POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y. (AP) -- Sophomore R.J. Noel threw for two touchdowns and ran for a third in his first start as Sacred Heart rolled past Marist 37-21 in the season opener Saturday night.
The Pioneers, 2-9 last season, were picked to finish last in the Northeast Conference but returned the bulk of its defense that ranked second in the league. The sturdy defense made it easier for Noel to settle in.
The game was delayed for an hour by lightning with Sacred Heart up 16-0. The Red Foxes regrouped and scored a touchdown after the delay to trail 16-7 at the half, which was cut to 5 minutes.
But the momentum didn't carry through a five-minute intermission as Sacred Heart scored on a 1-yard run by Keshaudas Spence and a 46-yard pass from Noel to Tyler Dube for a 30-7 lead entering the fourth quarter. Noel's rushing touchdown made it 37-7.