Crusaders Continue Road Trip At Lafayette

Mike Tucker

Complete Release in PDF Format

Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (1-5, 1-1 PL) vs. Lafayette (4-2, 1-0 PL)
Date: October 20, 2012
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Fisher Stadium (13,132), Easton, Pa.
Television: Lafayette Sports Network; Gary Laubach, play-by-play; Mike Joseph, color
Live Video Streaming: Lafayette All-Access
Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM & 94.9 FM, Worcester; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; John O'Neill, color; Click Here to Listen
Unofficial Live Statistics: Gametracker
Series Record: Lafayette leads, 14-12
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 29, Lafayette 24; November 12, 2011; Worcester, Mass.

The Series With Lafayette
This will be the 27th meeting between the Crusaders and the Leopards on the gridiron, with Lafayette leading the all-time series 14-12. Holy Cross has won the last four games between the two schools, including a 29-24 victory at Fitton Field last year. For games played in Easton, Lafayette has posted an 8-5 record against Holy Cross, although the Crusaders have been victorious in their last three trips to Fisher Stadium. Overall, the road team has won five of the last seven games in the series, with the lone exceptions being Holy Cross' home victories in 2009 and 2011. The schools first met on Sept. 20, 1986, with Holy Cross coming out victorious 38-14 in Easton.

Series Quick Facts
Overall: Lafayette leads, 14-12
In Easton: Lafayette leads, 8-5
At Fisher Stadium: Lafayette leads, 8-5
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, four games
Tom Gilmore vs. Lafayette: 5-3
Frank Tavani vs. Holy Cross: 6-6

Offense Catches Fire At Colgate
The Holy Cross offense turned in its top performance of the 2012 campaign during last week's game at Colgate. The Crusaders put up 35 points and 428 yards of total offense, setting new season highs in both categories. Holy Cross also posted its top totals of the year with 115 rushing yards, 313 passing yards and 23 first downs on the day. In addition, the Crusaders did not commit a turnover against the Raiders, marking their first turnover-free game of the season.

Elder Takes Over At Quarterback
Sophomore Steven Elder (San Antonio, Texas) has taken over as the starting quarterback for the Crusaders. In two games played (both starts), he has hit on 43 of 74 pass attempts for 518 yards and two touchdowns. Elder has also rushed 25 times for 59 yards and two scores, giving him 577 yards of total offense. Last week at Colgate, he completed 24 of 39 attempts for a career-high 313 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 42 yards and two scores on 15 carries. Previously against Bucknell, Elder connected on 19 of 35 passes for 205 yards, and rushed 10 times for 17 yards. He previously missed the first four games of the season due to injury, and did not appear in any contests as a freshman in 2011.

A Jack Of All Trades
Senior Jack Maliska (Winchendon, Mass.) earned second team All-Patriot League honors as a defensive tackle during the 2011 season, and was expected to once again be a force for the Holy Cross defense this year. But due to a number of injuries along the offensive line, Maliska has been needed by the Crusaders on both sides of the ball. Through the first six games of the season, he has played 269 snaps as an offensive guard, 58 snaps as a defensive tackle and 23 snaps on special teams. Maliska has started three games on defense and three games on offense, including starts on both sides of the ball against Dartmouth and Harvard. He has recorded one solo tackle on defense, and has been on the field for six of the team's 12 touchdown drives on offense. Last year, Maliska totaled 35 tackles for the Crusaders, with 27 solo stops, two sacks and four tackles for loss. His top games in 2011 came against Dartmouth and Lehigh, recording five tackles and a sack in each contest. Over the course of his collegiate career, Maliska now has 49 tackles, two sacks and six tackles for loss.

Crusaders In The Patriot League
Now in its 27th season of play in the Patriot League, Holy Cross owns an all-time record of 82-64 (.562) in conference action. The Crusaders won their last conference championship in 2009, clinching the title with a 28-26 victory over Lafayette to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs. Holy Cross' six Patriot League championships (all of them outright) have come in 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 2009. The Crusaders are tied for the second-most championships in conference history, behind only Lehigh with 10 titles. In 2009, Holy Cross won five Patriot League games for just the fourth time in school history. The Crusaders previously went 5-1 in 2008, while posting 5-0 conference records in 1990 and 1991.

