Crusaders Set To Face Northeastern In 2006 Home Opener

Sept. 4, 2006

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (1-0, 1-0 PL) vs. Northeastern (0-1, 0-0 A-10)
Date: September 9, 2006
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Fitton Field (23,500), Worcester, Mass.
Television: CN8; Dave Shea, play-by-play; Bob Norton, color
Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Tom Kelleher, color; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Northeastern Radio: WAGM 890 AM, Boston; WLLH 1400 AM, Lowell; Rob Rudnick, play-by-play; Bill Doherty, color
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 4-0
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 46, Northeastern 13, November 4, 1989, Worcester, Mass.

The Series With Northeastern
This will be only the fifth meeting between the Crusaders and the Huskies on the gridiron, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 4-0. The teams first met on Oct. 30, 1971, with Holy Cross posting a 17-7 victory. The Crusaders also won 38-14 on Sept. 15, 1973, and 52-30 on Nov. 19, 1988. In the last game played between the schools, Holy Cross was victorious by a score of 46-13. All four previous meetings between the Crusaders and Huskies have been played at Fitton Field.

Series Quick Facts
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 4-0
In Worcester: Holy Cross leads, 4-0
At Fitton Field: Holy Cross leads, 4-0
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, four games
Tom Gilmore vs. Northeastern: 0-0
Rocky Hager vs. Holy Cross: 0-0
In Overtime: n/a

Crusaders Against The Atlantic 10
Against current members of the Atlantic 10 Conference, the Crusaders own an all-time mark of 63-43-6. Holy Cross stands 2-1 all-time vs. Delaware, 0-1 against Hofstra, 5-0-1 vs. Maine, 21-20-5 against Massachusetts, 6-5 vs. New Hampshire, 4-0 against Northeastern, 9-1 vs. Rhode Island, 1-0 against Richmond, 4-3 vs. Towson, 9-12 against Villanova and 2-0 vs. William & Mary.

Holy Cross Set For Home Opener
Holy Cross is now in its 111th season of intercollegiate football. The Crusaders have been impressive in their opening home game of the season, posting an all-time mark of 75-27-7. Holy Cross has a 6-3 record in home openers over the last nine years, including last season's victory over Sacred Heart (56-21). With last week's 26-13 win at Georgetown, the Crusaders improved to 66-36-9 in their season debuts, including a 5-2 mark on opening day during the current decade, and an 18-8-1 record since the beginning of the 1980 season.

Holy Cross In The Patriot League
Holy Cross is now in its 21st season of play in the Patriot League. With last week's victory at Georgetown, the Crusaders now own an all-time mark of 13-8 in their opening Patriot League contest of the season. Holy Cross is now 7-2 in conference openers over the last eight 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 57-53 (.518) in Patriot League action, winning five titles (1986, 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991).

Adams Leads Crusader Defense
Senior linebacker Dan Adams (Springfield, Va.) is once again one of the top defensive players in the Patriot League this year. In the season opener at Georgetown, Adams totaled eight tackles, with three tackles for loss, an interception, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup. Prior to the start of the season, he was named the 16th-best linebacker in all of Division I-AA by the Sports Network. A year ago, Adams led the Holy Cross defense with 115 total tackles, including 97 solo stops, four tackles for loss and one sack. He finished the season as the national leader in solo tackles with an average of 8.8 per game, while ranking 21st in the country in total tackles. Adams' top game in 2005 came against Colgate, when he set a career high with 21 solo tackles, the most tackles in a game by a Crusader since the 1993 season. Some of his other top performances last year came against Lafayette (16 total tackles, including 14 solo stops and a tackle for loss), Delaware (team-high 10 tackles), Bucknell (10 total tackles), Lehigh (nine tackles and a fumble recovery), Yale (nine tackles), Georgetown (nine tackles with two tackles for loss and a sack) and Sacred Heart (nine total tackles). Over the course of his career as a Crusader, he has now totaled 216 total tackles, 172 solo stops and nine tackles for loss.

