Crusader Football Hits The Road For Game At Yale

Sept. 26, 2005

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (2-2, 1-0 PL) vs. Yale (1-1, 1-0 Ivy)
Date: October 1, 2005
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Yale Bowl (64,269), New Haven, Conn.
Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Tom Kelleher, color; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Holy Cross Student Radio: WCHC 88.1 FM, Worcester
Yale Radio: WELI 960 AM, Hamden, Conn.; Dick Galiette, play-by-play; Carm Cozza, color; www.weli.com, internet
Series Record: Yale leads, 25-3
Last Meeting: Yale 41, Holy Cross 16; October 4, 2003; Worcester, Mass.

The Series With Yale
This will be the 29th meeting between the Crusaders and the Bulldogs on the gridiron, with Yale leading the all-time series 25-3. The Bulldogs have won 11 straight games in the series, with the last victory for the Crusaders coming on Oct. 2, 1982. Yale's current 11-game winning streak against Holy Cross matches its longest string of consecutive wins in the series, as the Bulldogs also won the first 11 games played between the schools, from 1903-1913. In addition, Yale has won the last six meetings played in New Haven, with the last Holy Cross win at the Yale Bowl coming in 1982. For all games played in New Haven, the Bulldogs hold a 19-3 advantage.

Series Quick Facts
Overall: Yale leads, 25-3
At New Haven: Yale leads, 19-3
At the Yale Bowl: Yale leads, 8-3
Current Win Streak: Yale, 11 games
Tom Gilmore vs. Yale: 0-0
Jack Siedlecki vs. Holy Cross: 6-0

Silva Shines In Senior Season
Senior tailback Steve Silva (East Providence, R.I.) has turned in some outstanding performances for the Crusaders so far in the 2005 season. Last week against Delaware, Silva accounted for 279 total yards, including 106 rushing yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Previously in the victory over Georgetown, he rushed 20 times for 110 yards and a touchdown, in addition to catching eight passes for 61 yards and returning three punts for 49 yards. Silva also had a big game in the season opener against Sacred Heart, accounting for 179 total yards against the Pioneers, while having a hand in six of the Crusaders' eight touchdowns (three rushing, two passing and one receiving). He received the Boston Globe Gold Helmet and the Johnny Turco Memorial Award following the Georgetown game, while earning Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week honors after the Sacred Heart contest. Through four games so far this season, Silva now has 738 all-purpose yards while accounting for nine touchdowns. He currently leads the team in both rushing (338 yards and six scores on 75 carries) and receptions (20 catches for 144 yards and a touchdown). Silva's outstanding start to the year comes on the heels of a 2004 season in which he also led the team in both rushing yards (708 yards on 161 carries) and receptions (60 catches for 507 yards), in addition to scoring a team-high 11 touchdowns. Over the course of his four-year career as a Crusader, Silva has rushed for 2,017 yards and 28 touchdowns on 501 carries, while catching 120 passes for 970 yards and two scores. Entering this week's game, he ranks second all-time at Holy Cross in career rushing touchdowns, third in total touchdowns scored (30), fifth in all-purpose yards (3,757), seventh in rushing yards and eighth in receptions. With 30 receiving yards against Yale, Silva can become the first player in school history to record 2,000 career rushing yards and 1,000 career receiving yards.

Crusaders Continue To Dominate Turnover Battle In 2005
Through four games so far this season, Holy Cross has forced its opponents to commit nine turnovers, while giving the ball away only two times. The Crusader defense has posted five interceptions so far this year, in addition to recovering four fumbles. Junior cornerback Casey Gough (Hinsdale, Ill.) leads the team with two interceptions on the season, while seven other players have either intercepted a pass or recovered a fumble. The Holy Cross defense has also been incredibly consistent, as it has forced at least one turnover in every game so far this year. On the offensive side of the ball, the Crusaders have thrown just one interception this season, and have lost only one fumble (which came on a play where the runner's knee appeared to be down before the ball came loose).

