Crusaders Set To Take On Lafayette At Fitton Field

Nov. 7, 2005

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (5-4, 2-2 PL) vs. Lafayette (6-3, 3-1 PL)
Date: November 12, 2005
Time: 12:30 p.m.
Place: Fitton Field (23,500), Worcester, Mass.
Television: Lafayette Sports Network; Gary Laubach, play-by-play; John Leone, color
Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Tom Kelleher, color; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Lafayette Radio: WEST 1400 AM, Easton, Pa.; Dick Hammer, play-by-play; Phil LaBella, color
Series Record: Lafayette leads, 12-7
Last Meeting: Lafayette 56, Holy Cross 20; November 13, 2004; Easton, Pa.

The Series With Lafayette
This will be the 20th meeting between the Crusaders and the Leopards on the gridiron, with Lafayette leading the all-time series 12-7. The Leopards have won the last three meetings, and have been victorious in 11 of the last 13 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 Worcester, the Crusaders hold a 5-4 advantage, although the Leopards have won four of their last six trips to Fitton Field.

Series Quick Facts
Overall: Lafayette leads, 12-7
At Worcester: Holy Cross leads, 5-4
At Fitton Field: Holy Cross leads, 5-4
Current Win Streak: Lafayette, three games
Tom Gilmore vs. Lafayette: 0-1
Frank Tavani vs. Holy Cross: 4-1

Senior Salute
Holy Cross has 17 seniors who will be playing in their final regular season home game at Fitton Field against Lafayette. The members of the Holy Cross senior class are running back Gideon Akande (Chicago, Ill.), wide receiver Bryan Anderson (Shrewsbury, Mass.), offensive lineman David Cannon (Export, Pa.), defensive back Darran Davis (Upper Marlboro, Md.), tight end Luke Dugan (Maple Plain, Minn.), linebacker Matt Dugan (Washington, D.C.), defensive back Kevin Dunn (Gaithersburg, Md.), linebacker Brad Grinna (Postville, Iowa), wide receiver Sean Gruber (Richwood, Ky.), offensive lineman Justin LaGrenade (Gaithersburg, Md.), tight end Matt Lane (Marlborough, Mass.), linebacker Jesse Loubier (Winthrop, Mass.), defensive back Tyler Nugent (White Plains, N.Y.), quarterback John O'Neil (White Plains, N.Y.), defensive lineman Garett Roberts (Granville, N.Y.), running back Steve Silva (East Providence, R.I.) and wide receiver Bob Turkovich (Bedford, Pa.).

Dugan Has Huge Game At Fordham
Senior tight end Luke Dugan had the top game of his Holy Cross career at Fordham last week. Dugan set career highs with 10 catches and 136 receiving yards against the Rams, in addition to catching his first touchdown pass of the season. He posted more receptions and more yards in the Fordham game than he had totaled in the first eight games of the year combined. Overall this season, Dugan has now totaled 17 catches for 234 yards and a touchdown, to rank fourth on the team in both receptions and receiving yards. He also leads all Patriot League tight ends in receiving, as no other tight end in the conference has more than 12 catches or 153 receiving yards. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Dugan has 34 receptions for 436 yards and four scores.

Silva Shines In Senior Season
Walter Payton Award candidate Steve Silva has turned in some outstanding performances for the Crusaders during the 2005 season. He missed the Fordham game due to injury, but in the previous contest against Colgate, Silva had a career-best 10 receptions for 63 yards, while totaling 178 all-purpose yards. In the win over Dartmouth, he recorded 353 all-purpose yards and scored a pair of touchdowns, in addition to throwing a six-yard scoring pass. Silva also had a huge game in the upset victory over 10th-ranked Lehigh, totaling 152 all-purpose yards with a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown to lead Holy Cross to the come-from-behind win. Earlier this season, Silva's other top performances came against Yale (250 all-purpose yards, 84-yard kickoff return for a score), 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). In eight games played this season, Silva has 1,671 all-purpose yards while accounting for 14 touchdowns. He currently leads the team in rushing (609 yards and seven scores on 133 carries), receptions (52 catches for 334 yards and a touchdown), kickoff returns (13 for 339 yards and a score) and punt returns (20 for 389 yards and two touchdowns). 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 2,342 yards and 29 touchdowns on 559 carries, while catching 152 passes for 1,160 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 (34), third in all-purpose yards (4,512), third in rushing carries, fourth in points scored (192), fourth in receptions and fifth in rushing yards.