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 342-161-27 (.671). 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 14-19 at home. Holy Cross had a 3-3 mark at Fitton Field last year, marking the team's first non-losing season at home since the 2001 team went 3-2.

Gough Steps Up In The Secondary
Senior cornerback Casey Gough (Hinsdale, Ill.) looks to be one of the top defensive backs and kickoff returners in the Patriot League this season. In the season opener at Georgetown, Gough posted six total tackles and two pass breakups. Prior to the start of the year, he was named a preseason honorable mention All-American as a kickoff returner by Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette. A year ago, Gough was named second team All-Patriot League, after posting a team-best three interceptions, 45 total tackles, three tackles for loss and six pass breakups. In last season's victory over Yale, he recorded a career-high 11 tackles, including 10 solo stops, with two tackles for loss, an interception and a safety. Following that contest, he was named Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette National Defensive Player of the Week, Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week and ECAC Defensive Player of the Week. Gough was also named Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette National Special Teams Player of the Week and Patriot League Special Teams Player of the Week following the Bucknell game, after returning four kickoffs for 173 yards and a touchdown. In addition, he was named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week following the Harvard game, after making six tackles and returning an interception 42 yards for a touchdown. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Gough has now totaled 99 tackles, four interceptions and 16 pass breakups.

Crusaders Dominate Turnover Battle
Holy Cross looks to be strong in the turnover department once again this year, after forcing two turnovers without giving the ball away during the season opening victory at Georgetown. Last season, Holy Cross forced its opponents to commit 24 turnovers, while giving the ball away only 13 times. The Crusader defense posted 11 interceptions last year, in addition to recovering 13 fumbles. The Holy Cross defense has now forced at least one turnover in 19 consecutive games, while causing two or more turnovers 13 times during that stretch. On the offensive side of the ball, the Crusaders have thrown just seven interceptions and lost only six fumbles over their last 12 contests.

The Last Meeting With Northeastern
The Crusader offense scored on six consecutive first half possessions, as it built a 43-6 halftime lead on its way to a 46-13 victory over Northeastern at Fitton Field on November 4, 1989. Tom Ciaccio led Holy Cross by completing 12 of 14 attempts for 182 yards and two touchdowns, while playing less than half of the game. The Crusaders opened the game by scoring three rushing touchdowns in the first quarter to go up 21-0. Joe Segreti scored on runs of two and 23 yards, while Ciaccio added a one-yard touchdown run. Holy Cross increased its lead to 35-0 in the second quarter, with Ciaccio tossing a pair of touchdown passes, of nine yards to Jack Lavalette and 27 yards to Michael Lewis. Byron Hurt then put the Huskies on the scoreboard with a two-yard scoring run, but Andy Hertz blocked the extra point and took it back for a defensive two-point conversion after receiving a lateral from Rich Flauto. With less than a minute left before halftime, Mark Roman threw a 21-yard touchdown pass to Joe Riley, giving the Crusaders a 43-6 lead heading into the locker room. Most of Holy Cross' starters stayed on the sidelines during the second half, with the Crusaders only other points in the game coming on a 35-yard field goal by Scott Kania in the third quarter. Northeastern concluded the scoring with a 16-yard, fourth-quarter touchdown pass from Hurt to Calvin Johnson. Segreti rushed for 64 yards on 10 carries to lead the Holy Cross ground game, while Lewis had a team-best four catches for 101 yards. The Crusader defense held the Huskies to just 309 yards of total offense on the day, while allowing Northeastern to complete just four passes. Corey Vincent led Holy Cross with 11 total tackles, including three sacks and a fumble recovery.

