SMITHFIELD, R.I. – Despite a record-setting day by senior quarterback Kevin Duke, a late fourth quarter rally was not enough for the Sacred Heart football team to get past the Bryant Bulldogs in a 48-45 loss at Beirne Stadium.
Duke set new program single-game records with 39 completions, 62 pass attempts, and 429 passing yards. Wide Receiver Andrew O'Neill set career-highs with 11 receptions, 142 receiving yards, and two touchdowns. Byron Barney tied a career-high with 10 receptions, recording 97 yards and a score. Ezekiel Ennis had nine receptions for 94 yards. Nate Chavious carried the ball 22 times for 87 yards and two touchdowns. He finished the day with 246 all-purpose yards.
Sacred Heart – 3-6, 1-3 NEC
Bryant – 4-5, 2-2 NEC
The Turning Point
The two teams traded scores in the first half, playing to a 21-21 tie with 0:38 left in the second quarter. SHU was able to drive 66 yards in the waning seconds of the half to set up a 19-yard Josh Freiria field goal to take a 24-21 halftime lead. The Pioneers then opened the third quarter with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Duke to O'Neill that made the score 30-21 with 11:31 to play. Bryant then ran off 27 straight points, with Price Wilson's touchdown pass to Jean Constant at the 13:45 mark of the fourth quarter giving the Bulldogs a 48-30 lead.
Sacred Heart got back on the board with 9:27 to play on a four-yard touchdown run by Chavious, making the score 48-37. The Pioneers' defense then stepped up and got a stop on a 4th-and-1 to give the ball back to the offense at the Bryant 45. Six plays later, Chavious scored from 11 yards out to make the score 48-43 with 6:17 remaining. Duke then connected with O'Neill for a two-point conversion to get SHU within three, 48-45. On Bryant's next drive, sophomore linebacker Pat Lukert recorded his first career interception to give the Pioneers the ball back. After trading punts, Duke was intercepted by Richard Ukele with 1:08 to go.
How They Scored
9:03 1Q – SHU 7, Bryant 0; After forcing a Bryant punt on the Bulldogs first possession, the Pioneers drove 76 yards in 3:41 to take the lead. Duke hit Barney on a two-yard touchdown pass. The two combined for a 27-yard pitch-and-catch on SHU's first play from scrimmage.
4:41 1Q – Bryant 7, SHU 7; The Bulldogs answered the SHU score with a touchdown of their own. A six-yard touchdown pass from Price Wilson to Matt Sewall capped a 10-play, 64-yard drive.
14:49 2Q – Bryant 14, SHU 7; Wilson found Tom Kennedy for a 74-yard touchdown pass on the first play of the second quarter to give the Bulldogs the lead.
12:20 2Q – SHU 14, Bryant 14; Ose Imeokparia scored his first touchdown since Sept. 16 on a five-yard run to tie the game. Duke connected with RJ Trimble-Edwards on a 42-yard completion to get SHU to the Bryant 31 after starting the drive at the Pioneers' 23 yardline.
2:19 2Q – SHU 21, Bryant 14; The Pioneers drove 81 yards in 20 plays, taking 8:00 off the clock. Duke threw his second touchdown pass of the game, this time a 10-yard pass to Andrew O'Neill. SHU converted on third down six times on the drive.
0:38 2Q – Bryant 21, SHU 21; Bryant tied the game on Wilson's third touchdown pass of the game. His 29-yard strike to Tom Kennedy capped a nine-play, 70-yard drive to draw the game level for the third time.
0:00 2Q – SHU 24, Bryant 21; Duke went 4-for-4 passing on SHU's last drive for 58 yards, setting up a Josh Freiria 19-yard field goal as time expired on the half. Ezekiel Ennis caught three straight passes for 40 yards.
11:31 3Q – SHU 30, Bryant 21; After replay ruled that a Chavious fumble was an incomplete pass, the Pioneers drove 59 yards to extend their lead. Duke found O'Neill up the seam for a 26-yard touchdown pass to put SHU up 30-21.
9:19 3Q – SHU 30, Bryant 28; The Bulldogs used two trick plays, including a 50-yard reverse by Matt Sewall, to set up a six-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Kennedy.
4:52 3Q – Bryant 34, SHU 30; Bryant retook the lead on a 67-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Jean Constant on 3rd-and-9 from the Bulldogs' 33 yardline. The Bulldogs went for a two-point conversion but it was unsuccessful.
3:31 3Q – Bryant 41, SHU 30; A bad snap on a SHU punt was recovered by Bryant's Vincent Nisivoccia and returned 32 yards for a touchdown.
13:45 4Q – Bryant 48, SHU 30; A nine-play, 80-yard drive for the Bulldogs was punctuated by a five-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Jean Constant.
9:27 4Q – Bryant 48, SHU 37; SHU answers the Bryant touchdown with a 13-play, 78-yard drive that culminated in a four-yard touchdown run by Chavious.
6:17 4Q – Bryant 48, SHU 45; After stopping Bryant on 4th-and-1, the Pioneers got back within three on an 11-yard run by Chavious and a two-point conversion.
Key Stats and Notes
- SHU outgained the NEC's leading offense 556-505, and ran 105 plays.
- The last time SHU had over 500 yards of total offense was Sept. 12, 2015 at Valparaiso when the Pioneers amassed 526 yards.
- Before Saturday, SHU's last 400-yard passing game came on Nov. 6, 2010 when Dale Fink was 36-for-61 for 410 yards against Albany.
- Lukert had a career-high eight tackles. Max Trudeau had a career-high seven tackles, including his third sack of the season.
SHU travels to Saint Francis U next week for a 12 p.m. game on Nov. 4.