September 11, 2006

Football Returns To Action At Harvard This Saturday

Sept. 11, 2006

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (1-1, 1-0 PL) vs. Harvard (0-0, 0-0 Ivy)
Date: September 16, 2006
Time: 12:30 p.m.
Place: Harvard Stadium (30,323), Cambridge, Mass.
Holy Cross Radio: www.sportsjuice.com, internet; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Tom Kelleher, color
Harvard Radio: WWZN 1510 AM, Boston; Bernie Corbett, play-by-play; Mike Giardi, color
Series Record: Harvard leads, 36-21-2
Last Meeting: Harvard 31, Holy Cross 21, September 17, 2005, Worcester, Mass.

The Series With Harvard
This will be the 60th meeting between the Crusaders and the Crimson on the gridiron, with Harvard leading the all-time series 36-21-2. Harvard has won the last four meetings and eight of the last nine, with the only Holy Cross victory during that time coming on Sept. 16, 2000, in Cambridge (27-25). For all games played at Harvard Stadium, the Crimson holds a 29-17-2 lead in the series, with two straight wins and four victories in the last five meetings. Holy Cross' Tom Gilmore is looking for his first victory against Harvard as a head coach, although he does have an 8-8 record against the Crimson as an assistant coach (at Pennsylvania, Columbia, Dartmouth and Lehigh), and a 2-2 mark as a player (at Pennsylvania).

Series Quick Facts
Overall: Harvard leads, 36-21-2
In Cambridge: Harvard leads, 29-17-2
At Harvard Stadium: Harvard leads, 29-17-2
Current Win Streak: Harvard, four games
Tom Gilmore vs. Harvard: 0-2
Tim Murphy vs. Holy Cross: 9-2
In Overtime: Harvard leads, 1-0

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. Last week against Northeastern, he led the team with 10 total tackles, including eight solo stops and two tackles for loss. In the season opener at Georgetown, Adams totaled eight tackles, with three tackles for loss, an interception, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup. Following the contest, Adams was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week, and received the Boston Globe Gold Helmet award. 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), Sacred Heart (nine total tackles) and Harvard (eight solo tackles). Over the course of his career as a Crusader, he has now totaled 226 total tackles, 180 solo stops and 11 tackles for loss.

Offense Shows Balance In 2006
During the first two games of the 2006 season, Holy Cross has shown that it has a number of weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Junior quarterback Brian McSharry (Abington, Mass.) has completed 35 of 53 attempts for 307 yards and two touchdowns, while sophomore quarterback Dominic Randolph (Amelia, Ohio) hit on 10 of 15 passes for 79 yards (before suffering an injury in the opener). Sophomore tailback Mike Kielt (Southbury, Conn.) has led the team in rushing with 102 yards and two scores on 24 carries, and sophomore tailback Terrance Gass (Sicklerville, N.J.) has added 96 yards and a touchdown on 23 carries. The Crusaders are also very balanced in the receiving department, with four players catching at least five passes. Junior wide receiver Ryan Maher (Boca Raton, Fla.) leads the team with 13 catches for 104 yards, while senior wide out Matt Fanning (Marlborough, Mass.) has added 10 receptions for 96 yards and a touchdown. In addition, junior wide receiver Thomas Harrison (Wilmington, N.C.) has caught five passes for 56 yards, and sophomore wide out Jon Brock (Acworth, Ga.) has brought in six receptions for 55 yards. All told, Holy Cross is averaging 20.0 points, 19.5 first downs and 297.0 yards per game.

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 563-455-54, good for a .550 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.

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 101 tackles, four interceptions and 16 pass breakups.

Holy Cross In The Patriot League
Holy Cross is now in its 21st season of play in the Patriot League. With the season-opening 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 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 57-53 (.518) in Patriot League action, winning five titles (1986, 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991).

The Last Meeting With Harvard
Casey Gough made six tackles and returned an interception for a touchdown, but it was not enough as 19th-ranked Harvard posted a 31-21 victory over the Crusaders at Fitton Field on Sept. 17, 2005. Following punts on the first three possessions of the game, Gough intercepted a pass by Richard Irvin and returned it 42 yards to the end zone, giving Holy Cross a 7-0 lead. Later in the first quarter, Harvard's Liam O'Hagan threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Corey Mazza, tying the score at 7-7. The Crimson took their first lead in the second quarter on a two-yard scoring run by Clifton Dawson, but the Crusaders came back to tie the score at 14-14 on a two-yard touchdown pass from John O'Neil to Bob Turkovich. Harvard regained the lead later in the second quarter on a 22-yard scoring run by O'Hagan, but Matt Schindel missed a 35-yard extra point attempt following a personal foul, and the Crimson led 20-14 at the break. Holy Cross came out and dominated play in the third quarter, holding Harvard to just 50 yards and no points on three possessions, but was only able to take a 21-20 lead. The Crusaders drove deep into Harvard territory on their opening possession of the half, but after Gideon Akande appeared to be down at the seven-yard line, the ball came loose and the Crimson took over. Later in the quarter, Steve Silva scored on a one-yard touchdown run to cap a 13-play, 79-yard drive, giving Holy Cross the lead. The Crusaders drove into Harvard territory early in the fourth quarter, but a key third down holding penalty halted the drive, giving Harvard a chance to get back in the game. The Crimson later took a 28-21 lead on a 48-yard touchdown pass from O'Hagan to Ryan Tyler, and would add a 23-yard field goal by Schindel to conclude the scoring. O'Neil led the Crusader offense by completing 18 of 38 passes for 147 yards and a score, while O'Hagan hit on 15 of 24 attempts for 258 yards and two touchdowns with an interception for the Crimson.

