Football’s Rally Falls Short; Lose to Sacred Heart

The Hawks football team's fourth quarter rally fell just short as they lost to the Pioneers of Sacred Heart 24-21 on Saturday, Nov. 2. With the loss, the Hawks fell to 4-5 on the season while the Pioneers improved to 8-2.

After facing a halftime deficit of 24-7, the Hawks' defense managed to shut out the Pioneers' offense in the second half, and held them to 117-yards rushing total, 130-yards off their season average. After allowing scores on Sacred Heart's first three possessions, the Hawk defenders forced eight punts and two turnovers, while allowing just one more score.

"You have to give this Sacred Heart team credit, they are a very opportunistic group," said head coach Kevin Callahan. "We put ourselves into a big hole in the first half, struggling on both sides of the ball. In the second half I thought we played pretty well, particularly on the defensive side of the ball. We were able to get the ball back to our offense, but unfortunately we weren't able to finish off some of the drives. We had three turnovers in the second half that killed opportunities that we otherwise would have had."

Sacred Heart opened the scoring on a 4-yard run by RJ Noel with 10:37 left in the first quarter. Junior running back Julian Hayes tied the game with a 58-yard touchdown run made just three minutes later before the Pioneers scored 17 unanswered points to take a 24-7 lead into halftime.

After MU junior quarterback Brandon Hill found senior wide receiver Thaddeus Richards for a 19-yard touchdown late in the third, Kwabena Asante's 2-yard score brought MU within three with 6:25 remaining.

The most-talked-about play of the game occurred during the Pioneers' final scoring drive in the first half when SHU Moses Webb caught a wide-open pass from teammate RJ Noel at midfield and was flagged down and stripped of possession of the football by junior safety Pat Gray.

The loose fumble was scooped up and returned by junior defensive back Ify Asoluka, but he was then chased down and stripped by Webb who recovered the ball and returned it 51-yards. That play was so miraculous and bizarre that it clocked in at number-three of ESPN SportsCenter's Top Ten Plays of the day.

MU picked up 19 first downs compared to 16 for SHU. The Hawks also outgained the Pioneers on the day 340 to 301.

Senior wide receiver Neal Sterling led the MU receivers with six catches for 70-yards, with Lamar Davenport adding four more receptions for 34 yards. Hayes rushed 15-times for 105-yards, including his 58-yard score, and Asante chipped in with 77-yards on 12-carries. The contest marked the sixth time this season that Hayes eclipsed the 100-yard plateau.

Hill completed 21-of-36 for 201-yards and a touchdown, as well as two interceptions. Defensively for the Hawks, fifth year senior defensive lineback, Dave Damirgian, led the way with 11-tackles. This was the first time since last season that a Hawks' defender reeled in more than 10-tackles in a game.

Fifth year senior defensive back, Clark Coe, had an interception and a pass breakup from his safety position. MU's defense forced nine tackles for a loss, but was unable to record a sack in the contest.

With only three games remaining in the season, the Hawks are looking to get hot and finish with a record above .500 for the first time since the 2008-2009 season, when the team finished with at 7-4.

The Hawks will return to action this Saturday when they travel to Staten Island to battle against former Northeast Conference rival, the Seahawks of Wagner College (2-7). Game time is set for noon as the Hawks look to get back to their winning ways against a Wagner team that lost their last three contests.