Don’t look now, but a rejuvenated Sacred Heart football team has won three straight football games and threatens to be a force in the Northeast Conference (NEC).
After dropping two straight home games to Marist and Bryant to start the season, the Pioneers began their roll with a thrilling 24-21 home win versus Dartmouth. The locals then knocked off the NEC preseason favorite on the road by a score of 37-24 and last week traveled to New York City to defeat Columbia, 34-25.
Quarterback Tim Little ripped the Columbia Lions for 371 yards and three touchdowns Saturday afternoon as the SHU football team earned its third straight victory, 34-25. Rich Rossi was the squad’s leading receiver, hauling in two touchdown receptions on five total catches for 93 yards.
Greg Moore had another all-around solid day, racking up 160 all-purpose yards on 98 rushing yards as well as 78 receiving yards. The Pioneers have now defeated two Ivy League opponents this season after entering 2011 without ever knocking off a program from the prestigious conference.
3-2 for season
With the win, Sacred Heart improved to 3-2 for the season, while Columbia fell to 0-4.
For his performance, Little becomes the first Pioneer of the season to earn Northeast Conference Offensive Player of the Week recognition after a career day at Columbia. Little passed his way to 371 yards, three touchdowns, and a third consecutive victory. Little set a career high in passing yardage and accounted for the highest single-game output by a NEC quarterback thus far this season. The 6-foot-4 quarterback turned a 13-6 deficit into a 27-13 lead by accounting for three touchdowns over a 6:24 span.
Little completed passes of six and 31 yards to bring the ball to Columbia’s 1-yard line, setting up a touchdown run of his own that put SHU ahead for good, 20-13. On Sacred Heart’s next possession, Little capped a seven-play drive by hooking up with Garry Coles on a 27-yard scoring play. He registered a fourth touchdown by finding Rossi again, this time on a 12-yard play, for a touchdown with 9:33 left in the contest.
Chris Rogers, the SHU place kicker, continued his solid season en route to picking up his first NEC Special Teams Player of the Week nod. The freshman put his accuracy on display again in the Pioneers’ 34-25 road win over Ivy League member Columbia. Rogers hit a pair of three-pointers to remain perfect on field goal attempts (6-for-6) this season and scored a total of 10 points in the win. He opened the game’s scoring by booting a 32-yard field goal to cap the Pioneers’ first drive of the afternoon. After Columbia had taken a 6-3 advantage, Rogers tied the score by converting from 18 yards out on the left hash mark in the second quarter. He rounded out the game with a perfect 4-for-4 on points after.
However, Rogers’ biggest moment of the season came against Dartmouth when he kicked the winning field goal in the waning moments of the 24-21 victory. The kick came from 22 yards out with exactly one minute left on the clock.
The Big Green had a chance to send the affair to overtime with a 53-yard field goal but defensive lineman Matt Linnehan blocked the kick as time expired to end the game. Freshman Keshaudas Spence torched the Dartmouth defense for 129 yards on 28 carries and found his way into the end zone twice.
The momentum from the Dartmouth win carried over in New Britain against Central Connecticut State. The Fairfielders scored 16 unanswered fourth quarter points to stun their hosts. It was the first time Sacred Heart had beaten the Blue Devils in seven years.
The Pioneers host Saint Francis of Pennsylvania on Saturday at noon.