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 105 of 116 career extra points for a total of 165 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 34.5 yards on 165 punts during his collegiate career, while placing 30 kicks inside the opponents' 20-yard line. He enters this week's game ranked fourth all-time at Holy Cross in career punts, and sixth in career punting yards (5,693).

Crusaders Dominate Turnover Battle
Holy Cross looks to be strong in the turnover department once again this year, having forced three turnovers so far this season while losing the ball only twice. 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 20 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 eight fumbles over their last 13 contests.

Nielsen Looks For Another Big Year
Senior linebacker Chris Nielsen (Center Line, Mich.) is one of the top players for the Holy Cross defense this season, having totaled nine tackles with a tackle for loss and a pass breakup through two games. 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). During the 2005 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 103 total tackles, 85 solo tackles and 11 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 342-162-27 (.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 14-20 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.

Holy Cross In The NCAA Statistics
Six Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I-AA leaders in various statistical categories, through games of Sept. 9. Senior linebacker Dan Adams leads the way by standing fifth in tackles for loss and eighth in solo tackles. The rankings:

 

Category           Rank  Player/Team        Avg.
Tackles For Loss      5  
Dan Adams           2.5
Solo Tackles          8  
Dan Adams           7.0
Receptions           12  
Ryan Maher          6.5
                     34  
Matt Fanning        5.0
Completions          20  
Brian McSharry     17.5
Field Goals          20  
Mike DeSantis       1.0
Interceptions        33  
Dan Adams           0.5
                     33  
Blake Potolicchio   0.5
Punt Returns         37  
Matt Fanning        7.7
Passing Efficiency   40  
Brian McSharry    127.1
Passing Yards        48  
Brian McSharry    153.5

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. 9. Junior wide out Ryan Maher leads the conference in receptions (6.5 catches/game) and ranks fourth in receiving yards (52.0 yards/game), while senior wide receiver Matt Fanning stands second in punt returns (7.7 yards/return) and receptions (5.0 catches/game), and fifth in recieving yards (48.0 yards/game). Junior quarterback Brian McSharry stands third in the league in passing yards (153.5 yards/game) and passing efficiency (127.1 rating), while placing fourth in total offense (142.0 yards/game). In addition, senior placekicker Mike DeSantis ranks first in field goals (1.0 field goals/game); sophomore tailbacks Terrance Gass and Mike Kielt are tied for second in the league in scoring (6.0 points/game); and senior linebacker Dan Adams and senior defensive back Blake Potolicchio (Bethesda, Md.) are tied for second in the conference in interceptions (0.5 picks/game). As a team, Holy Cross leads the league in passing offense (193.0 yards/game), while ranking third in scoring offense (20.0 points/game), total offense (297.0 yards/game), turnover margin (+0.5 turnovers/game), passing efficiency (123.6 rating) and passing efficiency defense (107.5 rating).

Crusaders Have Four Captains
Holy Cross has four captains for the 2006 football season. Senior linebacker Dan Adams, senior cornerback Casey Gough, senior fullback Frank Herlihy (West Seneca, N.Y.) and senior linebacker Chris Nielsen were named the team's captains by head coach Tom Gilmore following the conclusion of spring practice. This will mark only the 11th time that the Crusaders have had four captains for a season, with the last occasion coming in 2002 (Ari Confesor, Steve Fox, Ben Koller and Nick Larsen).

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 10-14, as the Crusaders have won 10 of his last 18 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.

HC Picked Fourth In Preseason Poll
The 2006 Crusaders were 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

Scouting The Crimson
Harvard is coming off a 2005 campaign in which it posted a 7-3 record and finished second in the Ivy League with a 5-2 mark in conference games. Senior running back Clifton Dawson returns to lead the Crimson, after rushing for 1,139 yards and 11 touchdowns on 258 carries last year. He is expected to be joined in the backfield by junior quarterback Chris Pizzotti, who missed all of the 2005 campaign due to injury. The Crimson defense, which allowed 22.4 points and 310.6 yards per game last year, will be led by senior linebacker Ryan Tully. Last season, Tully totaled 61 tackles, 14 tackles for loss and two sacks. Head coach Tim Murphy is in his 13th season at the helm of the Harvard program, where he has a record of 73-46. Murphy's career record stands at 105-91-1, including five seasons as the head coach at Cincinnati and two years as head coach at Maine.

Crusaders On The Radio
Ten of Holy Cross' 11 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 was carried by 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'.