Crusaders Travel To Lehigh For Key Patriot League Game

Oct. 3, 2005

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (3-2, 1-0 PL) vs. #10 Lehigh (3-1, 0-0 PL)
Date: October 8, 2005
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Goodman Stadium (16,000), Bethlehem, Pa.
Television: Fox College Sports Atlantic; Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh; Service Electric Cable; Mike Zambelli, play-by-play; Mike Yadush, color
Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Tom Kelleher, color; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Lehigh Radio: WEEX 1230 AM, Easton, Pa.; WTKZ 1320 AM, Allentown, Pa.; Matt Kerr, play-by-play; Marty Horn, color
Series Record: Lehigh leads, 11-8-1
Last Meeting: Lehigh 42, Holy Cross 14; October 9, 2004; Worcester, Mass.

The Series With Lehigh
This will be the 21st meeting between the Crusaders and the Mountain Hawks on the gridiron, with Lehigh leading the all-time series 11-8-1. After a 3-3 tie in the first meeting between the schools on Nov. 8, 1924, Holy Cross won the next seven meetings. Since then, the Mountain Hawks have won 11 out of 12 games, including each of the last seven. The only victory for the Crusaders during that time came on Nov 8, 1997, when Holy Cross won 20-14 in Bethlehem. For contests played in Bethlehem, Lehigh holds a 5-4 lead in the series, winning three straight games.

Series Quick Facts
Overall: Lehigh leads, 11-8-1
At Bethlehem: Lehigh leads, 5-4
At Goodman Stadium: Lehigh leads, 5-3
Current Win Streak: Lehigh, 7 games
Tom Gilmore vs. Lehigh: 0-1
Pete Lembo vs. Holy Cross: 4-0

Gough Steps Up In The Secondary
Junior cornerback Casey Gough (Hinsdale, Ill.) has turned in some outstanding performances for the Crusaders so far in the 2005 season. In last week's victory at Yale, Gough recorded a career-high 11 tackles, including 10 solo stops, with two tackles for loss, an interception and a safety to earn Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week honors. At the 2:51 mark of the first quarter, he posted a six-yard tackle for loss in the end zone for a safety, giving Holy Cross a 5-0 lead. Gough later intercepted a pass at the Holy Cross 38-yard line to halt a Yale drive in the third quarter. He also blocked an extra point with 10:09 remaining in the fourth quarter, allowing Holy Cross to keep a two-possession lead at 15-6. Gough was also named 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. Through five games on the year, he leads the team with three interceptions and 53 interception return yards. Gough also ranks third on the squad with 28 tackles, including 26 solo stops, and has one pass breakup. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Gough has now totaled 76 tackles, four interceptions and nine pass breakups.

Crusaders Dominate Turnover Battle
Through five games so far this season, Holy Cross has forced its opponents to commit 11 turnovers, while giving the ball away only two times. The Crusader defense has posted seven interceptions so far this year, in addition to recovering four fumbles. Junior cornerback Casey Gough leads the team with three interceptions on the season, while senior cornerback Tyler Nugent (White Plains, N.Y.) has a pair of picks. 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.

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 at Yale, he recorded 250 all-purpose yards, including an 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to secure the victory. In the previous game at Delaware, Silva accounted for 279 total yards, including 106 rushing yards and a touchdown on 24 carries. Earlier this season 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 has also received a number of honors this year, following the Yale (Sports Network National Special Teams Player of the Week, Patriot League Special Teams Player of the Week), Georgetown (Boston Globe Gold Helmet, Johnny Turco Memorial Award) and Sacred Heart (Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week) contests. Through five games so far this season, Silva now has 988 all-purpose yards while accounting for 10 touchdowns. He currently leads the team in both rushing (430 yards and six scores on 93 carries) and receptions (28 catches for 196 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 2,163 yards and 28 touchdowns on 519 carries, while catching 128 passes for 1,022 yards and two scores, becoming the first player in school history to record 2,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards. Entering this week's game, Silva ranks second all-time at Holy Cross in career rushing touchdowns, third in total touchdowns scored (31), fifth in all-purpose yards (4,007), sixth in rushing yards and seventh in receptions.

