FAIRFIELD, Conn. – A slow start and lack of offensive production proved too much to overcome for the Sacred Heart football team in a 20-6 loss at home to fellow defending NEC Co-Champion Duquesne on Saturday from Campus Field. The Pioneers' third straight loss drops SHU to 3-4 overall and 1-2 in conference play while the Dukes improve to 4-2 overall and remain unbeaten at 2-0 in the league.
Despite the 14-point loss, the Pioneer defense played well in the loss, limiting the Dukes to 379 total yards on offense while forcing a pair of huge fumbles to deny Duquesne both of momentum and points. The Dukes, however, made the most of their third-down plays, finishing 12-for-20 (60 percent) on the day while holding a massive 43:01-16:59 edge in time of possession for the game.
RB Julius Chestnut was the best player on the day for SHU as he picked up 128 yards on 20 carries (6.4 yards per carry). He broke free for a 61-yard score in the third quarter that lowered the deficit to 17-6 midway through the frame. This marked the fourth straight 100+ yard performance for Chestnut who now has 814 rushing yards with 5 TD on the season. Chestnut's 814 yards on the ground ranks Top 5 in the FCS.
Leading the defensive effort for SHU was LB Chris Outterbridge who finished the day with a career-high 11 tackles. Over the last four games, Outterbridge has 38 total tackles (9.5 per game) after racking up just four tackles in the first three games of 2019. SS Noah Provenzano finished with a season-high 10 tackles while other key contributors included LB Kevin Sears (six tackles, one sack) and CB Shawn Ramcheran (five tackles, three pass breakups).
1st Quarter (3-0 DUQ)
- Duquesne QB Daniel Parr was sacked by DE Chris Agyemang on a 4th-and-3 play inside SHU territory that snuffed out the Dukes' opening drive and gave the ball to the Pioneers in good field position
- That momentum was short-lived, however, as QB Logan Marchi was intercepted by Reid Harrison-Ducros on a 3rd-and-12 play that gave the Dukes the ball back in prime scoring position
- With the ball at the SHU 39-yard line, Duquesne's offense stalled once again as Sears came up with a huge sack on 2nd-down that forced the Dukes into a punt
- Duquesne's punt was a good one, as the ball was downed at the SHU 2-yard line but the Pioneers fed Chestnut on their ensuing drive which marched across midfield but ended on a 4th-and-2 play in which the shotgun snap hit the turf and later smothered in the backfield by the oncoming Duquesne pressure
- A.J. Hines broke free for a 22-yard rush, setting the Dukes up for a 37-yard field goal from Mitch MacZura that broke the scoreless streak to start the game
BIG STOP ... courtesy of Agyemang �� pic.twitter.com/Lf6voBfqEd— SHU Football (@SHU__Football) October 19, 2019
2nd Quarter (17-0 DUQ)
- Neither side had much going on offense for seven-plus minutes until a key 13-play, 83-yard touchdown drive from Duquesne made it 10-0 Dukes with 5:58 left in the second quarter
- In the scoring drive, Duquesne was a perfect 4-for-4 on third-downs and were gifted a SHU pass interference call on a 3rd-and-goal play from the SHU 13-yard line. Three plays later, on another 3rd-and-goal, Parr found Kellon Taylor open for a 5-yard score to make it 10-0 Duquesne
- Another extended Duquesne scoring drive followed as the Dukes went 81 yards over just eight plays as the running back duo of Hines and Mark Allen set the stage for Parr who found Dontay Mayfield on an out-breaking route that made it 17-0 Dukes late in the first half
3rd Quarter (17-6 DUQ)
- After a three-and-out on their first possession of the second half, SHU injected some life into the game as Chestnut broke loss on a cutback over the left side of the line and rolled 61 yards to the end zone to make it 17-6 Duquesne with 7:19 left in the third quarter
- Another big play followed as the SHU defense came up huge in the red zone, forcing Hines to fumble the ball on the SHU 2-yard line, ultimately recovered by FS Jayden Jordan as the Pioneers denied the Dukes who had the ball 1st-and-goal from the SHU 3-yard line
- Trailing by just two scores and with momentum on their side following the huge fumble recovery, the Duquesne defense came up with another big play as Harrison-Ducros intercepted Marchi for the second time on the day to give the ball back to the Dukes in SHU territory
Julius says BYE BYE �� pic.twitter.com/TFp0S9kk7V— SHU Football (@SHU__Football) October 19, 2019
4th Quarter (20-6 DUQ)
- The Dukes made it a 14-point game early in the fourth quarter as a 10-play drive was capped by a MacZura 30-yard field goal to make it 20-6 Dukes
- With one last-gasp series, the Pioneers drove 37 yards into Duquesne territory but Marchi's 4th-down scramble was initially granted a first-down but ultimately, he came up short as replay found him short of the first-down marker
- The Pioneer defense forced another turnover late as CB Lamar Evans punched the ball out of Parr's hands after the Duquesne QB scrambled for 15 yards
- On the very next play, however, Marchi was intercepted by Daivon Ellison to seal the victory for the Dukes
- SHU gained 149 yards on the ground as the Pioneers totaled more than 100 yards rushing for the sixth time through seven games in 2019
- Chestnut was the key player on the day for SHU as the sophomore gained 128 yards on the ground for his fourth straight 100+ yard performance, fifth overall in 2019 and the eighth such game of his career
- For the season, Chestnut's 814 rushing yards (116.3 per game) ranks fourth in FCS
- Marchi struggled throughout against the nation's 14th-ranked passing defense as the Pioneer QB finished 9-for-25 for 84 yards with 0 TD and 3 INT
- Duquesne came in allowing just 175.4 passing yards per game (14th in FCS, 2nd in NEC) while SHU was the 28th ranked passing offense (267.7 yards per game coming into today) and the top ranked unit in the NEC
- The SHU offensive line of LT J.D. DiRenzo, LG Anthony Della Fave, C Josh Sokol, RG Nick Carnesale and RT Jon Mucciolo provided great protection once again as Marchi was sacked just one in 28 dropbacks on the day
- For the season, SHU has allowed just three sacks through seven games in 2019 which ranks inside the Top 10 for fewest sacks allowed
- The SHU defense forced two fumbles on the day, marking the fourth multi-takeaway performance on the season for the Pioneers
- A balanced defensive effort saw 10 different players record at least four tackles on the day for SHU
The Pioneers head back on the road for two straight games, starting with a lengthy trip to Saint Francis U on Saturday, October 26.