Crusaders Head To Lafayette For Key Patriot League Game

Oct. 16, 2006

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (5-2, 2-0 PL) vs. Lafayette (2-4, 1-0 PL)
Date: October 21, 2006
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Fisher Field (13,132), Easton, Pa.
Television: Lafayette Sports Network; Gary Laubach, play-by-play; John Leone, color; Dan Mowdy, sidelines
Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Tom Kelleher, color; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Lafayette Radio: WEST 1400 AM, Hanover, N.H.; Dick Hammer, play-by-play; Mike Moore, color; Carl Schumacher, color
Series Record: Lafayette leads, 13-7
Last Meeting: Lafayette 41, Holy Cross 21, November 12, 2005, Worcester, Mass.

The Series With Lafayette
This will be the 21st meeting between the Crusaders and the Leopards on the gridiron, with Lafayette leading the all-time series 13-7. The Leopards have won the last four meetings, and have been victorious in 12 of the last 14 contests. During that time span, the only victories for Holy Cross in the series came in 1999 (30-12 at Fitton Field) and 2001 (63-53 at Fitton Field). For games played in Easton, Lafayette has posted an 8-2 record against Holy Cross, with seven straight victories. The last win for the Crusaders at Fisher Field was during the 1989 season (23-21).

Series Quick Facts
Overall: Lafayette leads, 13-7
In Easton: Lafayette leads, 8-2
At Fisher Field: Lafayette leads, 8-2
Current Win Streak: Lafayette, four games
Tom Gilmore vs. Lafayette: 0-2
Frank Tavani vs. Holy Cross: 5-1
In Overtime: n/a

Crusaders Look To Extend Win Streak
Holy Cross is off to a 5-2 start this season, and is currently riding a four-game winning streak. The Crusaders began their current winning streak with a 27-0 victory at Marist, before defeating Fordham (28-21) and Brown (35-30) at home, and Dartmouth on the road (24-21 in overtime). This marks the longest winning streak during Tom Gilmore's tenure as head coach at Holy Cross. The Crusaders had previously won three in a row under Gilmore twice, from Oct. 1-15, 2005 (downing Yale, Lehigh and Dartmouth) and from Nov. 20, 2004-Sept. 10, 2005 (defeating Georgetown, Sacred Heart and Georgetown again). With a victory over Lafayette this week, the Crusaders would post their first five-game winning streak since coming out victorious in the final three games of 2000 (over Bucknell, Colgate and Fordham) and the first two contests of 2001 (against Georgetown and Towson). Holy Cross has not won five straight games within a single season since the 1991 team posted a perfect 11-0 record.

Holy Cross In The Patriot League
Holy Cross is now in its 21st season of play in the Patriot League. The Crusaders are currently in first place in the conference with a 2-0 mark in league games so far this year, a half game ahead of Colgate, Lafayette and Lehigh. This marks the second straight season in which Holy Cross has opened the year with a 2-0 mark in conference play. With their victories over Georgetown and Fordham to open the year, the Crusaders now stand 13-8 all-time in Patriot League openers, and 15-6 all-time in conference home openers. Overall, Holy Cross owns an all-time record of 58-53 (.523) in Patriot League action, winning five titles (1986, 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991).

Crusaders Show Depth At Wide Receiver
Holy Cross has shown that it has a number of other weapons in the passing game this season, as five different wide receivers have already recorded at least 13 receptions on the year. Junior wide receiver Ryan Maher (Boca Raton, Fla.) leads the team with 40 catches for 411 yards and three touchdowns. Junior wide receiver Thomas Harrison (Wilmington, N.C.) has caught 31 passes for 366 yards and three touchdowns, while sophomore wide out Brett McDermott (Mansfield, Mass.) has added 25 receptions for 343 yards and three touchdowns. In addition, senior wide receiver Matt Fanning (Marlborough, Mass.) has posted 23 catches for 309 yards and two scores, and sophomore wide out Jon Brock (Acworth, Ga.) has brought in 13 receptions for 118 yards and a score. All told this season, eight different Holy Cross wide receivers have already caught at least one pass.