Macomber Steps Up In Kicking Game
Junior John Macomber (Vienna, Va.) has handled all of the kicking duties for the Crusaders so far this season. He has scored a team-high 25 points on the year, hitting all five of his field goal attempts (including a long of 46 yards) and 10 of 11 extra points. Macomber has also averaged 39.1 yards on 38 punts, with a long of 59 yards and 13 kicks downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line. In addition, he has averaged 61.5 yards on 20 kickoffs with 10 touchbacks. Macomber led the team in scoring during the 2011 season with 56 points, hitting 12 of 15 field goals and 20 of 26 extra points. He also led the Patriot League in field goal percentage, while his 12 field goals made tied the school single-season record. Over the course of his career as a Crusaders, Macomber has now made 17 of 20 field goals and 30 of 37 extra points, for a total of 81 points scored. His 17 career field goals made currently rank eighth all-time at Holy Cross.

Mannix Stands Out In Secondary
Senior strong safety Tom Mannix (Kenilworth, N.J.) is once again one of the top players in the Holy Cross secondary, after earning second team All-Patriot League honors in 2011. During last week's game at Colgate, Mannix totaled eight tackles and a pass breakup. Previously against Harvard, he led the team with 11 solo tackles, to go along with two pass breakups and a tackle for loss. A few of Mannix's other top performances this year have come against Dartmouth (four tackles and an interception), Brown (14 solo tackles and an interception) and New Hampshire (five tackles and a pass breakup). On the season, he has totaled 46 tackles with two interceptions and a team-high five pass breakups. Mannix ranked second on the team with 87 total tackles last year, to go along with three forced fumbles, an interception, a fumble recovery and 10 pass breakups. During last year's Lehigh game, he recorded a career-high 12 total tackles with a forced fumble. In other games last season, Mannix had eight total tackles and an interception against Dartmouth; made 11 tackles with a forced fumble and a pass breakup against Massachusetts; and totaled 10 tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup at New Hampshire. During his career with the Crusaders, he has now totaled 184 tackles, four interceptions, four forced fumbles and 21 pass breakups.

SanDoval Shines In Senior Year
Senior linebacker Roman SanDoval (Allison Park, Pa.) has been one of the top players on the Holy Cross defense so far this season. During last week's game at Colgate, he led the team with 13 total tackles. Previously against Bucknell, SanDoval recorded five tackles and a quarterback sack. He also played well in games earlier this season against Dartmouth (career-high 14 total tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack) and New Hampshire (team-high 13 tackles with one tackle for loss). On the season, SanDoval now leads the team with 52 tackles, including two sacks and four tackles for loss. Last year, he totaled 15 tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss in the first three games, before missing the remainder of the season due to injury. Over the course of his collegiate career, SanDoval now has 107 total tackles, three sacks and seven tackles for loss.

Houghton Heads Up Ground Game
Senior tailback Eddie Houghton (Toronto, Ontario) is once again a key part of the Crusaders' offense this season. In the Colgate game, Houghton carried the ball 13 times for 60 yards and a touchdown. Previously against Dartmouth, he rushed 16 times for a team-high 55 yards and a score, while catching one pass for five yards. A few of Houghton's other top performances earlier this year came against Brown (62 rushing yards and a touchdown on 15 carries) and New Hampshire (seven carries for 48 yards, one reception for two yards). On the season, he has now rushed for 247 yards and three scores on 67 carries. In 2011, Houghton led the team and ranked fifth in the Patriot League in rushing with 506 yards and four touchdowns on 86 carries. His top game in 2011 came in the season finale at Fordham, when he carried the ball 15 times for a career-best 153 yards and two scores. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Houghton has now rushed 260 times for 1,288 yards and 13 touchdowns, while catching 22 passes for 129 yards.

