Sacred Heart 2014 FCS Football Playoff Capsule

Sacred Heart Pioneers
Northeast Conference


Sacred Heart is playing their best football down the stretch. On November 1st the Pioneers went to Wagner and came away with a 23-7 win. That kept them alive in the NEC race. And after getting past Central Connecticut State, Sacred Heart beat Bryant 14-7 in a game that was basically a play-in game for the playoffs. This team is stepping up when it matters most and they will be looking to pull off a playoff upset.

2014 Record: 9-2, 5-1
Coach: Mark Nofri

Big Wins: 10/4 at Delaware (10-7), 11/15 Bryant (14-7)
Bad Losses: 9/20 Bucknell (20-36), 10/25 St. Francis PA (27-30)

Because the Pioneers are so stout defensively, they can keep games against better teams close. That is what happened back on October 4th when the Pioneers beat Delaware 10-7. Sacred Heart allowed a 79 touchdown run on the first play from scrimmage in the game. After that, they plugged away, won the field position battle and kicked a fourth quarter field-goal for the win. On the year the Pioneers ranked sixth in the nation allowing just 274.8 yards per game. Running against this team is not easy and the pressure can come from everywhere. This team ranked in the top ten in the FCS in sacks and tackles-for-loss. Outside linebacker James Rentz is a big-time playmaker and ended the regular season with 11.5 sacks and 17.0 tackles-for-loss. Fellow linebacker Kevin Barry added 7.0 sacks and 15.0 tackles-for-loss. The defensive front has done a great job as well, even though it is often Rentz, Barry or safety Gordon Hill who make the plays. The rest of the secondary can make plays too. Cornerback J.D. Roussel is one of the best around and he picked off five passes and broke up nine more.

Despite Roussel and Connor Candito picking off passes, the Sacred Heart turnover margin is not all that great. The team forced 23, but the offense gave up 20 of their own. Junior quarterback RJ Noel is responsible for most of those turnovers. He threw 13 interceptions in 11 games and completed just 52.9 percent of his passes. While the offense may not be efficient, it is pretty dangerous. Noel is a very dangerous scrambler and picked up 626 yards on the ground to go along with his 2,271 yards through the air. This team will attempt to establish their running game through Keshaudas Spence. The big, bruising back rushed for 726 yards and three touchdowns on the year. Sean Bell will get opportunities on the ground as well. But Sacred Heart cannot spend all their time on the ground with a talent like Tyler Dube in the wide receiver corps. The senior has caught 72 passes for 862 yards and 14 touchdowns this season. When Sacred Heart gets into the red zone, you can bet Noel will be looking in Dube’s direction.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: Keshaudas Spence, RB, 726 yards
Passing: RJ Noel, QB, 2,271 yards
Receiving: Tyler Dube, WR, 862 yards
Tackles: Gordon Hill, S, 91
Sacks: James Rentz, LB, 11.5
Interceptions: J.D. Roussel, DB, 5

2014 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 178.8 (47th in nation, 3rd in conference)
Passing Offense: 211.5 (63, 2)
Total Offense: 390.3 (52, 1)
Scoring Offense: 27.5 (58, 2)
Rushing Defense: 86.1 (4, 2)
Pass Defense: 188.7 (24, 4)
Total Defense: 274.8 (6, 2)
Scoring Defense: 16.5 (7, 2)
Turnover Margin: 0.27 (41, 3)
Sacks: 3.27 (5, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 1.55 (36, 2)

Recent Playoff Appearances:
2013    First Round    Lost to Fordham

*all team stats through 11/15


Playoff Central