Gass Heads Up Ground Game
Sophomore tailback Terrance Gass (Sicklerville, N.J.) is enjoying a solid season as the top running back for the Crusaders. In last week's victory at Dartmouth, Gass ran 18 times for 79 yards and a score, in addition to catching two passes for 26 yards. In the previous game against Brown, he carried 18 times for 65 yards and a touchdown, while catching two passes for 26 yards. Earlier in the year against Fordham, Gass ran 21 times for a career-high 102 yards and a touchdown, in addition to catching five passes for 56 yards and another score. He also had a strong game in the season-opener at Georgetown when he carried 15 times for 56 yards and a score. Gass currently leads the team in rushing with 422 yards and four touchdowns on 98 carries this season, in addition to catching 14 passes for 130 yards and two scores.

Randolph Leads Crusader Offense
Sophomore quarterback Dominic Randolph (Amelia, Ohio) has developed into an excellent leader for the Holy Cross offense so far this season, and was named the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week on Sept. 30 and Oct. 7. During last week's victory at Dartmouth, Randolph hit on 20 of 32 attempts for 259 yards and a touchdown. In the previous game against Brown, he connected on 30 of 39 attempts for 329 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. Randolph's 30 completions were the fourth-most in school history in a single game, while his 329 yards were the most by a Crusader quarterback since Brian Hall threw for 366 yards against Fordham on Nov. 9, 2002. Randolph also played well against Fordham, completing 19 of 27 attempts for 263 yards and three touchdowns, in addition to delivering a key 48-yard rush in the fourth quarter to secure the victory.Earlier in the year he hit on eight of 12 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown at Marist, while connecting on 10 of 15 attempts for 79 yards at Georgetown. Overall this season, Randolph has now completed 87 of 125 attempts for 1,031 yards and nine touchdowns with only two interceptions, despite missing two games due to injury.

Defense Continues Impressive Play
Through the first seven games of the 2006 season, the Holy Cross defense has developed into one of the better units in the Patriot League. The Crusaders have held three of their seven opponents to less than 300 yards of total offense, with Holy Cross posting a victory on each of those three occasions. On Sept. 30, Fordham managed just 245 total yards, while completing only eight of 27 passes and scoring just 13 points on offense. Previously at Marist, the Crusaders won 27-0 to post the second shutout during Tom Gilmore's tenure as head coach (to go along with a 24-0 win at Dartmouth on Oct. 16, 2004), while holding the Red Foxes to just 265 yards of total offense. In the season-opening victory at Georgetown, Holy Cross allowed just 248 total yards and 13 points to the Hoyas. Since the beginning of the 2004 season, the Crusaders have now held their opposition to under 300 yards of total offense seven times. Through the first seven contests of the 2006 campaign, the Crusaders are holding their opponents to just 20.0 points, 16.4 first downs and 328.7 yards per game, with a 110.7 pass efficiency rating.

The Last Meeting With Lafayette
Lafayette's Brad Maurer threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Leopards to a 41-21 victory over Holy Cross at Fitton Field on November 12, 2005. Maurer completed 16 of 28 attempts with one interception on the day, and also rushed for 55 yards. The Leopards jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter on a pair of Maurer touchdown passes, of two yards to Joe Ort and 36 yards to Shaun Adair. Holy Cross responded with a 12-yard scoring pass from John O'Neil to Sean Gruber, before Jonathan Hurt added a one-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter to put Lafayette up 21-7. After another Crusader touchdown pass from O'Neil to Gruber, this one for eight yards, the Leopards' Rick Ziska kicked a pair of field goals, from 23 and 51 yards, to make the score 27-14 at the break. After neither team scored in the third quarter, Lafayette increased its lead to 34-14 early in the fourth quarter on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Maurer to David Nelson. O'Neil then threw his third touchdown of the day, of 19 yards to Luke Dugan, making the score 34-21. Hurt concluded the scoring for the Leopards with another one-yard touchdown run. Hurt rushed for 125 yards on 25 carries for Lafayette, while Holy Cross' Steve Silva had 103 yards on 23 carries for his fourth 100-yard game of the season. Brandon Stanford caught six passes for 122 yards to lead all Lafayette receivers, while Dugan had eight receptions for 109 yards to lead Holy Cross. The Crusader defense was led by Dan Adams with 16 total tackles, including one tackle for loss, while Maurice Bennett recorded 10 tackles for the Leopards.