Nielsen Enjoying Big Year
Junior linebacker Chris Nielsen (Center Line, Mich.) has been one of the top players for the Holy Cross defense this season. Last week at Fordham, Nielsen led the team with 13 total tackles, including 12 solo stops, two tackles for loss and a sack, in addition to forcing a fumble. He previously had an outstanding afternoon in the 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 against Lehigh, 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, made seven tackles against Colgate, and recording four tackles and a sack against Dartmouth. On the year, he ranks second on the team with 69 total tackles, including 60 solo stops and a team-best eight tackles for loss. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Nielsen now has 91 total tackles, 78 solo tackles and 10 tackles for loss.

O'Neil Leading Aerial Attack
Senior quarterback John O'Neil is now in his third year as the starting signal caller for Holy Cross. In nine games so far this year, O'Neil has completed 155 of 270 attempts for 1,648 yards and 12 touchdowns with just four interceptions, in addition to catching two touchdown passes. In the Colgate game, O'Neil completed 21 of 38 passes for a season-high 252 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a good game at Delaware, when he connected on 17 of 32 attempts for 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 564 of 1,003 passes for 6,244 yards and 49 touchdowns, becoming only the third player in school history to throw for 6,000 career yards. O'Neil is currently ranked third all-time at Holy Cross in career passing yards, touchdown passes, completions and attempts, while standing fourth in completion percentage (56.2) and yards of total offense (6,704). He needs 352 more passing yards this season to join Tom Ciaccio (1989-1991) and Jeff Wiley (1986-1988) as the only Crusaders to throw of over 2,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.

The Last Meeting With Lafayette
John O'Neil completed 19 of 34 passes for 183 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 16 yards, but it was not enough as the Holy Cross football team was defeated by Lafayette 56-20 at Fisher Field on Nov. 13, 2004. Lafayette jumped out to an early 14-0 lead in the first quarter, on a pair of touchdown runs by Brad Maurer and Joe McCourt. Holy Cross cut the lead to 14-7 early in the second quarter on a one-yard scoring run by Steve Silva. McCourt scored his second touchdown of the day to put the Leopards up 21-7, but the Crusaders made it a 21-14 game at halftime on a nine-yard scoring pass from O'Neil to Luke Dugan. In the third quarter, Lafayette went up 28-14 on an 18-yard pass from Maurer to David Nelson, before O'Neil hit Sean Gruber with a 35-yard touchdown pass on a fourth-down play. But the Leopards blocked the extra point attempt and returned it for a two-point conversion, and would control the remainder of the game. McCourt added three more touchdown runs down the stretch to help secure the win. Gruber finished the day with six catches for 82 yards and a score, while Silva had 135 all-purpose yards. McCourt rushed for 156 yards on 26 carries to lead the Leopards, while Maurer had 259 yards of total offense. Defensively, David Fitzpatrick had a game-high 14 tackles, while Sain Karim added 11 tackles and an interception.

Adams Leading Crusader Defense
Junior linebacker Dan Adams (Springfield, Va.) has been the leader of the Holy Cross defense so far this season. In the Colgate game, Adams had a career-high 21 solo tackles, recording the most tackles by a Crusader since Rob Milanette made 22 stops against Princeton on Oct. 2, 1993. He previously posted nine tackles and a fumble recovery in the victory at Lehigh, in addition to making nine tackles in the win at Yale. Adams also had a team-high 10 tackles at Delaware, and posted 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 nine games this year, Adams has 89 total tackles, including 74 solo stops, three 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 182 tackles, 143 solo stops and five tackles for loss.

