August 27, 2007

Crusaders Set To Open 2007 Season With Trip To UMass

Aug. 27, 2007

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The Teams: Holy Cross (0-0, 0-0 PL) vs. #3 Massachusetts (0-0, 0-0 CAA)
Date: September 1, 2007
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Warren P. McGuirk Alumni Stadium (17,000), Amherst, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Tom Kelleher, color; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
UMass Radio Network: WRNX 100.9 FM, Holyoke, flagship; Bob Behler, play-by-play; Matt Goldstein, color
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 21-20-5
Last Meeting: Massachusetts 28, Holy Cross 10, September 14, 1996, Worcester, Mass.

The Series With Massachusetts
This will be the 47th meeting between the Crusaders and the Minutemen on the gridiron, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 21-20-5. Massachusetts has won the last five games in the series, with the last meeting coming in 1996. For games played in Amherst, the Minutemen own an 8-7 advantage in the series, including two straight victories. The last win for the Crusaders in the series came on Sept. 14, 1991, when they posted a 22-20 victory at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. The schools first met on Sept. 25, 1897 in Amherst, with Holy Cross posting a 4-0 victory.

Series Quick Facts
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 21-20-5
In Amherst: UMass leads, 8-7
At McGuirk Alumni Stadium: UMass leads, 8-5
Current Win Streak: UMass, five games
Tom Gilmore vs. UMass: 0-0
Don Brown vs. Holy Cross: 0-0

For Openers
Holy Cross will start its 112th season of intercollegiate football with the game at Massachusetts. The Crusaders have always been excellent on opening day, posting a record of 66-36-9 in their season debuts. Holy Cross defeated Georgetown 26-13 in its opener last season, and the Crusaders now stand 5-2 on opening day during the current decade. Since the beginning of the 1980 season, Holy Cross stands 18-8-1 in its opener. The Crusaders also have an all-time mark of 44-62-4 in their opening road game of the season. Holy Cross has a 6-5 record in road openers over the last 11 years, including last season's victory at Georgetown.

Holy Cross Returns Experience In Secondary
Holy Cross will have four experienced players starting in its defensive backfield this fall. Senior Casey Gough (Hinsdale, Ill.) will man one of the cornerback spots for the fourth straight season, after earning first team All-Patriot League honors in 2006. Gough ranked second on the team with 54 total tackles last season, in addition to leading the team with three interceptions and seven pass breakups. Junior Kyle Mushaweh (Woodbury, Conn.) will return for his second season at the other cornerback spot, after totaling 54 tackles and six pass breakups a year ago. Senior Kent Flanders (Atlanta, Ga.) will man the strong safety position for the fourth straight season, after recording 37 tackles, an interception and three pass breakups last year. And senior Obi Green (The Colony, Texas) will return to the starting role he had at free safety during the 2004 and 2005 seasons. Green came off the bench in 2006, and made 11 tackles while breaking up three passes. Last year, the secondary led a Holy Cross defense which gave up just 335.4 yards and 21.4 points per game.

Crusaders To Have Three Captains
Holy Cross will have three captains during the 2007 football season. Senior cornerback Casey Gough, senior free safety Obi Green and junior quarterback Dominic Randolph (Amelia, Ohio) were named the team's captains by head coach Tom Gilmore following the conclusion of spring practice. Gough, who was also one of four captains during the 2006 campaign, becomes only the 10th player in school history to serve as a team captain for more than one season. Previous two-year captains were George Connor (1905-1906), Raymond Lynch (1916-1917), Thomas Lamb (1969-1970), Craig Cerratani (1977-1978), Ed Kutschke (1985-1986), John Aloisi (1998-1999), David Puloka (1999-2000), Brian Hall (2001-2002) and Steve Silva (2004-2005).

