Moon Township, PA (Sports Network) - As teams began to clinch bids for the FCS playoffs on Saturday, Sacred Heart was the first one to power into the 24-team field.
The Pioneers (10-2) earned the Northeast Conference's automatic bid with a 42-25 win at Robert Morris coupled with Wagner's 10-7 win at Saint Francis.
Quarterback R.J. Noel fueled the Sacred Heart victory with four total touchdowns.
The Pioneers, under coach Mark Nofri, finished with a mere 2-9 record last season. They were picked to finish last in the NEC's preseason poll.
North Dakota State (Missouri Valley Football Conference), Maine (CAA Football), Eastern Illinois (Ohio Valley Conference) and Southeastern Louisiana (Southland Conference) also clinched automatic bids on Saturday.
The FCS playoff field of 11 automatic bids and 13 at-large bids will be announced during an ESPNU selection show at 11:30 a.m. Nov. 24.