LORETTO, Pa. – Trailing by 10 midway through the third quarter, the Sacred Heart football team didn't go away as the Pioneers tied the score late in the fourth and scored the game-winning touchdown in overtime to topple Saint Francis U, 36-33, on Saturday afternoon from DeGol Field. The much-needed victory snaps a three-game losing streak for SHU as the Pioneers improve to 4-4 overall and 2-2 in the NEC.
The game-winning sequence came on a 3rd-and-9 play from the 10-yard-line as QB Logan Marchi fired to his left, finding WR Rob DiNota, who barreled through a SFU defender to score the winning touchdown after the SHU defense held the Red Flash to a field goal on their overtime offensive series.
The TD pass to DiNota marked the first career score for the sophomore receiver as he finished the day with career-highs across the board in catches (six) and yards (44). WR Kezio Snelling exploded for 134 yards on four catches (33.5 yards per catch) as all four of his receptions went for touchdowns or first downs while he had a monster 71-yard score on a 3rd-and-4 play that tied the score with 5:18 left in the fourth quarter.
Marchi rebounded in a big way as the fifth-year transfer finished 16-for-27 on the day for 280 yards with 2 TD and 0 INT. This marked Marchi's first turnover-free outing in four games as SHU did all their damage against a SFU squad that came in ranked first in the NEC in scoring defense (18.3 points allowed coming into today). The 36 points scored for the Pioneers is the second-most points the Red Flash defense has allowed all season.
The Pioneers relied heavily on the ground game as three ball carries totaled 184 yards rushing, the second-highest single-game total for SHU on the season. RB Julius Chestnut totaled 88 yards on 22 carries with 1 TD as he now has 902 yards on the season, continuing to rank Top 5 in the FCS. First-year RB Malik Grant, playing in his first career game, carried 11 times for 51 yards while he also scored from two yards out. Marchi was solid on the ground all day, picking up a season-high 45 yards on 12 carries.
Defensively, the SHU front seven allowed just 88 rushing yards on 30 carries (2.9 yards per carry) for SFU. LB Chris Outterbridge continues to lead the way, recording a season-high in tackles for the fifth straight game, finishing the day with 12. LB Kevin Sears recorded his second sack in as many games while CB Lamar Evans recorded two pass breakups as he leads the team with eight on the season.
1st Quarter (10-3 SFU)
- SFU drove 81 yards down the field on their second offensive series, going down to the SHU 2-yard-line, but three straight stops including a Sears back on 3rd-and-goal forced the Red Flash into a 22-yard Trevor Thompson field goal
- After sputtering on their first two drives of the game, the Pioneers got on the board as Marchi found WR Naseim Brantley for a 31-yard reception which later led to a 29-yard FG from PK Dane Borges that tied the score at 3-3
- SFU QB Jason Brown was fantastic throughout as big plays came through the air all day, this time he hit WR Ra'Shaun Henry for a 60-yard score to make it 10-3 Red Flash as the first quarter came to a close
Okayyyyy Logan �� pic.twitter.com/Yvgu8np6l7— SHU Football (@SHU__Football) October 26, 2019
2nd Quarter (20-10 SFU)
- The game continued to teeter back and forth as Grant dominated a series, rushing for 15 and 25 yards on consecutive carries to set the Pioneers up on the 1-yard line
- Just two carries later, Grant punched home his first career TD as SHU tied the score once again at 10-10 early in the second quarter
- SFU responded to the Grant score with 10 unanswered points but the damage could have been worse for SHU as another 1st-and-goal for the Red Flash on the SHU 2-yard line resulted in just a field goal as the Pioneers stuffed two consecutive rushing attempts before Evans batted away a fade route to WR EJ Jenkins to force the Thompson FG
- On the next Red Flash series, a 7-play, 80-yard drive finished with Brown finding Jenkins for a 16-yard score that pushed the lead to 20-10 in favor of SFU
3rd Quarter (23-16 SFU)
- After stopping the Red Flash on the first drive of the second half, SHU marched 84 yards down the field in 10 plays to set Borges up for a 23-yard make that lowered the margin down to one score
- The two teams traded field goals on the next two series as both sides drove down inside the red zone but had to settle for field goals after extended possessions
IT'S GOOD ‼️— SHU Football (@SHU__Football) October 26, 2019