Offense Shows Balance In Opener
During the season opening victory at Georgetown, Holy Cross showed that it has a number of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Junior quarterback Brian McSharry (Abington, Mass.) completed 16 of 30 attempts for 181 yards and a touchdown, while sophomore quarterback Dominic Randolph (Amelia, Ohio) hit on 10 of 15 passes for 79 yards before suffering an injury. Sophomore tailback Terrance Gass (Sicklerville, N.J.) led the team in rushing with 56 yards and a score on 15 carries, and sophomore tailback Mike Kielt (Southbury, Conn.) added 33 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries. The Crusaders were also very balanced in the receiving department, with four players catching at least four passes. Junior wide receiver Ryan Maher (Boca Raton, Fla.) led the team with seven catches for 62 yards, while senior wide out Matt Fanning (Marlborough, Mass.) added six receptions for 69 yards and a touchdown. In addition, junior wide receiver Thomas Harrison (Wilmington, N.C.) caught five passes for 56 yards, and sophomore wide out Jon Brock (Acworth, Ga.) brought in four receptions for 40 yards. All told, the balanced offensive attack was able to total 355 yards, 23 first downs and 26 points in the season opener.

Tradition Of Excellence
The 2006 campaign marks the 111th season of Holy Cross football. The Crusaders enter this week's game with an overall record of 563-454-54, good for a .551 winning percentage. Prior to the start of the 2006 season, Holy Cross' 562 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 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.

Kickers Look To Shine In 2006
Senior placekicker Mike DeSantis (Belle Mead, N.J.) and senior punter Ryan McManaway (Ferdinand, Ind.) give Holy Cross one of the top kicking tandems in the Patriot League. DeSantis, who was a second team All-Patriot League selection in 2004, enters this week's game having made 20 of 27 career field goal attempts and 103 of 114 career extra points for a total of 163 points. He already holds the school career record for field goal percentage (74.1 percent), while standing third all-time in career extra points made. McManaway was named second team All-Patriot League in 2005, and has averaged 34.4 yards on 160 punts during his collegiate career, while placing 27 kicks inside the opponents' 20-yard line. He enters this week's game ranked fifth all-time at Holy Cross in career punts, and sixth in career punting yards (5,511).

Nielsen Looks For Another Big Year
Senior linebacker Chris Nielsen (Center Line, Mich.) was one of the top players for the Holy Cross defense last season, and looks to return to that role in 2006. Last year he was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District I first team, for his outstanding work both on the field and in the classroom (3.43 grade point average in mathematics). On the season, Nielsen ranked second on the team with 72 total tackles, including 61 solo stops and a team-best eight tackles for loss. His top game of 2005 came in the 13-10 victory over 10th-ranked Lehigh, after which he was honored as the Sports Network National Defensive Player of the Week and the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week. Nielsen led the Crusader defense by forcing a fumble and recording 14 total tackles against Lehigh, including 13 solo stops and a tackle for loss. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Nielsen now has 97 total tackles, 81 solo tackles and 10 tackles for loss.

Holy Cross In The NCAA Statistics
Eight Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I-AA leaders in various statistical categories, through games of Sept. 2. Senior linebacker Dan Adams leads the way by standing third in tackles for loss and eighth in interceptions. The rankings:

 

Category           Rank  Player/Team         Avg.
Tackles For Loss      3  
Dan Adams            3.0
Field Goals           6  
Mike DeSantis        2.0
Interceptions         8  
Dan Adams            1.0
Receptions           11  
Ryan Maher           7.0
                     18  
Matt Fanning         6.0
                     39  
Thomas Harrison      5.0
Passing Yards        13  Holy Cross         260.0
                     28  
Brian McSharry     181.0
Turnover Margin      13  Holy Cross          +2.0
Passes Defended      15  Casey Cough          2.0
Completions          22  
Brian McSharry      16.0
Rushing Defense      25  Holy Cross          80.0
Scoring Defense      25  Holy Cross          13.0
Total Offense        25  Holy Cross         355.0
                     47  
Brian McSharry     163.0
Solo Tackles         31  
Dan Adams            6.0
Punt Returns         35  
Matt Fanning         3.5
Passing Efficiency   36  
Brian McSharry     115.0
                     43  
Dominic Randolph   110.9
Scoring              42  
Mike DeSantis        8.0

