke to graduation as he finished his career third all-time at SHU in passing yards (4745), fourth in pass completions (375), fifth in touchdown passes (30) and second in completion percentage (.591)
- Among the contenders for the starting job include incumbents senior Grant Lowary, junior Jake Radic and sophomore Marquez McCray along with fifth-year East Tennessee State transfer Logan Marchi
- Whoever claims the job will look to improve upon a passing attack that finished last in the NEC and 100th in FCS averaging just 168.5 yards per game
JUMPING OUT FRONT
- The Pioneers went 5-0 in 2018 when they scored first and were also undefeated at 4-0 when leading at the half
PUTTING THE GAME AWAY
- When looking at the season as a whole, the Pioneers dominated the season halves of games all throughout 2018, outscoring opponents 154-66 (+92) in the third and fourth quarters combined
- The single-largest margin came in the third quarter as SHU outscored opponents 96-45 (+51)
- On the defensive side, SHU allowed just 66 points in the second halves of games last season including just 21 points in the fourth quarter through 11 games in 2018
- This is compared with the first halves of games where the Pioneers were outscored 177-155, allowing nearly three-times as many points than in the second half
SHOULDERING THE LOAD – JORDAN MEACHUM NOTES
- After gaining less than 600 yards in his first two full seasons as a Pioneer, Jordan Meachum broke out with a monster 2018 campaign, ranking ninth in FCS with 148.5 all-purpose yards per game, fourth in FCS with 126.9 rushing yards per game and seventh in FCS with 1,396 total rushing yards
- His 1396 rushing yards is the second-highest single-season total in program history while he ranked second on the team with 18 receptions for 237 yards (13.2 yards per catch)
- Meachum ran for a school record 318 yards and 13.8 yards per carry in a 49-26 home win over Bryant and produced seven 100+ yard performances on the ground in 11 games last season, including five straight to finish the campaign
- He is the 10th player in school history to rush for 1,000+ yards in a season and the first to do so since Keshaudas Spence in 2013
- Meachum was a two-time NEC Offensive Player of the Week in 2018 on his way to earning All-NEC Second Team honors
- He enters his final season as a Pioneer with 1,952 career rushing yards, ranking eighth all-time at SHU
EDGE PRESSURE – CHRIS AGYEMANG NOTES
- SHU's top defensive lineman last season, Agyemang enjoyed a breakthrough 2018 season in which the then-junior earned All-New England and All-NEC First Team honors
- Agyemang ranked fourth in the NEC with seven total sacks as well as 15.5 tackles for loss while appearing in all 11 games
- He sat second on the team with 55 total tackles and added in a forced fumble and fumble recovery
- An imposing force all season, he racked up three games with more than one sack in 2018 and produced a career-high nine tackles in a road win at Wagner (9/22)
CHESTNUTS AND BOLTS – JULIUS CHESTNUT NOTES
- A rookie sensation in 2018, sophomore Julius Chestnut racked up 713 yards on 116 carries (6.1 yards per carry) with seven touchdowns in 11 games
- The 2018 NEC Rookie of the Year became the first Pioneer to win the conference's major award since RJ Noel back in 2013
- Chestnut was a four-time NEC Rookie of the Week honoree in 2018 as he rushed for 100+ yards three times (all of which came in NEC play)
- He rushed for a season-high 164 yards and three TDs against Bryant (10/27) which started a string of three consecutive 100+ yard performances wherein he had a 70+ yard rush in all three games