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 five games so far this year, O'Neil has completed 85 of 150 attempts for 908 yards and seven touchdowns with just one interception, in addition to catching two touchdown passes. His top game so far this year came 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 494 of 881 passes for 5,504 yards and 44 touchdowns, becoming 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 (5,929).

Defense Stepping Up In 2005
The Holy Cross defense is much improved this season, as shown by its performances in the first five games of the year. Its top performance so far this year came in the victory over Georgetown, as 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 at Yale last week, holding the Bulldogs scoreless for the first three quarters of the game. Overall this year, Holy Cross opponents are averaging 402.6 yards, 22.4 points and 21.0 first downs per contest, including games against two of the top offenses in the nation (Delaware stands 19th in scoring offense, while Harvard ranks eighth in total offense). In addition, the Crusaders have forced a total of 11 turnovers on the season, with seven 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 Lehigh
Lehigh quarterback Mark Borda threw five touchdown passes, including four in the first half, to lead the Mountain Hawks to a 42-14 victory over Holy Cross at Fitton Field. Lehigh rolled up a 35-7 halftime lead, striking quickly with touchdowns on each of its first three possessions. On Lehigh's fourth offensive play, Borda found Kevin Zebluim in the back of the end zone for a nine-yard score. Borda then engineered a three-play, 63-yard drive on Lehigh's next possession, connecting with Marques Thompson on a 32-yard screen pass for another touchdown. Adam Bergen then caught a 13-yard scoring pass over the middle, extending the lead to 21-0 with 13:25 left in first half. Holy Cross got on the board when Steve Silva, culminating an 11-play, 76-yard drive, ran four yards to cut the lead to 21-7. An ensuing onside kick was recovered by Lehigh, and the Mountain Hawks marched 48 yards on eight plays, with Eric Rath scoring on a four-yard run. Borda also connected with Gerran Walker for a 33-yard touchdown before halftime. Holy Cross linebacker Kyle Trodden intercepted a Borda pass and returned it 20 yards for a score in the third quarter, making it 35-14. Borda's fifth touchdown pass was an 18-yarder to Bergen in the fourth quarter to conclude the scoring. Borda was 18 of 24 for 295 yards on the day, and received the Johnny Turco Award as the Most Valuable Player of Holy Cross' Homecoming game. Silva led Holy Cross with 161 all-purpose yards.

Offense Looking Impressive During 2005 Season
The Crusader offense has put up some big numbers in the first five games of the 2005 season. So far this year, Holy Cross has averaged 34.0 points, 19.8 first downs and 356.6 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 165 passing attempts so far this year, Holy Cross has thrown only one interception, while in 186 rushing attempts they have lost just one fumble. In addition, Holy Cross' 170 points scored over the first five weeks of the year are its most in a five-game span since the 1991 season (42-28 win over Brown, 43-42 victory at Lehigh, 48-14 win vs. Lafayette, 42-6 victory at Bucknell and 24-19 victory over Fordham).

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. Last week at Yale, he ranked second on the team with four catches for 45 yards, while scoring a nine-yard rushing touchdown on a reverse. In the previous contest at Delaware, Gruber had a season-best five receptions for 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Through five games on the year, he leads the team with 307 receiving yards and four touchdown catches, while averaging 19.2 yards on his 16 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 101 receptions for 1,580 yards and 17 scores. He currently ranks eighth 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).

