Sacred Heart Football wins NEC title

The Sacred Heart Division I football team continued their six game win streak with a championship win over Long Island University (LIU) 38-14 to capture the Northeast Conference (NEC) for a second consecutive year and for the third time in the last four years.

Junior running back Malik Grant, a finalist for the Football Championship Division (FCS) Walter Payton Award which is named after the late Chicago Bears running back, has been a contributing factor for Sacred Heart’s success. 

According to Grant, there have been tremendous obstacles throughout the season that allowed the team to achieve the success they have had so far.

“Two obstacles that immediately came to my head were the losses to Howard University and to Bryant University,” said Grant. “As a competitor, you never want to lose against a team in your division.”

Personally, Grant had lots of people that played a role in his individual success.

“Of course I have to thank my coaches because they push me every day to not only be a great player, but to also be a great man,” said Grant. “My teammates helped me tremendously as well and I’m really happy I have teammates that I can be close with, because it feels better to grow as a whole and experience everything together, whether good or bad.” 

When talking about teammates, the first player to come to Grant’s mind was senior running back Julius Chestnut. 

“Sharing the same position with who I believe is the best running back in the country has transitioned to a great friendship and somebody who I can look at as a person who can help perfect my craft,” said Grant. 

Chestnut, who missed the majority of the season, has combined for a total of 231 yards on the ground in the last two games. Chestnut and Grant’s rushing attack has been a key factor for the Pioneers in the last two games.

This season, the Pioneers held seven of their opponents to two score victories, and the Sacred Heart defense contributed to two shutouts against Bucknell and Wagner. The last shutout by the Pioneers was in 2013 against Duquesne. 

The Pioneers went on to face the College of the Holy Cross on Nov. 27 in the first round of the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoffs. Sacred Heart held a 10-6 lead late in the 4th quarter before the Crusaders capitalized with a go-ahead 35 yard touchdown to take the win.

Sacred Heart Athletics Contributed to this Article.

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