Sacred Heart 2013 FCS Football Playoff Capsule

Sacred Heart Pioneers
Northeast Conference


In 2012, Sacred Heart went 2-9 overall and finished in last place in the Northeast Conference. Heading into this season the expectations were not much higher. But then they played the games. After a nice start in non-conference play, the Pioneers and Coach Mark Nofri kept it going in NEC play, finishing with a 4-2 mark and winning the head to tiebreaker with Duquesne. As a result, Sacred Heart is making their first ever playoff appearance. With the expanded field, the Pioneers have a shot at advancing, but just getting here is the real accomplishment.

2013 Record: 10-2, 4-2
Coach: Mark Nofri

Big Wins: 9/7 at Lafayette (26-24), 11/9 Duquesne (10-0)
Bad Losses: 10/5 Wagner (20-23), 10/26 at St. Francis (10-24)

If Sacred Heart is going to win a game, they will need to continue to be effective on the ground. Defensively, the Pioneers rank in the top 15 in the nation in in rush defense. Sophomore linebacker Kellen Sperduto totaled 101 tackles. Flanked by Matt Colucci and freshman James Rentz, the young linebacker corps has played well beyond their years. Up front, Troy Moore is good at stuffing the run. Moore, along with end Ray Hodgson, also has done an amazing job getting into the backfield. That consistent pressure has led to an impressive 36 forced turnovers. On the other side of the ball, running back Keshaudas Spence rushed for 1,475 yards and 11 scores. Spence is a big part of the reason why Sacred Heart led the NEC in rushing, but quarterback R.J. Noel certainly adds to it. He rushed for 665 yards and is always a threat to scramble.

However, the sophomore signal caller is not the most prolific passer. For the most part, the Pioneers just needed Noel to keep the interceptions down. And that is what he did with just 7 interceptions and 23 touchdowns. Yet, he threw for just 2,037 yards and completed 53% of his passes. That is not the most efficient passing and this team is going to have to throw the ball more often during the playoffs. But the pass defense may prove to be more problematic. While the secondary will pick off some passes, especially cornerback J.D. Roussell, the unit can be susceptible to giving up the big play. For Sacred Heart to have success in their first playoff appearance, the secondary must make big plays, not give them up.

Statistical Leaders:
Rushing: Keshaudas Spence, RB, 1,475 yards
Passing: R.J. Noel, QB, 2,037 yards
Receiving: Tyler Dube, WR, 775 yards
Tackles: Kellen Sperduto, LB, 101
Sacks: Troy Moore, DL, 8.5
Interceptions: Dennis Regan, S, 4

2013 Team Stats:
Rushing Offense: 235.8 (13th in nation, 1st in conference)
Passing Offense: 170.8 (95, 5)
Total Offense: 406.6 (48, 1)
Scoring Offense: 35.3 (22, 1)
Rushing Defense: 110.4 (11, 1)
Pass Defense: 204.3 (39, 5)
Total Defense: 314.7 (9, 1)
Scoring Defense: 20.0 (13, 1)
Turnover Margin: 1.8 (1, 1)
Sacks: 3.42 (6, 1)
Sacks Allowed: 0.75 (10, 2)

Recent Playoff Appearances:
No Tournament History

*all team stats through 11/16


Playoff Central