Offense Looking Impressive During 2005 Season
The Crusader offense has put up some big numbers in the first four games of the 2005 season. So far this year, Holy Cross has averaged 37.0 points, 20.5 first downs and 366.8 yards of total offense per contest. The Crusaders have been amazingly consistent, scoring over 20 points in every game this year, while recording 395 or more yards of total offense three times. Holy Cross has also avoided turnovers so far in 2005, as the Crusaders have only given the ball away two times this season. In 132 passing attempts so far this year, Holy Cross has thrown only one interception, while in 150 rushing attempts they have lost just one fumble. In addition, Holy Cross' 148 points scored over the first four weeks of the year are its most in a four-game span since the 1991 season (42-28 win over Brown, 43-42 victory at Lehigh, 48-14 win vs. Lafayette and 42-6 victory at Bucknell).

O'Neil Leading Aerial Attack
Senior quarterback John O'Neil (White Plains, N.Y.) is now in his third year as the starting signal caller for Holy Cross. In four games so far this year, O'Neil has completed 68 of 117 attempts for 763 yards and seven touchdowns, in addition to catching two touchdown passes. His top game so far this year came last week at Delaware, when he connected on 17 of 32 attempts for a season-high 236 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Last season, O'Neil completed 193 of 356 attempts for 2,022 yards and 18 touchdowns. He finished 2004 ranked third in the Patriot League in both passing yards and total offense, while placing ninth on the Holy Cross single season list for passing yards. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, O'Neil has now completed 477 of 848 passes for 5,359 yards and 44 touchdowns, and is only the fourth player in school history to throw for 5,000 career yards. O'Neil is currently ranked fourth all-time at Holy Cross in career completions, attempts, passing yards, passing touchdowns, completion percentage (56.3) and yards of total offense (5,752).

Defense Stepping Up In 2005
The Holy Cross defense is much improved this season, as shown by its performances in the first four games of the year. In the victory over Georgetown, the Crusaders held the Hoyas to only 268 yards of total offense and six points. Holy Cross was particularly impressive in the first half, when it held Georgetown to just 21 yards, two first downs and no points, with the Hoyas longest drive going for only nine yards. The Crusaders also played well in the season opener against Sacred Heart, as the Pioneers were held to 349 yards and 21 points. Overall this year, Holy Cross opponents are averaging 391.8 yards, 23.2 points and 19.3 first downs per contest, including games against two of the top offenses in the nation (Delaware stands 15th in scoring offense and 35th in total offense, while Harvard ranks 24th in scoring offense and seventh in total offense). In addition, the Crusaders have forced a total of nine turnovers on the season, with five interceptions and four fumble recoveries. Last year, Holy Cross allowed its opponents to average 33.4 points and 412.0 yards per game.

The Last Meeting With Yale
Yale racked up 447 yards of total offense and converted on all six of its red zone opportunities, as it posted a 41-16 victory over Holy Cross at Fitton Field. The Bulldogs opened the scoring with a two-yard touchdown run by Alvin Cowan, before the Crusaders made the score 7-3 early in the second quarter on a 24-yard field goal by Mike DeSantis. Yale increased its lead to 17-3 on a 27-yard scoring run by Robert Carr and a 30-yard field goal from John Troost, before Steve Silva's two-yard touchdown run made the score 17-9. Troost added a 36-yard field goal late in the second quarter, to give the Bulldogs a 20-9 lead at the break. In the second half, Cowan threw a pair of touchdown passes to Ron Benigno and David Knox added a scoring run, allowing Yale to build a 41-9 lead in the fourth quarter. The Crusaders then concluded the scoring with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Brian Schiller to Nick Larsen. Silva finished the game with 61 yards on 30 carries, while John O'Neil completed 14 of 27 attempts for 112 yards. In addition, Ari Confesor, Sean Gruber, Silva and Larsen all had four receptions for Holy Cross. Cowan completed 15 of 19 attempts for 212 yards to lead the Bulldogs, while Carr rushed 19 times for 117 yards. Defensively, Holy Cross was led by Ben Koller and Mark Balestracci with eight tackles each. Mike Handlon posted a game-high 10 tackles for Yale.