The Last Meeting With Lafayette
Eddie Houghton ran 17 times for 68 yards and two touchdowns, to lead Holy Cross to a 29-24 victory over Lafayette at Fitton Field on Nov. 12, 2011. Houghton's second touchdown of the day came with just 1:06 remaining in the fourth quarter, to cap a 97-yard drive and give the Crusaders the lead for good. Houghton scored the first points of the day with a 12-yard touchdown run on Holy Cross' opening drive, then John Macomber kicked a 28-yard field goal to make the score 10-0. After Andrew Shoop threw a 10-yard scoring strike to Mark Ross for the Leopards, the Crusaders came back with a two-yard touchdown pass from Taggart to Alex Schneider. Lafayette responded with a 32-yard field goal from Austin O'Brien, before Taggart hit Mistretta for a 21-yard touchdown to make the score 23-10. But with just five seconds left in the second quarter, the Leopards' Greg Kessel scored on a one-yard run to make it a 23-17 game at the break. Lafayette claimed its first lead of the day on its opening drive of the third quarter when Shoop threw a 20-yard touchdown pass to Mark Ross. The Leopards drove deep into Holy Cross territory again late in the third quarter, but O'Brien missed a 26-yard field goal. On Lafayette's next possession, it faced fourth-and-15 from the 25-yard line with under six minutes to play, when Martin intercepted a pass at the three-yard line to give the Crusaders the ball. Holy Cross then began its 97-yard game-winning drive, which ended with Houghton's seven-yard scoring run. The Leopards would drive to the Crusader 22-yard line with less than 30 seconds remaining, before Ben Coffaro intercepted a Shoop pass in the end zone to secure the win.

Tradition Of Excellence
The 2012 campaign marks the 117th season of Holy Cross football. The Crusaders currently own an overall record of 606-482-54, good for a .554 winning percentage. Prior to the start of the 2012 season, Holy Cross' 605 all-time victories ranked as the 14th most among all Division I-AA schools. Holy Cross has had 31 first team All-America selections, sent 69 players on to professional football, won five Lambert Cups, claimed six Patriot League championships, and was named the Division I-AA Team of the Year in 1987. The Crusaders also played in the 1946 Orange Bowl, losing to host Miami on the game's final play.

Balanced Group Of Receivers Leads Holy Cross Offense
The Crusaders have a number of outstanding weapons in the passing game once again this season. Junior wide receiver Mike Fess (Caldwell, N.J.) currently leads the team with 37 catches for 312 yards through six games. He earned second team All-Patriot League honors last season after ranking second on the team with 45 receptions for 417 yards and two scores. Fess has now totaled 91 catches for 835 yards and two touchdowns during his collegiate career. Senior wide out Gerald Mistretta (Brooklyn, N.Y.) has posted 28 receptions for a team-best 350 yards and two scores over the first six contests of the season. He was named first team All-Patriot League in 2011 after leading the team with 60 catches for 723 yards and six touchdowns. Over the course of his career at Holy Cross, Mistretta has now recorded 122 receptions for 1,578 yards and 12 scores. Junior wide out Kyle Toulouse (Arlington, Va.) has caught 18 passes for 141 yards so far in 2011, after standing third on the squad with 40 catches for 472 yards and three touchdowns a year ago. Toulouse now has 66 receptions for 696 yards and three scores during his career as a Crusader. Junior wide out Jon Smith (Matawan, N.J.) has 10 catches for 105 yards on the season, and now has 33 career receptions for 379 yards and one touchdown. In addition, junior wide receiver Nate Stanley (Euclid, Ohio) has made nine catches for 107 yards this year, to bring his career totals to 27 receptions for 324 yards.

Schneider Shines At Tight End
Senior tight end Alex Schneider (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) is once again a key part of the Holy Cross passing game in 2012. Through the first six games of the season, he has caught eight passes for 65 yards and a score. Schneider totaled three receptions for 39 yards in the victory over Bucknell, and caught a six-yard touchdown against Brown. In 11 games played last season, he ranked sixth on the team in receiving with 15 catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Schneider previously earned first team All-Patriot League honors in 2010, when he stood fourth on the team with 30 receptions for 217 yards and a score. He was also named second team All-Patriot League in 2009, after ranking fourth on the team with 33 receptions for 275 yards, while his six touchdown catches were the second-most on the squad. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Schneider has now totaled 86 catches for 719 yards and 10 touchdowns.