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 Oct. 1. Senior tailback Steve Silva leads the nation in all-purpose yards, while standing 15th in kickoff returns and 17th in points scored. The rankings:

 

Category               Rank  Player/Team     Avg.
All-Purpose Yards         1  
Steve Silva    197.6
Turnovers Lost            1  Holy Cross       0.4
Turnover Margin           3  Holy Cross      +1.8
Solo Tackles              3  
Dan Adams        7.4
                         40  
Casey Gough      5.2
                         40  
Chris Nielsen    5.2
Fewest Penalties          7  Holy Cross       4.0
Kickoff Returns          15  
Steve Silva     27.6
                         27  Holy Cross      22.1
Fewest Penalty Yards     17  Holy Cross      40.0
Scoring                  17  
Steve Silva      9.6
                         28  Holy Cross      34.0
Interceptions            19  Holy Cross       1.4
                         24  
Casey Gough      0.6
Receptions               25  
Steve Silva      5.6
Punt Returns             29  
Steve Silva     11.4
Completions              33  
John O'Neil     17.0
Points Responsible For   38  
Steve Silva     10.0
Rushing Yards            40  
Steve Silva     86.0

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 Fox College Sports Atlantic, Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh and 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'.

Adams Leading Crusader Defense
Junior linebacker Dan Adams (Springfield, Va.) has been the leader of the Holy Cross defense so far this season. He ranked second on the team with nine tackles in last week's victory at Yale, while making a team-high 10 tackles at Delaware and posting eight solo tackles 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 five games this year, Adams has 45 total tackles, including 37 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 138 tackles, 106 solo stops and four tackles for loss.

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 Oct. 1. Senior tailback Steve Silva ranks first in the conference in all-purpose yards (197.6 yards/game), first in receptions (5.6 catches/game), first in kickoff returns (27.6 yards/return), second in scoring (9.6 points/game), second in rushing (86.0 yards/game) and fourth in punt returns (11.4 yards/return), while senior quarterback John O'Neil stands second in passing yards (181.6 yards/game), second in total offense (198.2 yards/game) and third in passing efficiency (121.6 rating). In addition, senior wide receiver Sean Gruber ranks second in receiving yards (61.4 yards/game), junior placekicker Mike DeSantis (Belle Mead, N.J.) stands first in extra point percentage (100.0 percent), junior cornerback Casey Gough ranks third in interceptions (0.6 picks/game) and junior punter Ryan McManaway (Ferdinand, Ind.) stands second in punting (36.2 yards/punt). As a team, Holy Cross leads the league in turnover margin (+1.8 turnovers/game); stands second in scoring offense (34.0 points/game), total offense (356.6 yards/game), passing offense (204.2 yards/game) and kickoff returns (22.1 yards/return); and ranks third in rushing offense (152.4 yards/game) and pass efficiency (127.7 rating).

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 6-10, as the Crusaders have won six of his last 11 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.

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 559-451-54, good for a .551 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.

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 record 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.

Scouting The Mountain Hawks
Lehigh enters this week's game with an overall record of 3-1 on the season, and will be playing its Patriot League opener. The Mountain Hawks are ranked 10th in the nation by the Sports Network, following last week's 49-24 victory over previously unbeaten Harvard. The Lehigh offense is led by senior quarterback Mark Borda, who has completed 99 of 151 passes on the season for 1,186 yards and nine touchdowns with seven interceptions. Junior tailback Eric Rath has rushed for 279 yards and nine scores on 67 carries, while senior wide out Gerran Walker has 22 catches for 305 yards and three touchdowns. The Mountain Hawk defense is led by senior linebacker Anthony Graziani, who has totaled 36 tackles, two interceptions and three sacks on the year. Pete Lembo has a 39-12 record during his four seasons as the head coach at Lehigh. Lembo previously served for three seasons as an assistant coach for the Mountain Hawks, in addition to spending time at Hampden-Sydney, Dartmouth and Albany.

Quick Hits
Lehigh head coach Pete Lembo spent three years as the tight ends coach at Dartmouth from 1994-1996, when he worked alongside Holy Cross head coach Tom Gilmore and defensive line coach Pat O'Leary ... The Crusader offense has scored points on 21 of its 23 trips into the red zone this season, with 18 touchdowns and three field goals ... 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).