Holy Cross Picked Fourth In Patriot League Preseason Poll
The 2007 Crusaders have been picked to finish in fourth place in a preseason poll of the Patriot League's head coaches and sports information directors. In addition, quarterback Sedale Threatt of Lehigh has been named the preseason Offensive Player of the Year, and linebacker Mike Gallihugh of Colgate was chosen as the preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

 

Rank  School (1st place votes)   2006 Record   Points
  1.  Lafayette (6)             6-6 / 5-1 PL       63
  2.  Lehigh (5)                6-5 / 5-1 PL       62
  3.  Colgate (1)               4-7 / 3-3 PL       52
  4.  Holy Cross (2)            7-4 / 4-2 PL       50
  5.  Bucknell                  6-5 / 3-3 PL       31
  6.  Fordham                   3-8 / 1-5 PL       21
  7.  Georgetown                2-9 / 0-6 PL       15

Key Players Return For Holy Cross On Offense
The Crusaders should have one of the top offenses in the nation during the 2007 campaign, with most of the key skill position players returning from last year's team. Junior quarterback Dominic Randolph will once again lead the offense, after connecting on 184 of 299 attempts for 2,237 yards and 19 touchdowns with just six interceptions in 2006. Four of Randolph's top five targets also return, to give Holy Cross what could be the top group of receivers in the nation. Senior Ryan Maher (Boca Raton, Fla.) led the Patriot League in receiving last season with 69 catches for 797 yards and six touchdowns, while senior Thomas Harrison (Wilmington, N.C.) was second on the team with 46 receptions for 569 yards and four scores. Junior Brett McDermott (Mansfield, Mass.) (39 catches for 518 yards and four touchdowns) and junior Jon Brock (Acworth, Ga.) (24 receptions, 257 yards and three scores) are also back to round out the outstanding assortment of receivers. In addition, the Crusaders also return their top two tailbacks from 2006. Junior Mike Kielt (Southbury, Conn.) led the team in rushing last year with 524 yards and six touchdowns on 108 carries, while junior Terrance Gass (Sicklerville, N.J.) added 450 yards and four scores on 107 rushes. All told, Holy Cross averaged 384.4 yards and 25.0 points per game in 2006, to lead the Patriot League in total offense and rank third in scoring offense.

Holy Cross Set To Open Another Year In The Patriot League
Holy Cross will begin its 22nd season of play in the Patriot League when it faces Georgetown on Sept. 22. The Crusaders own an all-time mark of 13-8 in their opening Patriot League contest of the season, including last year's 26-13 victory over the Hoyas. Holy Cross also stands 7-2 in conference openers over the last nine seasons, with the only losses during that span coming against Lehigh (38-20 in 2003) and Fordham (42-35 in 2004). From 1998 through 2002, the Crusaders won five straight conference openers, against Towson twice (31-24 in 1998; 17-14 in 2000), Georgetown twice (33-7 in 2001; 41-13 in 2002) and Lafayette once (30-12 in 1999). Holy Cross owns an all-time record of 60-55 (.522) in Patriot League action, winning five titles (1986, 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991).

The Last Meeting - UMass 28, Holy Cross 10
Ron Brockington and Frank Alessio both rushed for over 100 yards, to lead Massachusetts to a 28-10 victory over Holy Cross at Fitton Field on September 14, 1996. The Minutemen jumped out to an early lead, as Anthony Catterton tossed a 36-yard touchdown pass to Erik Henry to open the scoring. Catterton would add a two-yard touchdown run, giving UMass a 14-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Crusaders put their first points on the board midway through the second quarter, when Dana Fiatarone kicked a 27-yard field goal to cap a 12-play, 73-yard drive. The Minutemen came right back on their next possession, with Catterton throwing a 16-yard scoring pass to Bryan Healy, making the score 21-3. But the Crusaders would respond before the end of the half, with Brion Stapp hitting Brian Hopkins for a four-yard touchdown pass, to cut the UMass lead to 21-10 at the break. Unfortunately for Holy Cross, the offense was not able to generate any more points in the second half, allowing the Minutemen to hold on for the win. UMass' points after the intermission came on a 49-yard pass from Catterton to Torey Hamilton in the third quarter. Stapp finished the day by completing 28 of 46 passes for 199 yards without an interception. Jeff Laboranti led all receivers with seven catches for 56 yards, while J.R. Walz had a team-best 49 rushing yard. Catterton led the Minutemen by hitting on nine of 18 attempts for 224 yards and three scores, in addition to rushing for 36 yards and a touchdown. David Streeter led the Holy Cross defense with 20 total tackles, while Khari Samuel posted nine total tackles to lead the Minutemen. UMass finished the day with a 487-309 advantage in total yards, even though the Crusaders held a 3-1 edge in turnovers.