DeSantis Kicks Crusaders To Victory
Senior placekicker Mike DeSantis (Belle Mead, N.J.) continues to show why he is one of the top placekickers in the Patriot League. During last week's victory at Dartmouth, DeSantis made three of four field goals and his only extra point try for a total of 10 points, including a game-winning 18-yard field goal in overtime. On the season, he now ranks second on the team in scoring with 34 points, making five of eight field goals and 19 of 21 extra points. DeSantis, who was a second team All-Patriot League selection in 2004, has now hit on 23 of 33 career field goal attempts and 120 of 132 career extra points for a total of 189 points. He already holds the school record for career field goal percentage (69.7 percent), while standing second in career extra points made (only three away from Tony Melink's record of 123) and fourth in career field goals made.

Nielsen Enjoying 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 30 tackles with seven tackles for loss, a team-high six sacks and a pass breakup through seven games. In the victory over Brown, he posted a career-high three sacks, while recording four total tackles, to earn Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week honors. Previously against Fordham, Nielsen made four solo tackles with a pair of sacks for eight yards. 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. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Nielsen now has 124 total tackles, 104 solo tackles and 17 tackles for loss.

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, and has led Holy Cross in tackles in six out of seven contests this season. Last week at Dartmouth, he ranked second on the team with 10 total tackles, including six solo stops. In the previous game against Brown, Adams posted a game-high 11 tackles (including 10 solo stops), while in the Harvard game, he recorded nine solo tackles (including one tackle for loss). Earlier in the season 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 Georgetown contest, Adams was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week, and received the Boston Globe Gold Helmet award. Through seven games, he has now totaled 60 tackles, including 48 solo stops and a team-best eight tackles for loss. Prior to the start of the season, Adams was named the 16th-best linebacker in all of Division I-AA by the Sports Network. A year ago, he 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 an NCAA single game record with 21 solo tackles (since tackles became an official statistic in 2000). Over the course of his career as a Crusader, he has now totaled 268 total tackles, 214 solo stops and 14 tackles for loss.

McManaway Keeps Kicking Away
Senior punter Ryan McManaway (Ferdinand, Ind.) is enjoying another solid year as one of the top punters in the Patriot League. Through the first seven games of the 2006 season, McManaway has averaged 35.6 yards on 28 punts. He has placed seven of his 28 kicks this year inside the opponents' 20-yard line, while forcing the opposition to call 13 fair catches. McManaway, who was named second team All-Patriot League in 2005, has averaged 34.7 yards on 183 punts during his collegiate career, while placing 34 kicks inside the opponents' 20-yard line. He enters this week's game ranked fourth all-time at Holy Cross in both career punts and career punting yards (6,341).

Gough Steps Up In The Secondary
Senior cornerback Casey Gough (Hinsdale, Ill.) is once again among the top defensive backs and kickoff returners in the Patriot League this season. In last week's victory at Dartmouth, he posted seven tackles with one tackle for loss and a key pass breakup in the fourth quarter to prevent a touchdown. Previously against Fordham, Gough recorded six tackles, four tackles for loss, a sack and a key interception, to win the Johnny Turco Memorial Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of Holy Cross' Homecoming game. Earlier in the year at Marist, he totaled five solo tackles, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and an interception to earn Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week honors. Gough also had a strong game in the season opener at Georgetown, posting six total tackles and two pass breakups. Through the first seven games of the year, he has now totaled 32 tackles, seven tackles for loss, two interceptions and four pass breakups. Gough is also enjoying a solid season as the Crusaders' top kickoff returner, averaging 20.5 yards on 18 returns. Prior to the start of the year, Gough was named a preseason honorable mention All-American as a kickoff returner by Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette. A year ago, he 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. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Gough has now totaled 125 tackles, six interceptions and 18 pass breakups. He has also totaled 1,107 yards and a touchdown on 42 career kickoff returns, to rank fourth all-time at Holy Cross in career kickoff return yards, and first in career kickoff return average (26.4 yards per return).

