Football Earns Second Straight NEC Road Win, Defeating Bryant, 24-17

Football Earns Second Straight NEC Road Win, Defeating Bryant, 24-17

SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Taking control of the ball leading by seven at their own 4-yard line, the Sacred Heart football team steamrolled their way up the field behind RB Julius Chestnut as the Pioneers salted away a 24-17 road Northeast Conference victory over Bryant at Beirne Stadium on Saturday afternoon. A second straight win over the Bulldogs in the annual series moves SHU back over .500 in both the overall (5-4) and NEC record (3-2) while Bryant drops to 2-8 overall and 1-4 in the league.

In that final drive that iced the game away, Chestnut received eight straight carries, picking up 44 crucial yards as the sophomore finished off what was an incredible day that saw him total a career-high 203 rushing yards. Chestnut became just the ninth player in school history to gain 200+ rushing yards in a single-game while his career-high 43 carries is the most carries by a Pioneer in the program's Div. I era (since 1998) and the second-highest single-game total in school history. In two career games against Bryant, Chestnut has his two highest single-game rushing totals of his career as he now has 367 rushing yards on 56 carries against the Bulldogs (rushed for 164 as a freshman vs. Bryant on Oct. 27, 2018).

QB Logan Marchi picked his spots and finished 16-for-27 on the day, throwing for 177 yards with 3 TD and 1 INT. Marchi's fourth 3+ TD game of the season gives him 19 TDs through nine games in 2019 which is already tied for the sixth-highest single-season passing touchdowns in school history. For the season, Marchi has thrown for 2,147 yards which is the eighth-highest single-season total in SHU history with three games still to go on the season.

The SHU defense attacked the line of scrimmage all day, finishing with nine TFL as a team while forcing three takeaways (two INT and one fumble recovery) and totaling two sacks. The nine TFL set a new season-high while the three forced turnovers matched a season-best. DE Kevin Peprah was all over the field, leading the way for SHU with eight tackles and three TFL while LB Mike Wilen came up with four tackles, 1.5 TFL and his first career interception. DE Phil Sampson came up with a strip sack in the first quarter and CB Shawn Ramcheran snagged his second INT of the season which ultimately led to TD drive that proved to be the difference in the Pioneer victory.

1st Quarter (Tied 0-0)

  • A slow start to this Saturday afternoon NEC rivalry match saw each team possess the ball four times without scoring
  • SHU failed to convert a 4th-and-1 QB sneak but on the ensuing Bryant drive, Sampson beat Bryant's LT and put a big hit on the Bulldog QB Kory Curtis, knocking the ball loose and scooping up the fumble as the big play gave the ball back to the Pioneers in Bryant territory
  • The Pioneers missed an opportunity for points as the turnover didn't lead to points with PK Dane Borges missing what would've been a career-long 42-yard field goal wide right
  • The SHU defense continued to dominate the quarter as Wilen picked off Curtis on a 3rd-and-8 play, returning his first career interception 24 yards back into the Bulldog defensive end of the field

2nd Quarter (Tied 14-14)

  • After the defenses dominated the opening quarter, both teams put major points on the board starting with SHU breaking the deadlock on a 7-play, 55-yard scoring drive
  • The drive started with good field position, on the SHU 45-yard line, after the Pioneer defense denied Bryant RB Harrison Easton on a 4th-and-1 carry up the middle with Wilen and Peprah being credited with the TFL after being first on the scene for the SHU defensive unit
  • Chestnut picked up a pair of first downs on third down plays on the SHU scoring drive, setting the stage for Marchi who pump-faked on a slant and then hit WR Naseim Brantley who was wide open on the double move on the near sideline to make it 7-0 SHU
  • The lead was short-lived, however, as Bryant followed that up with an 8-play, 75-yard drive ending in a Curtis 5-yard QB scramble that knotted the score at 7-7
  • The Bulldogs took the lead as the program's all-time leading tackler Jesse Nemerowicz took a pick-six 33 yards all the way to the house that gave Bryant their first and only lead of the game at 14-7 midway through the quarter
  • The first half didn't end before a fourth straight drive finishing in a touchdown tied the score back up at 14-14
  • SHU marched down the field for a big momentum-changing TD as Marchi converted a pair of third-downs before Chestnut carried the Pioneers into the red zone, helping set up a Marchi 25-yard TD strike to last week's OT hero WR Rob DiNota