Holy Cross In The NCAA Statistics
Five Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I-AA leaders in various statistical categories, through games of Sept. 24. Senior tailback Steve Silva stands fifth in the nation in all-purpose yards and 11th in points scored. The rankings:

 

Category               Rank  Player/Team      Avg.
Turnovers Lost            2  Holy Cross        0.5
Solo Tackles              4  
Dan Adams         7.8
All-Purpose Yards         5  
Steve Silva     184.5
Fewest Penalties          5  Holy Cross        4.0
Turnover Margin           7  Holy Cross       +1.8
Scoring                  11  
Steve Silva      10.5
                         15  Holy Cross       37.0
Fewest Penalty Yards     16  Holy Cross       38.2
Punt Returns             21  
Steve Silva      13.4
                         23  Holy Cross       13.6
Interceptions            26  Holy Cross        1.3
                         28  
Casey Gough       0.5
Points Responsible For   28  
John O'Neil      13.5
                         28  
Steve Silva      13.5
Completions              30  
John O'Neil      17.0
Kickoff Returns          34  
Gideon Akande    25.2
Receptions               38  
Steve Silva       5.0
Rushing Yards            38  
Steve Silva      84.5

Gough Steps Up In The Secondary
Junior cornerback Casey Gough has had a strong start to the 2005 season. Through four games on the year, he leads the team with two interceptions and 53 interception return yards. Gough also ranks fifth on the squad with 17 tackles, including 16 solo stops, and has one pass breakup. He was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week following the Harvard game, after making six tackles and scoring the first touchdown of his collegiate career on a 42-yard interception return in the first quarter. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Gough has now totaled 65 tackles, three interceptions and nine pass breakups.

Gruber Enjoying Another Big Year
Senior wide receiver Sean Gruber (Richwood, Ky.) continues to be one of the top threats in the Holy Cross passing game this season. In last week's game at Delaware, Gruber had a season-best five receptions for 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Through four games on the year, he leads the team with 262 receiving yards and four touchdown catches, while averaging 21.8 yards on his 12 catches. Last season, Gruber led the team with 720 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns, while ranking second on the team with 48 catches. He finished last year ranked third in the Patriot League in receiving yards and fifth in receptions. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Gruber now has 97 receptions for 1,535 yards and 17 scores. He currently ranks ninth all-time at Holy Cross in career receiving yards, while his 17 career touchdown catches stand only two shy of the school record (19 by Ari Confesor from 2000-2003).

Adams Leading Crusader Defense
Junior linebacker Dan Adams (Springfield, Va.) has been the leader of the Holy Cross defense so far this season. He made a team-high 10 tackles in last week's game at Delaware, while posting eight solo tackles in the previous contest against Harvard. In the victory over Georgetown, Adams totaled nine tackles with two tackles for loss and a sack, while he also posted nine total tackles in the season opener against Sacred Heart. Through four games this year, Adams has 36 total tackles, including 31 solo stops, two tackles for loss and a sack. A year ago, Adams ranked second on the team with 57 tackles, 43 of them being solo. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, he has now totaled 129 tackles, 100 solo stops and four tackles for loss.

Crusaders On The Radio
All of Holy Cross' games in 2005 will be on WTAG 580 AM, the true sports leader for the city of Worcester. Bob Fouracre will be in his 36th season calling the play-by-play for Holy Cross football, and his 20th 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 sixth 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 have four games shown on live television during the 2005 season. Two home games this season will be televised on WCTR TV-3 (Worcester), against Sacred Heart on September 3 and Dartmouth on October 15. In addition, the October 8 contest at Lehigh will be carried by Service Electric Cable Television, while the November 12 game against Lafayette will be shown by the Lafayette Sports Network (RCN on Lehigh Valley Cable and WBPH TV-60 in Allentown, 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'.