Crusaders Among League Leaders
Several Holy Cross players are currently ranked at or near the top of the Patriot League standings in a number of statistical categories, through games of Sept. 2. Junior quarterback Brian McSharry leads the conference in passing yards (181.0 yards/game) and passing efficiency (115.0 rating), and ranks second in total offense (163.0 yards/game), while senior wide receiver Matt Fanning stands first in punt returns (3.5 yards/return), and second in receptions (6.0 catches/game) and receiving yards (69.0 yards/game). Senior linebacker Dan Adams is tied for first in interceptions (1.0 picks/game), while sophomore quarterback Dominic Randolph stands third in passing efficiency (110.9 rating) and fifth in passing yards (79.0 yards/game). In addition, junior wide out Ryan Maher ranks first in receptions (7.0 catches per game) and third in receiving yards (62.0 yards/game), junior wide out Thomas Harrison stands third in receptions (5.0 catches/game) and fourth in receiving yards (56.0 yards/game), and senior placekicker Mike DeSantis ranks first in field goals (2.0 field goals/game) and second in scoring (8.0 points/game). As a team, Holy Cross leads the league in scoring defense (13.0 points/game), passing offense (260.0 yards/game), passing efficiency (113.6 rating) and turnover margin (+2.0 turnovers/game); stands second in scoring offense (26.0 points/game), rushing defense (80.0 yards/game), total offense (355.0 yards/game) and passing efficiency defense (104.2 rating); and ranks third in punt returns (3.5 yards/return).

Holy Cross Picked Fourth In Patriot League Preseason Poll
The 2006 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, Jordan Scott of Colgate has been named the preseason Offensive Player of the Year, Geoff Bean of Colgate was chosen as the preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and Micah Clukey of Fordham was selected as the preseason Special Teams Player of the Year.

 

Rank  School (1st place votes)   2005 Record  Points
  1.  Colgate (8)               8-4 / 5-1 PL      68
  2.  Lafayette (3)             8-4 / 5-1 PL      61
  3.  Lehigh (3)                8-3 / 4-2 PL      57
  4.  Holy Cross                6-5 / 3-3 PL      35
  5.  Fordham                   2-9 / 2-4 PL      33
  6.  Bucknell                 1-10 / 0-6 PL      27
  7.  Georgetown                4-7 / 2-4 PL      13

Head Coach Tom Gilmore
Tom Gilmore is in his third season as head coach at the College of the Holy Cross. He enters this week's game with an overall record of 10-13, as the Crusaders have won 10 of his last 17 games. Last year, 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.

Scouting The Huskies
Northeastern enters this week's game with an overall record of 0-1, following last week's 38-0 loss at Virginia Tech. Junior tailback Maurice Murray led the Huskies by rushing 18 times for 69 yards against the Hokies, while sophomore tailback Alex Broomfield had a team-best four receptions for 14 yards. Sophomore quarterback Anthony Orio completed 13 of 24 passes for 103 yards with two interceptions during the season opener. On the defensive side of the ball, senior free safety Lamar Gay and junior linebacker A.J. Lille both had seven tackles for Northeastern. The Huskies are coming off a 2005 season in which they went 2-9 overall and 2-6 in the Atlantic 10 Conference. Head coach Rocky Hager is in his third season at the helm of the Huskies' program, where he owns a 7-16 record. Hager's career mark stands at 98-41-1, including 10 years at North Dakota State, where his teams won the NCAA Division II national championship in 1988 and 1990.

Crusaders On The Radio
All of Holy Cross' games in 2006 will be on WTAG 580 AM, the true sports leader for the city of Worcester. Bob Fouracre will be in his 37th season calling the play-by-play for Holy Cross football, and his 21st 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, will be in his seventh year as the color commentator. 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 four games shown on live television during the 2006 season. Two home games this season will be televised on WCTR TV-3 (Worcester), against Brown on October 7 and Lehigh on October 28. In addition, the September 9 contest against Northeastern will be carried CN8 on Comcast Cable, while the November 11 game at Colgate will be shown by Time Warner Cable in Central New York.

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'.