Defense Dominates Against Bucknell
The Crusader defense turned in its top performance of the season during the Oct. 6 victory over Bucknell. Holy Cross limited the Bison to just 191 yards of total offense, six points and 10 first downs on the day, setting season lows in all three categories. The Crusaders also recorded two interceptions, sacked the quarterback three times and blocked a punt. The defense nearly posted a shutout, as Bucknell's points came from field goals on drives of three yards and 17 yards, after interceptions had given the Bison the ball in Holy Cross territory. The Bucknell contest marked the first time the Crusaders had held their opponent without a touchdown since shutting out Georgetown 55-0 on Sept. 22, 2007.

Head Coach Tom Gilmore
A two-time Patriot League Coach of the Year (in 2006 and 2009), Tom Gilmore is now in his ninth season as the head football coach at Holy Cross in 2012. He has guided the Crusaders to an overall record of 52-43 during his time at Holy Cross, including a 49-35 mark since the beginning of the 2005 campaign. In 2009, Gilmore led the Crusaders to an overall record of 9-3, the Patriot League championship and a trip to the NCAA playoffs. A finalist for the 2009 Eddie Robinson Award, Gilmore has led the Crusaders to winning records in seven straight seasons, including 7-4 marks in 2006, 2007 and 2008, along with winning streaks of six games (in 2008) and five games (in 2006 and 2009). Two of Gilmore's players, Dominic Randolph (2007, 2008 and 2009) and Steve Silva (2005), have been named the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, with Silva earning first team All-America honors. Gilmore has also led the Crusaders to four victories over ranked opponents, three of which came in 2009. Prior to his time at Holy Cross, Gilmore served as an assistant coach at Lehigh (2000-2003), Dartmouth (1992-1999), Pennsylvania (1986, 1990-1991) and Columbia (1987-1989). An Academic All-American at Pennsylvania, Gilmore graduated in 1986 with a bachelor's degree in computer mathematics. He was the Ivy League Player of the Year as a senior and helped lead the Quakers to four consecutive Ivy League titles.

Acquah & Tucker Playing Well Up Front
Junior defensive ends Gary Acquah (Bronx, N.Y.) and Mike Tucker (Chester Springs, Pa.) are both playing key roles along the Holy Cross defensive line this season. Tucker has totaled 13 tackles so far this year, with two sacks, three tackles for loss and a fumble recovery. Last season, he recorded 27 tackles and a pass breakup, while leading the team with nine sacks and earning second team All-Patriot League honors. Tucker posted a career-high three sacks at Bucknell in 2011, while making a career-best seven tackles with two sacks in the victory over Harvard. During his Holy Cross career, Tucker has now totaled 44 tackles and 11 sacks. Acquah tied his career high with 10 tackles against New Hampshire, in addition to breaking up a pass and blocking an extra point. He also made seven tackles at Harvard, and now has 34 total tackles, a sack and two tackles for loss on the season. Last year, Acquah led all Holy Cross defensive linemen with 40 total tackles, including two sacks and three tackles for loss. Over the course of his collegiate career, he has now totaled 74 tackles, three sacks and five tackles for loss.

Crusaders Among League Leaders
Several Holy Cross players rank at or near the top of the Patriot League standings in a number of statistical categories, through games of Oct. 13. Freshman wide receiver Kalif Raymond (Lawrenceville, Ga.) ranks second in the conference in kickoff returns (23.3 yards/return), fourth in punt returns (7.6 yards/return) and fifth in all-purpose yards (103.6 yards/game). Junior placekicker John Macomber currently stands third in the league in punting (39.1 yards/punt) and fourth in field goals (0.8 made/game). In addition, junior wide out Mike Fess leads the conference in receptions (6.2 catches/game), junior wide out Kyle Toulouse ranks fifth in kickoff returns (20.5 yards/return) and sophomore quarterback Ryan Laughlin (Glen Mills, Pa.) is fifth in passing yards (36.3 yards/game). As a team, Holy Cross ranks second the league in kickoff returns (21.0 yards/return) and stands third in both passing defense (208.0 yards/game) and net punting (34.6 yards/punt).