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. 24. Senior tailback Steve Silva ranks second in the conference in scoring (10.5 points/game), second in rushing (84.5 yards/game), second in all-purpose yards (166.7 yards/game), second in receptions (5.0 catches/game), fourth in punt returns (13.4 yards/return) and fourth in kickoff returns (21.3 yards/return), while senior quarterback John O'Neil stands second in passing efficiency (130.9 rating), second in passing yards (190.8 yards/game) and second in total offense (203.5 yards/game). In addition, senior wide receiver Sean Gruber ranks second in receiving yards (65.5 yards/game), senior running back Gideon Akande (Chicago, Ill.) stands third in kickoff returns (25.2 yards/return), junior placekicker Mike DeSantis (Belle Mead, N.J.) ranks first in extra point percentage (100.0 percent), junior cornerback Casey Gough stands third in interceptions (0.5 picks/game) and senior wide receiver Bob Turkovich (Bedford, Pa.) ranks fifth in receptions (4.5 catches/game). As a team, Holy Cross leads the league in turnover margin (+1.8 turnovers/game); stands second in scoring offense (37.0 points/game), total offense (366.8 yards/game), passing offense (219.0 yards/game) and pass efficiency (137.6 rating); and ranks third in rushing offense (147.8 yards/game) and kickoff returns (19.5 yards/return).

Head Coach Tom Gilmore
Tom Gilmore is in his second season as head coach at the College of the Holy Cross. He enters this week's game with an overall record of 5-10, as the Crusaders have won five of his last 10 games. Gilmore came to Holy Cross after serving as defensive coordinator at Lehigh University 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.

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 341-159-27 (.673). 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 mark of 13-17 at home. Holy Cross has a 2-1 mark at Fitton Field so far this year, and has a chance to post its first winning record at home since the 2001 team went 3-2. The Crusaders are scheduled to play three more contests at home this year.

Tradition Of Excellence
The 2005 campaign marks the 110th season of Holy Cross football. The Crusaders enter this week's game with an overall record of 558-451-54, good for a .550 winning percentage. Entering the 2005 season, Holy Cross' 556 all-time victories ranked as the 13th 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.

Crusaders Have Tri-Captains In 2005
Holy Cross has three captains for the 2005 football season, as senior running back Gideon Akande, senior quarterback John O'Neil and senior tailback Steve Silva were elected as the team's tri-captains. Silva, who was also a co-captain during the 2004 campaign, becomes only the ninth 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) and Brian Hall (2001-2002).

Scouting The Bulldogs
Yale enters this week's game with an overall record of 1-1 on the season, and a 1-0 mark in the Ivy League. The Bulldogs posted a 37-17 victory over Cornell last week, after falling 17-14 at San Diego in their season opener. Yale quarterback Jeff Mroz has completed 36 of 63 attempts on the season for 495 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions. Junior wide receiver Ashley Wright has 10 receptions for 241 yards and three scores, while freshman tailback Mike McLeod has rushed for 168 yards and a touchdown on 40 carries. Senior cornerback Mike Holben leads the Bulldog defense with 19 tackles so far this year, junior linebacker Lee Driftmier has 18 tackles with an interception and a fumble recovery. Head coach Jack Siedlecki has a 44-37 record during his nine seasons at Yale. His career record stands at 100-59-2, including four years at Amherst College and five seasons at Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

Quick Hits
Freshman running back Terrance Gass (Sicklerville, N.J.) was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week following the Georgetown game. Gass rushed eight times for 56 yards and his first collegiate touchdown against the Hoyas ... With the victory over Georgetown, Holy Cross won its Patriot League opener for the sixth time in the last eight years, and improved its all-time mark in conference openers to 12-8 ... Three assistant coaches on the Holy Cross staff have been head coaches on the collegiate level. Offensive coordinator Bob Griffin was the head coach at Idaho State (1972-1975) and Rhode Island (1976-1992), defensive coordinator David Kotulski was the head coach at Bucknell (2002), and running backs coach Dave Patenaude was the head coach at New Haven (2002-2003).