October 10, 2005

Holy Cross Football Returns Home To Face Dartmouth

Oct. 10, 2005

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (4-2, 2-0 PL) vs. Dartmouth (1-3, 0-2 Ivy)
Date: October 15, 2005
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Fitton Field (23,500), Worcester, Mass.
Television: WCTR TV-3, Worcester; Kevin Shea, play-by-play; Andy Lacombe, color
Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Tom Kelleher, color; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Dartmouth Radio: WDCR 1340 AM & WFRD 99.3 FM, Hanover, N.H.; Bob Lipman, play-by-play; Wayne Young, color
Series Record: Dartmouth leads, 34-30-4
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 24, Dartmouth 0; October 16, 2004; Hanover, N.H.

The Series With Dartmouth
This will be the 67th meeting between the Crusaders and the Big Green on the gridiron, with Dartmouth leading the all-time series 34-30-4. Holy Cross won 24-0 in Hanover last year, but prior to that Dartmouth had won two straight and six out of the last eight games in the series. For games played in Worcester, the Big Green hold a 13-12-1 lead over the Crusaders, winning three of its last four trips to Fitton Field. The schools first met on October 3, 1903, with the Big Green posting an 18-0 victory in Hanover.

Series Quick Facts
Overall: Dartmouth leads, 34-30-4
At Worcester: Dartmouth leads, 13-12-1
At Fitton Field: Dartmouth leads, 13-12-1
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, one game
Tom Gilmore vs. Dartmouth: 1-0
Buddy Teevens vs. Holy Cross: 0-5

Crusaders Dominate Turnover Battle
Through six games so far this season, Holy Cross has forced its opponents to commit 14 turnovers, while giving the ball away only two times. The Crusader defense has posted seven interceptions so far this year, in addition to recovering seven fumbles. Junior cornerback Casey Gough (Hinsdale, Ill.) leads the team with three interceptions on the season, while senior cornerback Tyler Nugent (White Plains, N.Y.) has a pair of interceptions and sophomore strong safety Kent Flanders (Atlanta, Ga.) has added a pair of fumble recoveries. 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.

Defense Stepping Up In 2005
The Holy Cross defense is much improved this season, as shown by its performances in the first six games of the year. The Crusaders are coming off an outstanding performance in last week's victory over Lehigh, as they gave up just 289 yards of total offense and 10 points, while recovering three of the Mountain Hawks' 11 fumbles. Holy Cross also played well in the win over Georgetown (allowing 268 yards of total offense and six points), while holding Yale scoreless for the first three quarters and allowing just 19 points to the Bulldogs. Overall this year, Crusader opponents are averaging 383.7 yards, 20.3 points and 20.3 first downs per contest, including games against Lehigh (which averages 34.8 points and 373.4 yards per game), Delaware (29.6 points and 386.6 yards per game) and Harvard (26.5 points and 420.8 yards per game). In addition, the Crusaders have forced a total of 14 turnovers on the season, with seven interceptions and seven fumble recoveries. Last year, Holy Cross allowed its opponents to average 33.4 points and 412.0 yards per game.

Silva Shines In Senior Season
Walter Payton Award candidate Steve Silva (East Providence, R.I.) has turned in some outstanding performances for the Crusaders so far in the 2005 season. In last week's upset victory over 10th-ranked Lehigh, Silva totaled 152 all-purpose yards with a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown to lead Holy Cross to the come-from-behind win. The previous 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. Silva also had big games earlier in the season at Delaware (279 total yards, including 106 rushing yards and a touchdown on 24 carries), Georgetown (20 rushes for 110 yards and a touchdown, eight receptions for 61 yards, three punt returns for 49 yards) and Sacred Heart (179 total yards and six touchdowns -- three rushing, two passing and one receiving). Through six games so far this season, Silva now has 1,140 all-purpose yards while accounting for 11 touchdowns. He currently leads the team in rushing (468 yards and six scores on 105 carries), receptions (34 catches for 232 yards and a touchdown), kickoff returns (nine for 248 yards and a score) and punt returns (13 for 192 and a touchdown). Silva has also become the first player in Holy Cross history to throw a touchdown pass and also score touchdowns on a rush, a reception, a kickoff return and a punt return in a single season. Over the course of his four-year career as a Crusader, Silva has rushed for 2,201 yards and 28 touchdowns on 531 carries, while catching 134 passes for 1,058 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 (32), third in rushing carries, fourth in all-purpose yards (4,159), fourth in points scored (192), fifth in rushing yards and sixth in receptions.