3rd Quarter (24-14 SHU)

  • Turnovers continued to pile up for the Bryant offense as Curtis was picked off by Ramcheran at the Bulldogs' 22-yard line, setting SHU up just outside the red zone on offense
  • Just three plays later, Marchi was gifted plenty of time in the pocket and found WR Kezio Snelling open cutting across the end zone as SHU went back out front, 21-14
  • On the next SHU offensive drive, the Pioneers marched 63 yards down the field in 12 plays across nearly five minutes of game action, setting up Borges who hit from 26 yards out to build the SHU lead to 10 points

4th Quarter (24-17 SHU)

  • Needing an answer in the worst way, Bryant put a stop to SHU's run of 17 unanswered points with a 23-yard FG from Luke Samperi take made it a one-score game
  • On that drive, Bryant had driven 63 yards down the field in eight plays, having the ball 1st-and-10 at the SHU 12-yard line but the Pioneer defense held strong and limited the Bulldogs to just three points
  • After forcing a SHU punt, Bryant took the ball over at their own 24-yard line and drove down to the SHU 26-yard line but the Pioneer defense benefitted from a Bryant personal foul call that backed the Bulldogs up to a 1st-and-25
  • Two plays later, DE Ray Wallace came up with his first career sack as Bryant was forced to punt
  • Even though Gavin Rowley's punt was downed at the SHU 3-yard line, the Pioneers leaned on Chestnut and pounded away at the Bulldog defense with eight consecutive runs to melt away all 5:27 as the clock expired
  • Chestnut gained 44 yards on those eight carries, including a huge 3rd-and-1 conversion as he plowed over the Bryant defensive front to help SHU earn the hard-fought road win

NOTES

  • Coming into the game with 902 rushing yards on the season, Chestnut's career game vaulted him up to 1,105 yards on the ground through nine games as the sophomore is averaging 122.8 rushing yards per game
  • Chestnut becomes just the seventh player in program history to rush for over 1,000 yards in a single-season
  • SHU now has a 1,000 yard rusher in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2007-08 as Chestnut combines with RB Jordan Meachum who rushed for 1,396 yards in 2018
  • Chestnut added one catch for 13 yards as he totaled 216 yards from scrimmage, also a single-game career-high
  • Chestnut easily bested his previous career-high in carries (28) as he totted the rock 43 times on Saturday, the second-highest single-game total by a Pioneer in program history
  • With three games still remaining in 2019, Marchi became the seventh SHU QB in program history to pass for over 2,000 yards in a single-season as he now has 2,147 (238.6 yards per game)
  • In the five SHU victories this season, Marchi has thrown for 1,555 yards (311 per game) with 17 TD and just 2 INT combined
  • On Marchi's 17 completions, five different Pioneers finished with at least two receptions while Brantley, DiNota and Snelling each caught one TD
  • WR Tyrese Chambers led the way for SHU with 43 receiving yards while Brantley tallied a game-high four catches
  • TE Ed Cuddahy was a factor as he finished with two catches for 22 yards
  • The SHU defense combined for one of the better all-around performances on the season as the team tallied a season-high nine TFL with two sacks while matching a season-best with three takeaways
  • Sampson registered a strip sack, giving him 2.5 sacks on the season (tied for second on the team)
  • Seven different Pioneers came away with at least 0.5 TFL as Peprah led the way with three
  • A week removed from holding Saint Francis U to just 2-for-15 on third downs, the Pioneers held Bryant to just 4-for-12 in this one
  • Over the last two weeks, SHU has held their two opponents to just 7-for-27 (25.9 percent) on third-downs
  • On the other side of the ball, SHU was an impressive 12-of-20 (60 percent) on third down attempts which is their second-highest single-game conversion percentage, trailing an 8-for-13 (62 percent) showing at LIU back on Sept. 21

NEXT GAME

SHU is back at home for consecutive weeks, starting with an NEC showdown against Wagner set for Saturday, Nov. 9 at 12:00 PM from Campus Field. This is the final NEC regular season home game for the Pioneers.