Gruber Enjoying Another Big Year
Senior wide receiver Sean Gruber continues to be one of the top threats in the Holy Cross passing game this season. Against Colgate, Gruber caught three passes for 35 yards and a score, which marked the 20th touchdown catch of his Holy Cross career. With that catch, he broke the school record for career touchdown receptions, which was previously held by Ari Confesor, who had 19 scoring catches from 2000-2003. Earlier this season in the win over Dartmouth, Gruber posted four receptions for 57 yards and a score, while in the victory at Lehigh, he caught five passes for 62 yards, including a 34-yard catch for the game-winning touchdown with 4:34 left in the fourth quarter. He also had big games earlier in the season against Yale (four catches for 45 yards, while scoring a nine-yard rushing touchdown on a reverse) and Delaware, (five receptions for 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns). Through nine games on the year, he leads the team with 467 receiving yards and seven touchdown catches, while averaging 16.1 yards on his 29 catches. Last season, Gruber led the team with 720 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns, while ranking second on the team with 48 catches. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Gruber now has 114 receptions for 1,740 yards and 20 scores, to rank sixth all-time at Holy Cross in career receiving yards.

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. Last week at Fordham, he totaled four tackles with a tackle for loss and a pass breakup, in addition to returning a kickoff 65 yards to set up Holy Cross' first touchdown. Previously 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. 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 nine games on the year, he leads the team with three interceptions and 53 interception return yards. Gough also ranks third on the squad with 40 tackles, including 35 solo stops, and has four pass breakups. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Gough has now totaled 88 tackles, four interceptions and 12 pass breakups.

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 in October 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.

Defense Stepping Up In 2005
The Holy Cross defense is much improved this season, and has held four of its first nine opponents under 20 points scored. In the victory over Dartmouth, Holy Cross allowed just 16 points and 318 yards, with the Big Green accumulating just 91 yards, five first downs and no points in the first three quarters. The Crusaders also had an outstanding performance in the victory over Lehigh, giving up just 289 yards of total offense and 10 points, while recovering three of the Mountain Hawks' 11 fumbles. Earlier in the season, Holy Cross also played well in the wins over Georgetown (allowing 268 yards of total offense and six points), and Yale (holding the Bulldogs scoreless for the first three quarters and allowing just 19 points). Overall this year, Crusader opponents are averaging 385.7 yards and 21.0 points per contest, including games against Lehigh (which averages 37.8 points and 403.1 yards per game), Delaware (23.8 points and 370.7 yards per game) and Harvard (31.4 points and 398.0 yards per game). In addition, the Crusaders have forced a total of 19 turnovers on the season, with nine interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries. Last year, Holy Cross allowed its opponents to average 33.4 points and 412.0 yards per game.

Crusaders Dominate Turnover Battle
Through nine games so far this season, Holy Cross has forced its opponents to commit 19 turnovers, while giving the ball away only nine times. The Crusader defense has posted nine interceptions so far this year, in addition to recovering 10 fumbles. Junior cornerback Casey Gough leads the team with three interceptions and one fumble recovery on the season, while senior cornerback Tyler Nugent has a pair of interceptions, sophomore strong safety Kent Flanders (Atlanta, Ga.) has a pair of fumble recoveries, and senior linebacker Matt Dugan has one interception and one fumble recovery. The Holy Cross defense has also been incredibly consistent, as it has forced at least one turnover in every game, and two or more turnovers seven times. On the offensive side of the ball, the Crusaders have thrown just four interception this season, and have lost only five fumbles.

Silva Has Record Setting Day
Walter Payton Award candidate Steve Silva set three school records during the 28-16 victory over Dartmouth on Oct. 15. Silva broke the Holy Cross single-game marks for most all-purpose yards (353) and punt return yards (167), while also setting a new record for the longest punt return in school history with an 87-yard return for a touchdown at the end of the second quarter. The old single-game marks were 144 punt return yards (John Provost against Brown in 1974) and 337 all-purpose yards (Gill Fenerty against Columbia in 1983). The old record for the longest punt return in Holy Cross history was 85 yards (by Johnny Turco against Colgate in 1950, and Provost against Brown in 1974). With two games remaining in the 2005 regular season, Silva needs 503 all-purpose yards to break the Holy Cross single-season record (2,173 by Gordie Lockbaum in 1987), and 536 all-purpose yards to break the school career record (5,226 by Ari Confesor from 2000-2003).

Crusaders Look For Winning Record
With a victory over Lafayette this week, Holy Cross would guarantee that it would finish the 2005 season with a winning record. The Crusaders currently stand 5-4 overall and 2-2 in the Patriot League with two contests remaining (both of them conference games). The last time Holy Cross had a winning record (overall or in league play) came during the 2000 season, when it went 7-4 overall and 4-2 in the conference. The 2000 campaign is the only time since 1992 that the Crusaders finished the year with a winning mark. Holy Cross is also still in contention for the sixth Patriot League championship in school history. The Crusaders previously won the conference title in 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991.