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 victory at Lehigh, Gruber caught five passes for 62 yards, including a 34-yard catch for the game-winning touchdown with 4:34 left in the fourth quarter. The previous 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. Gruber also had a big game at Delaware, with five receptions for 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Through six games on the year, he leads the team with 369 receiving yards and five touchdown catches, while averaging 17.6 yards on his 21 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 106 receptions for 1,642 yards and 18 scores. He currently ranks eighth all-time at Holy Cross in career receiving yards, while his 18 career touchdown catches stand just one shy of the school record (19 by Ari Confesor from 2000-2003).

Offense Looking Impressive In 2005
The Crusader offense has put up some big numbers in the first six games of the 2005 season. So far this year, Holy Cross has averaged 30.5 points, 18.3 first downs and 328.5 yards of total offense per contest. The Crusaders have been amazingly consistent, scoring over 20 points in five games 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 191 passing attempts so far this year, Holy Cross has thrown only one interception, while in 218 rushing attempts they have lost just one fumble. In addition, Holy Cross' 170 points scored over the first five weeks of the year were 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).

Nielsen Has Huge Game At Lehigh
Junior linebacker Chris Nielsen (Center Line, Mich.) had an outstanding afternoon in last week's 13-10 victory over 10th-ranked Lehigh, and was honored as the Sports Network National Defensive Player of the Week and the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week for his performance. Nielsen led the Crusader defense by forcing a fumble and recording 14 total tackles in the game, including 13 solo stops and a tackle for loss. He also had a strong performance earlier in the season against Harvard, posting a team-high 10 solo tackles with one tackle for loss. In addition, Nielsen had eight total tackles in the victory at Yale, while recording five tackles at Delaware. On the year, he ranks second on the team with 45 total tackles, including 39 solo stops and a team-best five tackles for loss. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Nielsen now has 67 total tackles, 57 solo tackles and seven tackles for loss.

The Last Meeting With Dartmouth
Quarterback John O'Neil completed 20 of 34 passes for 252 yards and a touchdown, to lead Holy Cross to a 24-0 victory over Dartmouth at Memorial Field. The win ended the Crusaders' 15-game losing streak, the longest in school history and the longest in the nation at the time. Holy Cross also posted a shutout for the first time in 122 games, since a 45-0 victory over Pennsylvania on Sept. 28, 1991. The Crusaders took control of the game early on, scoring points on each of their first three possessions. Holy Cross took the opening kickoff and marched 79 yards on 11 plays, with tailback Steve Silva scoring the touchdown from three yards out. On Dartmouth's opening possession, linebacker Matt Dugan forced a fumble, which defensive end David Mitchell returned to Big Green 20-yard line. That play set up a career-long 41-yard field goal by Mike DeSantis, making the score 10-0. After Dartmouth missed a field goal on its next possession, the Crusaders increased their lead to 17-0, as O'Neil hit Sean Gruber with a 20-yard touchdown pass on the opening play of the second quarter. The defenses controlled play for the rest of the first half and most of the third quarter, before Holy Cross concluded the scoring on a two-yard touchdown run by Silva early in the fourth quarter. The Crusader defense, which held Dartmouth to only 276 yards of total offense, was led by linebacker David Fitzpatrick with nine tackles, including one tackle for loss.

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 six games so far this year, O'Neil has completed 99 of 176 attempts for 1,026 yards and eight 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 508 of 909 passes for 5,622 yards and 45 touchdowns, becoming only the fourth player in school history to throw for 5,000 career yards. O'Neil is currently ranked third all-time at Holy Cross in career completions and attempts, while standing fourth in passing yards, passing touchdowns, completion percentage (55.9) and yards of total offense (6,068). He needs 974 passing yards this season to become the first Crusader since Tom Ciaccio (1989-1991) to throw of over 2,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.

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 Lehigh, in addition to recovering a fumble in the closing minutes of play. Adams previously posted nine tackles in the 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 six games this year, Adams has 54 total tackles, including 45 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 147 tackles, 114 solo stops and four tackles for loss.

Holy Cross Against Ranked Teams
The Crusaders have a 1-2 record against ranked opponents so far this season. Holy Cross posted a 13-10 victory at No. 10 Lehigh on Oct. 8, while falling 35-23 at No. 6 Delaware on Sept. 24, and losing 31-21 to No. 19 Harvard on Sept. 17. The Crusaders' victory over the Mountain Hawks last week marked their first win over a ranked team since Sept. 23, 2000, when they posted a 17-14 victory over 18th-ranked and previously unbeaten Towson at Fitton Field.

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 was carried by Fox College Sports Pacific, 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'.

Gough Steps Up In The Secondary
Junior cornerback Casey Gough has turned in some outstanding performances for the Crusaders so far in the 2005 season. In the victory at Yale, Gough 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. 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 six games on the year, he leads the team with three interceptions and 53 interception return yards. Gough also ranks third on the squad with 29 tackles, including 27 solo stops, and has two pass breakups. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Gough has now totaled 77 tackles, four interceptions and 10 pass breakups.

