Pioneers out to 'right wrongs' in Dukes rematch
Sacred Heart defensive coordinator Mike Cooke says the Pioneers players are ready to "right some wrongs" from their season-opening defeat to Duquesne when they meet again in the Northeast Conference championship game on Sunday.
Cooke praised his team for not panicking when they trailed 27-12 after the third quarter, but their own errors eventually proved costly when going down by just a field goal to the now 4-0 Dukes.
It'll be a great challenge to right some of those wrongs from the first game.Mike Cooke
Duquesne were 10-for-15 on third down during that 7th March meeting and that is something Cooke's defense have significantly improved upon in their two subsequent wins.
The Pioneers restricted both LIU and Merrimack to a combined 16 points in those games with their opponents managing to convert just three of 22 third down plays while failing to move the chains on any of their three fourth-down attempts.
"They realized a lot of the mistakes were self-inflicted, especially third-down situations," Cooke told ctinsider.com.
"It'll be a great challenge to right some of those wrongs from the first game."
With an FCS playoff spot on the line, Sacred Heart will rely on running back Julius Chestnut to dash the Dukes defense.
The junior scored 24 of the Pioneers' points in that 30-27 defeat last month, rushing for 168 yards from 22 carries and adding four touchdowns.
After two solid seasons with Sacred Heart, Chestnut is enjoying a breakout campaign with a nation-leading average of 181.3 rushing yards per game.
The Pioneers head coach has identified Duquesne's dangerman to be transfer quarterback Joe Mischler, who threw for 231 yards in the last meeting and ran for another 63.
Duquesne are 10/11 to cover the three points that Sacred Heart are receiving on Sunday with the Pioneers also at 10/11 to prevail on the spread.
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