Holy Cross In The NCAA Statistics
Five Crusaders are ranked among the NCAA leaders in various statistical categories, through games of Oct. 13. As a team, Holy Cross ranks fifth in the nation in fewest penalties and 10th in fewest penalty yards. The rankings:

Category Rank    Player / Team Avg. / Pct.
Fewest Penalties 5   Holy Cross 3.8
Solo Tackles 5   Tom Mannix 7.0
  5   Roman SanDoval 7.0
Fewest Penalty Yards 10   Holy Cross 38.0
Passes Defended 21   Tom Mannix 1.2
  36   Logan Silver 1.0
Receptions 22   Mike Fess 6.2
Punt Returns 36   Kalif Raymond 7.6
Kickoff Returns 43   Kalif Raymond 23.3

Holy Cross Picked Second In Patriot League Preseason Poll
The 2012 Crusaders were picked to finish in second place in the preseason poll of the Patriot League's head coaches and sports information directors. Holy Cross received a total of 46 points in the poll, to go along with one first place vote. The rankings:

Rank School (1st place votes) 2011 Record Points
1. Lehigh (11) 11-2 / 6-0 PL 60
2. Holy Cross (1) 6-5 / 4-2 PL 46
3. Colgate 5-6 / 2-4 PL 36
4. Georgetown (2) 8-3 / 4-2 PL 33
5. Lafayette 4-7 / 2-4 PL 32
6. Bucknell 6-5 / 3-3 PL 15

Football Legends Ring Of Honor Inducts Third Class
The athletic department at the College of the Holy Cross honored three former football standouts on Aug. 30, as the third class of the Crusader Football Legends Ring of Honor. Ronnie Cahill (Class of 1940), Pat McCarthy (Class of 1963) and Jeff Wiley (Class of 1989) were all honored in a ceremony prior to the New Hampshire game, and received permanent recognition at Fitton Field. Only former Crusader football players who have been elected to the Holy Cross Varsity Club Hall of Fame are eligible for this honor, which is an annual event each fall. Individuals who had previously been inducted into the Crusader Football Legends Ring of Honor include George Connor (Class of ex1946), Gill Fenerty (Class of 1986), Bruce Kozerski (Class of 1984), Gordie Lockbaum (Class of 1988), Jon Morris (Class of 1964), Edmund Murphy (Class of 1943), Bill Osmanski (Class of 1939), Vince Promuto (Class of 1960), John Provost (Class of 1975) and Joe Wilson (Class of 1973).

Defending The Home Turf
Holy Cross has enjoyed great success at Fitton Field over the years, but stands just 1-3 at home so far in 2012. The Crusaders, who played their first game at Fitton Field in 1903, have posted an all-time home mark of 368-172-27 (.673). From Oct. 11, 2008-Oct. 9, 2010, Holy Cross had a streak of 13 straight victories at home. The Crusaders had a perfect 6-0 mark at Fitton Field in 2009, and finished the 2011 campaign with a winning record at home for the sixth straight season. Fitton Field is the second-oldest stadium still used for Division I college football, behind only Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania (opened in 1895).

Holy Cross Has Six Preseason All-Patriot League Selections
Six Crusaders were selected to the 2012 preseason All-Patriot League team, as selected by the conference's head coaches and sports information directors. Junior placekicker John Macomber, senior defensive tackle Jack Maliska, senior strong safety Tom Mannix, senior wide receiver Gerald Mistretta, junior linebacker Mike Tucker and senior center Sean Whited were the Holy Cross players named to the team. The Crusaders' six selections were the second-most in the league, behind only Lehigh with seven.

Crusaders Bring In Preseason Honors
Several Holy Cross players have received preseason honors from various organizations heading into the 2012 campaign. Senior wide receiver Gerald Mistretta was selected as a third team All-American by the Beyond Sports Network. In addition, Mistretta, junior placekicker John Macomber, junior linebacker Mike Tucker and junior defensive back Andrew Zitnik (Warren, Ohio) were all selected to the College Football Performance Awards Watch Lists for the Football Championship Subdivision. Mistretta is a candidate for the Wide Receiver Award, Macomber is up for the Placekicker Award, Tucker is a candidate for the Linebacker Award and Zitnik is up for the Kick Returner Award.

Mannix, Mistretta, SanDoval & Whited Named Team Captains
Holy Cross will have four captains during the 2012 football season. Senior strong safety Tom Mannix, senior wide receiver Gerald Mistretta, senior linebacker Roman SanDoval and senior center Sean Whited (Canton, Ohio) were named the team's captains by head coach Tom Gilmore following the conclusion of spring practice. These three players have taken over the leadership role from Mike McCabe, Ricky Otis and Mark Tolzien, who served as the Crusaders' captains during the 2011 season.