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. 8. Senior tailback Steve Silva ranks second in the nation in all-purpose yards, while standing eighth in punt returns and 16th in points scored. The rankings:

 

Category                Rank  Player/Team     Avg.
Turnovers Lost             1  Holy Cross       0.3
All-Purpose Yards          2  
Steve Silva    190.0
Turnover Margin            2  Holy Cross      +2.0
Solo Tackles               4  
Dan Adams        7.5
                          12  
Chris Nielsen    6.5
Fewest Penalties           8  Holy Cross       4.0
Punt Returns               8  
Steve Silva     14.8
                          17  Holy Cross      13.7
Fewest Penalty Yards      13  Holy Cross      37.7
Scoring                   16  
Steve Silva      9.0
4th Down Conversions      17  Holy Cross      63.6
Kickoff Returns           17  
Steve Silva     27.6
Turnovers Caused          18  Holy Cross       2.3
4th Down Defense          19  Holy Cross      27.3
Receptions                24  
Steve Silva      5.7
Interceptions             24  
Casey Gough      0.5
Scoring Defense           28  Holy Cross      20.3
Kickoff Return Coverage   29  Holy Cross      17.9
Completions               31  
John O'Neil     16.5
Points Responsible For    46  
Steve Silva     11.0

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 Oct. 8. Senior tailback Steve Silva ranks first in the conference in all-purpose yards (190.0 yards/game), first in receptions (5.7 catches/game), second in scoring (9.0 points/game), second in kickoff returns (27.6 yards/return), second in punt returns (14.8 yards/return) and fourth in rushing (78.0 yards/game), while senior quarterback John O'Neil stands third in passing yards (171.0 yards/game), third in total offense (188.3 yards/game) and fourth in passing efficiency (119.1 rating). In addition, senior wide receiver Sean Gruber ranks first in receiving yards (61.5 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 (0.5 picks/game) and junior punter Ryan McManaway (Ferdinand, Ind.) stands second in punting (35.8 yards/punt). As a team, Holy Cross leads the league in turnover margin (+2.0 turnovers/game); stands second in scoring offense (30.5 points/game), total offense (328.5 yards/game), passing offense (189.8 yards/game), punt returns (13.7 yards/return) and net punting (32.9 yards/punt; and ranks third in scoring defense (20.3 points/game), pass efficiency (124.6 rating) and kickoff returns (21.4 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 7-10, as the Crusaders have won seven of his last 11 games. Last week, Gilmore led Holy Cross to its first victory over a ranked team since 2000 with the 13-10 win at No. 10 Lehigh. 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 560-451-54, 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 Big Green
Dartmouth enters this week's game with an overall record of 1-3 and an 0-2 mark in the Ivy League. The Big Green did win its only game against a Patriot League opponent so far this year, defeating Colgate 26-21 in its season opener. The Dartmouth offense is led by senior quarterback Charlie Rittgers, who has completed 51 of 96 passes on the season for 486 yards and two touchdowns with four interceptions. Senior tailback Jason Bash has rushed for 195 yards and a score on 52 carries, while senior wide out Ryan Fuselier has 18 catches for 158 yards and a touchdown. The Big Green defense is led by sophomore strong safety Ian Wilson, who has totaled 41 tackles on the year with two tackles for loss and a forced fumble. Buddy Teevens stands 1-3 so far in his second stint as Dartmouth's head coach, after going 26-22-2 with the Big Green from 1987-1991. Teevens' career record stands at 61-102-2, including five seasons at Tulane (1992-1996) and three years at Stanford (2002-2004).

Crusaders Have Tri-Captains In 2005
Holy Cross has three captains for the 2005 football season, as senior running back Gideon Akande (Chicago, Ill.), 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).

Quick Hits
With last week's 13-10 victory at Lehigh, the Crusaders defeated the Mountain Hawks for the first time since posting a 20-14 win in Bethlehem on Nov. 8, 1997. Holy Cross also ended an 11-game losing streak for contests played in the state of Pennsylvania, since that 1997 win at Lehigh ... The Crusaders stand 2-0 in the Patriot League for the first time since the 2001 season, when they won their first three conference games against Georgetown (33-7), Towson (17-9) and Lafayette (63-53) ... Holy Cross head coach Tom Gilmore spent eight years as an assistant coach at Dartmouth from 1992-1999, including his final three seasons as defensive coordinator. In addition, defensive line coach Pat O'Leary was an assistant coach for the Big Green from 1989-2004 ... 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).