One day after clinching its second-straight Northeast Conference (NEC) championship, the Sacred Heart University football team secured a date with Holy Cross in the opening round of the NCAA Division I FCS postseason.
The two teams will meet on Saturday, November 27 at Fitton Field in Worcester with kickoff scheduled for 12 p.m. The winner will advance to the second round to compete against fifth-ranked Villanova University.
Sacred Heart won eight games this fall, including six league tilts to secure the conference crown. They won the NEC this spring with a 3-1 record but saw their bid for a national championship conclude in the first round to the University of Delaware.
“It’s exciting to be one of the 24 teams left playing,” said Sacred Heart coach Mark Nofri. “We’re excited to be in the FCS Playoffs. Holy Cross is a great draw, they’re one of the best schools in the Northeast and the entire country.”
The Crusaders captured third third-straight Patriot League title after winning all six matchups, including a 52-24 victory last week over Fordham University. Their impressive win over the Rams was highlighted by quarterback Matthew Sluka, who concluded the game with four touchdowns.
Saturday’s home playoff game will be the first for Holy Cross since they hosted Western Carolina in the NCAA Division I AA playoffs on December 3, 1983. The Catamounts beat the Crusaders, 28-21, and advanced to the national championship, but lost to coach Ray Dempsey’s Southern Illinois Salukis by a score of 43-7.
Holy Cross has competed in the NCAA FCS Tournament four times with their last three trips, including this spring ending with first-round setbacks. Sacred Heart is seeking its first postseason victory in program history.
“I know our guys will be fired up and ready to play,” said Nofri. “We have quite a few guys from Massachusetts on our team and we look forward to the challenge of playing up there.”
Holy Cross has won the last two meetings with the Pioneers, including a 52-21 victory in 2009. Quarterback Dominic Randolph concluded the game with four touchdowns, including two on the ground.