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 342-160-27 (.672). 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 14-18 at home. Holy Cross has a 3-2 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 contest against Lafayette is the last home game scheduled for the Crusaders this season.

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 Nov. 5. Steve Silva leads the nation in both all-purpose yards and punt returns, while Dan Adams leads the country in solo tackles. The rankings:

 

Category             Rank  Player/Team    Avg.
All-Purpose Yards       1  
Steve Silva   208.9
Punt Returns            1  
Steve Silva    19.5
                        2  Holy Cross     17.0
Solo Tackles            1  
Dan Adams       8.2
                        4  
Chris Nielsen   6.7
Turnovers Lost          2  Holy Cross      1.0
Turnover Margin         5  Holy Cross     +1.1
Fewest Penalties        6  Holy Cross      4.2
Receptions             10  
Steve Silva     6.5
Kickoff Returns        15  
Steve Silva    26.1
                       19  Holy Cross     22.0
Fewest Penalty Yards   11  Holy Cross     39.8
Scoring                17  
Steve Silva     8.3
Scoring Defense        28  Holy Cross     21.0
Completions            29  
John O'Neil    17.2
Total Tackles          31  
Dan Adams       9.9
Interceptions          50  
Casey Gough     0.3

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 Nov. 5. Senior tailback Steve Silva ranks first in the conference in all-purpose yards (208.9 yards/game), first in receptions (6.5 catches/game), first in punt returns (19.5 yards/return), second in scoring (8.2 points/game), third in kickoff returns (26.1 yards/return) and fourth in rushing (76.1 yards/game), while senior quarterback John O'Neil stands second in passing yards (183.1 yards/game), second in total offense (196.2 yards/game) and third in passing efficiency (120.4 rating). In addition, senior wide receiver Sean Gruber ranks fifth in receiving yards (51.9 yards/game), junior placekicker Mike DeSantis (Belle Mead, N.J.) stands second in extra point percentage (96.8 percent), junior cornerback Casey Gough ranks third in interceptions (0.3 picks/game) and junior punter Ryan McManaway (Ferdinand, Ind.) stands third in punting (36.2 yards/punt). As a team, Holy Cross leads the league in turnover margin (+1.1 turnovers/game) and punt returns (17.0 yards/return); stands second in scoring offense (27.2 points/game), kickoff returns (22.0 yards/return) and net punting (33.1 yards/punt); and ranks third in scoring defense (21.0 points/game) and pass efficiency (122.5 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 8-12, as the Crusaders have won eight of his last 14 games. On Oct. 8, 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 561-453-54, 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.

Scouting The Leopards
Lafayette stands 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the Patriot League, after sufferning its first conference loss against Colgate last week. The Leopards are currently in a three-way tie for first place in the Patriot League, after sharing the conference title with Lehigh last season. The Lafayette offense is led by junior quarterback Brad Maurer, who has completed 113 of 194 passes for 1,320 yards with six touchdowns and four interceptions. Junior tailback Jonathan Hurt has added for 620 rushing yards and nine touchdowns on 129 carries, while senior wide receiver Brandon Stanford has 43 receptions for 478 yards and three scores. Senior linebacker Maurice Bennett has 106 tackles, 13 tackles for loss and seven sacks to lead the Leopard defense. Frank Tavani is now in his sixth season as Lafayette's head coach, and has posted an overall record of 30-35. Foley served as an assistant coach with the Leopards for 13 years before taking over as head coach.

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 were 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'.

Quick Hits
The Crusader offense has scored points on 28 of its 31 trips into the red zone this season, with 25 touchdowns and three field goals ... Junior placekicker Mike DeSantis had a streak of 32 straight extra points made (fourth-longest in school history) snapped during the game at Fordham. He also made 40 consecutive extra points from Oct. 25, 2003-Nov. 13, 2004, the second-longest streak ever at Holy Cross ... Senior running back Gideon Akande, senior quarterback John O'Neil and senior tailback Steve Silva are serving as Holy Cross' tri-captains this season. Silva, who was also a co-captain in 2004, is only the ninth player in school history to serve as a captain for more than one season ... With the 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 ... 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).