Borges a perfect 3-for-3 with this 28-yarder ... Pios now trailing 23-16 late in the 3Q pic.twitter.com/bY5q53wwnc
4th Quarter (30-30 Tied)
- As the clock wound under 12 minutes, the Pioneers took the ball with great field position on the SFU defensive half and drove 41 yards down the field for a game-tying 2-yard TD from Chestnut
- The Pioneers managed to convert a huge 3rd-and-six play from the SFU 25-yard line on that drive as Marchi found Snelling for nine yards on the far side of the field to extend the Pioneers' TD-scoring drive
- Now midway through the fourth and with the Red Flash staring at a 4th-and-2 from the SHU 42-yard line, SFU kept its offense on the field and the decision paid off as Brown hit Terell Johnson in-stride on an out-breaking route, continuing all the way to the end zone for the go-ahead score
- With just 6:28 remaining and trailing by seven, Marchi hit Snelling with a massive 71-yard touchdown catch on the far sideline as the Pioneer WR broke a tackle on the 3rd-down play to tie the score once again
- SHU was forced to punt the ball on their own 1-yard line with just over two minutes remaining, setting up SFU with prime scoring field position as the Red Flash started their drive from the SHU 16-yard line
- As the clock wound down to just three seconds, Thompson, who had gone 3-for-3 prior to the attempt, stepped up for the game-winning kick but missed wide left which sent the game into overtime
MARCHI �� TO SNELLING ��— SHU Football (@SHU__Football) October 26, 2019
TOUCHDOWN SHU ‼️ pic.twitter.com/JMV6tBZKMk
Overtime (36-33 SHU)
- After winning the toss and electing to play defense first, the Pioneers forced a SFU three-and-out which resulted in a Thompson make from 36 yards out to make it 33-30 Red Flash
- On the SHU series, the ball was at the SFU 10-yard line on a 3rd-and-9 play but the moment wasn't too much for the Pioneers as Marchi looked to his left and spotted an open DiNota at the 5-yard line
- DiNota made the catch and plowed the SFU defender over, past the goal line and into the end zone as the SHU bench erupted on the game-winning score
- After a three-game losing streak, the Pioneers win their third straight over the Red Flash while moving back to .500 in NEC play at 2-2
- Marchi bounced back in a big way after struggling for three straight games as he finished 16-for-27 throwing for 280 yards with 2 TD and 0 INT
- The Pioneers move to 3-1 in games this season wherein Marchi doesn't throw an interception
- He also only took one sack as the Pioneer offensive line continues to play well, having only allowed four sacks all season
- Chestnut's 100-yard streak came to an end but the sophomore still had a productive day, finishing with 88 rushing yards on 22 carries with 1 TD
- For the season, Chestnut now has 902 rushing yards with eight total TD (six rushing, two receiving) as he ranks Top 5 in the nation in rushing yards and rushing yards per game (112.8)
- Making his debut at RB, Grant provided a spark for the Pioneers as he rushed for 51 yards on 11 carries (4.6 yards per rush) with 1 TD in his first career collegiate game
- Marchi locked in one three main targets in the course of the game as the trio of Snelling (four catches, 134 yards, 1 TD), Brantley (four catches, 91 yards) and DiNota (six catches, 44) combined for 14 catches for 267 yards and 2 TD
- Borges was a perfect 3-for-3 on his field goal attempts as well as 3-for-3 on extra points as the senior more than doubled his makes on the season
- Borges came in just 2-for-3 on field goal attempts in 2019 as he hit from 29, 23 and 28 yards out on the afternoon
- P Noah Gettman played a key role in the victory as he averaged 40.6 yards on his seven punts on the day while three landed inside the 20-yard line
- The SHU defense produced five TFL and four pass breakups through the course of the game
- Eight different Pioneers finished with at least four tackles
- This was the first overtime game for SHU since the 2012 season where the Pioneers dropped a 30-27 decision at Morgan State
- In addition, this was just the second NEC overtime win in program history for SHU as the Pioneers were 1-2 in OT games prior to today with their only win coming in a 10-7 home win on Nov. 2, 2002
The Pioneers are back on the road as NEC play continues at Bryant on Saturday, Nov. 2 with a 1:00 PM start. SHU rushed for a school record 538 yards in a rain-soaked 49-26 victory over the Bulldogs on Campus Field last season.