Crusaders Bring In Preseason Honors
Several Holy Cross players have earned preseason accolades heading into the 2007 campaign. Senior Casey Gough was named the No. 3 cornerback in the nation by The Sports Network, and also earned preseason All-America honors from both The Sports Network (second team) and College Sporting News (third team). Junior Dominic Randolph was listed as the No. 13 quarterback in the country by The Sports Network, and also received preseason Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year honors from Street & Smith's 2007 College Football Yearbook. In addition, several players were selected preseason All-Patriot League by Phil Steele's 2007 College Football Preview. Gough was joined on the first team by senior wide receiver Ryan Maher, while Randolph was chosen to the second team along with senior wide receiver Thomas Harrison, junior running back Mike Kielt, senior offensive lineman Dan Nolan (Pittsfield, Mass.), senior defensive lineman Adam Sadowski (Tucson, Ariz.) and junior offensive lineman Chris Smith (Buffalo, N.Y.).

Defending The Home Turf
Holy Cross has enjoyed great success at Fitton Field over the years. The Crusaders, who played their first game at Fitton Field in 1903, have posted an all-time home mark of 345-163-27 (.669). 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' best decade at home occurred from 1980-1989, when the Crusaders recorded a 41-12-1 mark. In the current decade, the Crusaders have posted a record of 17-21 at home, with a 3-2 record in 2006. Last year, Holy Cross posted its first winning record at home since the 2001 team went 3-2.

Holy Cross In The NCAA Statistics
Five Crusaders finished the 2006 season ranked among the NCAA Division I-AA leaders in various statistical categories. As a team, Holy Cross placed fifth in the nation in passing offense. The rankings:

 

Category               Rank  Player/Team          Avg.
Passing Yards             5  Holy Cross          271.5
                          8  
Dominic Randolph    248.6
Solo Tackles              5  
Dan Adams             8.3
Points Responsible For    8  
Dominic Randolph     13.6
Completions               9  
Dominic Randolph     20.4
Receptions                9  
Ryan Maher            6.3
Total Offense            10  
Dominic Randolph    258.4
                         11  Holy Cross          384.4
Third Down Conversions   14  Holy Cross           46.3
Pass Efficiency          20  
Dominic Randolph    141.3
                         20  Holy Cross          137.4
Pass Efficiency Defense  22  Holy Cross          108.4
Total Tackles            24  
Dan Adams             9.9
Kickoff Returns          25  Holy Cross           21.3
Net Punting              26  Holy Cross           34.1
Punt Returns             26  
Matt Fanning         10.4
Receiving Yards          32  
Ryan Maher           72.5
Tackles For Loss         38  
Dan Adams             1.2
Quarterback Sacks        44  
Chris Nielsen         0.5

Crusaders Among Patriot League Leaders
Several Holy Cross players finished the 2006 season ranked at or near the top of the Patriot League standings in a number of statistical categories. Quarterback Dominic Randolph led the league in passing yards (248.6 yards/game) and total offense (258.4 yards/game), and ranked second in pass efficiency (141.3 rating), while wide receiver Ryan Maher led the conference in receptions (6.3 catches/game) and receiving yards (72.5 yards/game), and stood fifth in all-purpose yards (99.3 yards/game). Wide out Thomas Harrison ranked third in the league in receptions (4.2 catches/game) and fourth in receiving yards (51.7 yards/game), while wide receiver Brett McDermott stood fifth in receptions (3.6 catches/game). In addition, cornerback Casey Gough was fourth in interceptions (0.3 picks/game) and fifth in kickoff returns (21.1 yards/return), placekicker Mike DeSantis ranked fourth in field goals (0.5 made/game) and extra points (94.3 percent), tailback Mike Kielt stood fifth in rushing (58.2 yards/game) and wide receiver Matt Fanning was fourth in punt returns (10.4 yards/return). As a team, Holy Cross led the league in total offense (384.4 yards/game), passing offense (271.5 yards/game), pass efficiency defense (108.4 rating) and third down conversions (46.3 percent); while standing second in pass efficiency (137.4 rating), scoring defense (21.4 points/game), passing defense (176.0 yards/game) and kickoff returns (21.3 yards/return); and ranking third in scoring offense (25.0 points/game), turnover margin (+0.4 turnovers/game) and net punting (35.0 yards/punt).

