Holy Cross Falls To #25 UMass 24-16 In Season Opener

WORCESTER, Mass. – Senior quarterback Ryan Taggart (Bedford, Texas) completed 23 of 44 passes for 246 yards and a touchdown, but the Holy Cross football team was defeated by 25th-ranked Massachusetts 24-16 at Fitton Field. The contest marked the first-ever night football game played on the Holy Cross campus. The Minutemen open the season at 1-0 with the win, while the Crusaders begin the campaign at 0-1.

UMass opened the scoring at the 5:48-mark of the first quarter on a one-yard touchdown run by Emil Igwenagu. Holy Cross responded early in the second quarter with a 44-yard field goal from senior placekicker Paul Tearson (Austin, Texas), making the scored 7-3. The Minutemen increased their lead to 11 points on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Kellen Pagel to Jesse Julmiste, before Taggart scored on a three-yard run to trim the UMass lead to 14-9 at halftime.

Brandon Levengood booted a 25-yard field goal early in the third quarter, then Pagel threw a four-yard scoring strike to Julian Talley midway through the fourth quarter, and the Minutemen were up 24-9 with just under eight minutes to play. The Crusaders refused to go quietly, as Taggart threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to junior wide receiver Gerald Mistretta (Brooklyn, N.Y.) with 0:51 to play, making the score 24-16. But Holy Cross was unable to recover the ensuing onside kick, as UMass held on for the win.

Sophomore tailback Reggie Woods (Bowie, Md.) led the Crusader ground game with nine carries for 45 yards, while sophomore wide receivers Mike Fess (Caldwell, N.J.) and Jon Smith (Matawan, N.J.) both finished the night with four catches. On the defensive side of the ball, junior strong safety Tom Mannix (Kenilworth, N.J.) totaled recorded 11 tackles with a forced fumble and a pass breakup, while sophomore cornerback Andrew Zitnik (Warren, Ohio) added 11 tackles and a pass breakup.

The Minutemen were led by Jonathan Hernandez with 151 rushing yards on 29 carries.

Holy Cross returns to action on Saturday, Sept. 10, when it plays host to Colgate at 1:00 p.m.