Crusaders On The Radio
All of Holy Cross' games in 2012 will air on WTAG 580 AM and 94.9 FM in Worcester. Holy Cross Hall of Famer Bob Fouracre is in his 42nd season calling the play-by-play for Holy Cross football, and his 26th year covering the Crusaders on the radio. Former Holy Cross standouts Tom Kelleher, Gordie Lockbaum and John O'Neill will serve as the color commentators for selected games this season. To Listen to the Crusaders' games free of charge over the internet, click here. In addition, WCHC 88.1 FM, the Holy Cross student station, will carry a number of games this year.

Holy Cross On Television
The Crusaders are scheduled to have three games shown on live television during the 2012 season. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule for the 2012 campaign:

Sept. 22 vs. Dartmouth: Charter TV3
Oct. 20 at Lafayette: Lafayette Sports Network
Oct. 27 vs. Fordham: Charter TV3

Crusader Vision
Live video streaming of all 2012 Holy Cross regular season home football games will be available over the internet through Crusader Vision. The package, done in association with Stretch Internet, is available for $8.95 per game. Season packages are also available for football only ($45.95) or all Holy Cross sports ($99.95). For details on how to view games through Crusader Vision, click here.

The Holy Cross Football Show
Every Tuesday during the season, head coach Tom Gilmore will be joined by Bob Fouracre for the Holy Cross Football Show. The show airs live from 11:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. exclusively on the internet, with archives of all the shows available to those who can not watch live. The show is carried through Crusader Vision at a cost of $1.95 per week, and is also included in season packages for the show only ($14.95), football only ($45.95) or all Holy Cross sports ($99.95). To view the Holy Cross Football Show, click here.

E-Mail Alerts
Get all the latest news and results on the Holy Cross football team sent directly to your e-mail. To sign up for e-mail alerts, click here.

Scouting The Leopards
Lafayette enters this week's game with an overall record of 4-2 on the season, including a 1-0 mark in the Patriot League. The Leopards are coming off a 20-10 victory over Yale last Saturday. Senior Andrew Shoop has led the Lafayette offense by completing 85 of 138 passes for 978 yards and seven touchdowns with two interceptions on the year. Junior wide out Mark Ross has a team-best 34 receptions for 486 yards and four touchdowns, while sophomore tailback Ross Scheuerman has rushed for 349 yards and three scores on 74 carries. Defensively, the Leopards are led by junior linebacker Mike Boles with 45 tackles, two tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. Frank Tavani is now in his 13th season as Lafayette's head coach, and has posted an overall record of 70-71. The 2004 Patriot League Coach of the Year, Tavani served as an assistant coach with the Leopards for 13 years before taking over as head coach.

Quick Hits
Freshman wide receiver Kalif Raymond has returned 20 kickoffs for 465 yards and seven punts for 53 yards so far this season. His 178 kickoff return yards at Colgate placed third on the all-time Holy Cross single-game list ... Sophomore free safety Logan Silver (Eugene, Ore.) totaled two tackles, a sack, an interception and two pass breakups against Dartmouth. On the season, he has now recorded 24 tackles, one sack, two interceptions and four pass breakups ... Senior strong safety Tom Mannix has been selected as a semifinalist for the 2012 William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame to the top scholar-athlete in the nation ... Holy Cross' 52 points allowed at Harvard were the most it had given up since Lafayette scored 56 points on Nov. 13, 2004 ... The Crusaders' 49-point margin of defeat at Harvard was their largest since falling to Lehigh 62-8 on Oct. 23, 1999 ... Prior to the Sept. 22 contest against Dartmouth, Holy Cross honored members of its 1987 team on the 25th anniversary of their perfect 11-0 season ... The season opener against New Hampshire on Aug. 30 marked the earliest in the year that the Crusaders had ever played a regular season game. Prior to this year, Holy Cross' earliest ever start to the season came on Sept. 1 (in both 2007 and 2011) ... Four Holy Cross players have returned to the team as fifth-year seniors in 2012: tailback Matt Bellomo (Holliston, Mass.), tight end Alex Schneider, quarterback Kevin Watson (Belle Mead, N.J.) and center Sean Whited.