Head Coach Tom Gilmore
Tom Gilmore is in his fourth season as head coach at the College of the Holy Cross. Gilmore enters this week's game with an overall record of 16-17, as the Crusaders have won 16 of his last 28 games. Last year he led Holy Cross to an overall record of 7-4, including a five-game winning streak (the longest by the Crusaders since the 1991 season). In 2005, Gilmore guided Holy Cross to an overall record of 6-5, with tailback Steve Silva earning first team All-America honors. On Oct. 8, 2005, Gilmore led the Crusaders to their first victory over a ranked team since 2000, with a 13-10 win at No. 10 Lehigh. Gilmore came to Holy Cross after serving as defensive coordinator at Lehigh for four seasons, during which the Mountain Hawks were one of the finest defensive teams in Division I-AA. In 2001, he was named as the American Football Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year, after molding a young and inexperienced defense into a unit that allowed just 15.8 points per game and 86.6 yards rushing per game. Gilmore previously spent time as an assistant coach at 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.

Tradition Of Excellence
The 2007 campaign marks the 112th season of Holy Cross football. The Crusaders enter this week's game with an overall record of 569-458-54, good for a .551 winning percentage. Prior to the start of the 2007 season, Holy Cross' 569 all-time victories ranked as the 15th 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 five 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.

Scouting The Minutemen
Massachusetts is coming off a 2006 season in which it posted an overall record of 13-2 and won the Atlantic 10 Conference title with an 8-0 mark in league games. The Minutemen advanced to the NCAA Division I-AA championship game for the third time in school history, where they were defeated by Appalachian State 28-17. Junior quarterback Liam Coen returns to lead the UMass offense, after completing 217 of 334 attempts for 3,016 yards and 26 touchdowns with just 10 interceptions last season. Coen's top targets should be senior wide receiver J.J. Moore, who caught 46 passes for 594 yards and four touchdowns last year, and senior tight end Brad Listorti, who had 38 receptions for 604 yards and three scores in 2006. On defense, the Minutemen return their top two tacklers from a year ago in senior linebacker Jason Hatchell (134 tackles) and senior linebacker Charles Walker (131 tackles). UMass is led by head coach Don Brown, who owns a 26-11 mark in three seasons with the Minutemen. Brown's career record stands at 78-37, including four years at Northeastern and three seasons at Plymouth State.

Crusaders On The Radio
All of Holy Cross' games in 2007 will air on WTAG 580 AM, the true sports leader for the city of Worcester. Holy Cross Hall of Famer Bob Fouracre is in his 38th season calling the play-by-play for Holy Cross football, and his 22nd year covering the Crusaders on the radio. Former Holy Cross standout Tom Kelleher, who earned first team All-New England honors while leading the undefeated 1987 team in rushing, is in his eighth year as the color commentator. All of the Crusaders' games will also be available free of charge over the internet at `www.sportsjuice.com'. 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 five games shown on live television during the 2007 season. Two home games this season will be televised on WCTR TV-3 (Worcester), against Harvard on September 15 and Dartmouth on October 13. In addition, the September 29 contest against Yale will be carried CN8 on Comcast Cable, the November 10 game against Lafayette will be shown on College Sports Television and the Lafayette Sports Network (RCN Cable and WBPH TV-60 in Allentown, Pa.), and the October 20 contest at Lehigh will be aired on Service Electric Cable (Bethlehem, Pa.).

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 1:00-1:30 p.m. exclusively on the internet, with archives of all the shows available to those who can not listen in live. The show is carried free of charge at `www.sportsjuice.com'.

Quick Hits
The Crusaders are facing a team from the Colonial Athletic Association (formerly the Atlantic 10 Conference) for the third straight season. Holy Cross lost to Northeastern at home in 2006 (24-14) and fell at Delaware in 2005 (35-23). Against current CAA members, the Crusaders' all-time record stands at 63-44-6 (2-1 against Delaware, 0-1 vs. Hofstra, 5-0-1 against Maine, 21-20-5 vs. Massachusetts, 6-5 against New Hampshire, 4-1 vs. Northeastern, 9-1 against Rhode Island, 1-0 vs. Richmond, 4-3 against Towson, 9-12 vs. Villanova and 2-0 against William & Mary) ... For the first time since joining the Patriot League in 1986, Holy Cross is scheduled to play all of its non-conference games against opponents from New England (Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, Massachusetts and Yale).