Holy Cross In The NCAA Statistics
Four Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I-AA leaders in various statistical categories, through games of Oct. 14. As a team, Holy Cross stands ninth in passing yards and 16th in third down conversion percentage. The rankings:

 

Category               Rank  Player/Team     Avg.
Passing Yards             9  Holy Cross     254.4
Third Down Conversions   16  Holy Cross      46.7
Pass Efficiency          17  Holy Cross     144.4
Receptions               20  
Ryan Maher       5.7
Net Punting              22  Holy Cross      34.8
Interceptions            23  Holy Cross       1.1
Pass Efficiency Defense  24  Holy Cross     110.7
Quarterback Sacks        24  
Chris Nielsen    0.9
Kickoff Returns          25  Holy Cross      21.8
Total Offense            30  Holy Cross     362.7
Punt Returns             42  
Matt Fanning     9.5
Solo Tackles             49  
Dan Adams        6.9

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. 14. Junior wide receiver Ryan Maher currently leads the conference in receptions (5.7 catches/game), while standing second in receiving yards (58.7 yards/game). Junior wide out Thomas Harrison is right behind Maher, ranking third in the league in receptions (4.4 catches/game) and fourth in receiving yards (52.3 yards/game). In addition, sophomore tailback Terrance Gass is fourth in scoring (5.1 points/game) and fifth in rushing (60.3 yards/game), senior wide receiver Matt Fanning ranks third in punt returns (9.5 yards/return), senior placekicker Mike DeSantis stands third in field goals (0.7 made/game) and sophomore wide receiver Brett McDermott is fifth in receiving yards (49.0 yards/game). As a team, Holy Cross leads the league in scoring offense (24.0 points/game), scoring defense (20.0 points/game), total offense (362.7 yards/game), passing offense (254.4 yards/game), pass efficiency (144.4 rating), pass efficiency defense (110.7 rating) and third down conversions (46.7 percent), and stands second in rushing defense (128.3 yards/game) and kickoff returns (22.9 yards/return).

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 567-456-54, good for a .552 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.

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 14-15, as the Crusaders have won four straight and 14 of his last 24 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.

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 344-162-27 (.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 16-20 at home, with a 2-1 record so far in 2006. 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.

Scouting The Leopards
Lafayette enters this week's game with an overall record of 2-4 on the season, including a 1-0 mark in the Patriot League. The Leopards are currently riding a four-game losing streak, but they did defeat Bucknell 31-0 in their only conference game so far in 2006. Senior quarterback Brad Maurer has completed 97 of 167 passes for 1,138 yards and five touchdowns with seven interceptions this year, in addition to rushing for 199 yards and four scores on 56 carries. Senior tailback Jonathan Hurt leads the team in rushing with 476 yards and five touchdowns on 114 carries, while senior wide out Joe Ort has a team-best 22 catches for 277 yards. Defensively, the Leopards are led by sophomore linebacker Andy Romans with 47 tackles, four tackles for loss and an interception. Frank Tavani is now in his seventh season as Lafayette's head coach, and has posted an overall record of 34-40. The 2004 Patriot League Coach of the Year, Tavani served as an assistant coach with the Leopards for 13 years before taking over as head coach.

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 marks 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).

Holy Cross 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

Crusaders On The Radio
Ten of Holy Cross' 11 games in 2006 will air on WTAG 580 AM, the true sports leader for the city of Worcester. Bob Fouracre is 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, is in his seventh year as the color commentator. All of 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 six games shown on television during the 2006 season. Two home games this season will be televised live on WCTR TV-3 (Worcester), against Brown on October 7 and Lehigh on October 28. In addition, the September 9 game against Northeastern was carried live by CN8 on Comcast Cable, the September 30 contest against Fordham was shown nationally on a tape delay basis by ESPNU, the October 21 game at Lafayette will be carried on the Lafayette Sports Network (RCN Cable and WBPH TV-60 in Allentown, Pa.), and the November 11 contest at Colgate will be shown live 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'.

Quick Hits
Sophomore linebacker Brian Billman (Westerville, Ohio) led the team with 11 tackles at Dartmouth last week, including a 12-yard sack and a four-yard tackle for loss, both of which came on third downs in the fourth quarter to force the Big Green to punt. On the season, Billman now ranks second on the team with 35 total tackles, including five tackles for loss ... Senior tight end Frank Herlihy caught two passes for 10 yards and a touchdown in the victory over Brown. Herlihy has now scored four career touchdowns on just 24 receptions ... Junior quarterback Brian McSharry (Abington, Mass.) has been a solid backup this season, completing 71 of 117 passes for 727 yards with six touchdowns and just one interception. McSharry started three games earlier this season when starter Dominic Randolph was injured ... Sophomore tailback Mike Kielt (Southbury, Conn.) rushed for 241 yards and two scores on 49 carries in the first five games of the season, before suffering an injury against Fordham.