Football Set To Conclude 2005 Season At Bucknell
Nov. 14, 2005
Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (5-5, 2-3 PL) vs. Bucknell (1-9, 0-5 PL)
Date: November 19, 2005
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Christy Mathewson Stadium (13,100), Lewisburg, Pa.
Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Tom Kelleher, color; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Bucknell Radio: WEGH 107.3 FM, Sunbury, Pa.; Doug Birdsong, play-by-play; George Burman, color
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 12-9
Last Meeting: Bucknell 42, Holy Cross 27; October 30, 2004; Worcester, Mass.
The Series With Bucknell
This will be the 22nd meeting between the Crusaders and the Bison on the gridiron, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 12-9. Bucknell has won the last two contests between the two schools, and has been victorious in eight of the last 10 meetings. The Crusaders have also lost on six consecutive trips to Mathewson Stadium, with Holy Cross' last victory in Lewisburg coming on Nov. 9, 1991 (42-6). The schools first met on October 31, 1925, with Holy Cross posting a 23-7 win at Fitton Field.
Series Quick Facts
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 12-9
At Lewisburg: Bucknell leads, 6-3
At Mathewson Stadium: Bucknell leads, 6-3
Current Win Streak: Bucknell, two games
Tom Gilmore vs. Bucknell: 0-1
Tim Landis vs. Holy Cross: 3-1
Holy Cross Set For Season Finale
Holy Cross will close out the 2005 season with the game at Bucknell on November 19. Over the last 16 seasons, the Crusaders have posted an impressive 12-4 mark in their final contest of the season. Last season, Holy Cross defeated Georgetown on the road (31-28 in overtime), but prior to that the Crusaders had lost their previous three season finales (24-21 at Fordham in 2001, 25-20 at Colgate in 2002 and 45-38 against Colgate in 2003). This year marks only the second time that Holy Cross and Bucknell will close out the season against each other. The only previous time the Crusaders and the Bison met in the season finale came during the 1989 season, when Holy Cross closed out a 10-1 campaign and clinched the Patriot League title with a 35-6 victory in Lewisburg.
Crusaders Look For Winning Record
With a victory over Bucknell this week, Holy Cross would finish the 2005 season with a winning record. The Crusaders currently stand 5-5 overall and 2-3 in the Patriot League heading into the contest with the Bison. The last time Holy Cross had a winning record came during the 2000 season, when it went 7-4 overall. The 2000 campaign is the only time since 1992 that the Crusaders finished the year with a winning mark. Holy Cross also has a chance to finish with a .500 record in Patriot League play with a win against Bucknell. The Crusaders have ended the year with a losing mark in conference action during each of the last four seasons and nine times in the last 10 years, with the only exception being the 2000 team (4-2 in the Patriot League).
Silva Shines In Senior Season
Walter Payton Award candidate Steve Silva (East Providence, R.I.) has turned in some outstanding performances for the Crusaders during the 2005 season. Last week against Lafayette, he recorded 216 all-purpose yards, including 103 rushing yards on 23 carries. In his 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. 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), Georgetown (20 rushes for 110 yards and a touchdown, eight receptions for 61 yards) and Sacred Heart (179 total yards and six touchdowns -- three rushing, two passing and one receiving). In nine games played this season, Silva has 1,887 all-purpose yards while accounting for 14 touchdowns. He currently leads the team in rushing (712 yards and seven scores on 156 carries), receptions (53 catches for 340 yards and a touchdown), kickoff returns (18 for 446 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 2,445 yards and 29 touchdowns on 582 carries, while catching 153 passes for 1,166 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), second in all-purpose yards (4,906), third in rushing carries, fourth in points scored (192), fourth in receptions and fourth in rushing yards.
Dugan Has Another Huge Game
Senior tight end Luke Dugan (Maple Plain, Minn.) has been the top receiver in each of the Crusaders last two games, breaking the 100-yard mark in receiving yards for the first two times in his collegiate career. During last week's game against Lafayette, he totaled eight catches for 109 yards and a touchdown. In the previous contest at Fordham, Dugan set career highs with 10 catches and 136 receiving yards, in addition to catching his first touchdown pass of the season. This comes after he had recorded just seven catches and 98 receiving yards in the first eight games of the year combined. Overall this season, Dugan has now totaled 25 catches for 343 yards and two touchdowns, to rank fourth on the team in receptions and third in receiving yards. He also leads all Patriot League tight ends in receiving, as no other tight end in the conference has more than 16 catches or 153 receiving yards. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Dugan has 42 receptions for 545 yards and five scores.
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 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). In the game 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 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 94 total tackles, 79 solo tackles and 10 tackles for loss.
The Last Meeting With Bucknell
Bucknell quarterback Daris Wilson rushed for 252 yards and five touchdowns on 31 carries, to lead the Bison to a 42-27 victory over Holy Cross at Fitton Field on October 30, 2004. Holy Cross dominated play in the first half, but was unable to capitalize on its chances and led by only six points at the break. The Crusaders took an early 10-0 lead in the first quarter, with Mike DeSantis hitting a 25-yard field goal and Steve Silva adding a two-yard scoring run. Bucknell came back to claim a 14-13 lead, but Holy Cross responded with a 22-yard touchdown pass from John O'Neil to Sean Gruber, making the score 20-14. The Crusaders then had the ball at the Bucknell 13-yard line following a fumble on the ensuing kickoff, but were unable to put any more points on the board as DeSantis' 35-yard field goal attempt was blocked. The Bison scored on their opening drive of the second half to go up 21-20, before Holy Cross again reclaimed the lead on a 13-yard touchdown pass from O'Neil to Bob Turkovich. But Bucknell returned the ensuing kickoff to the Crusader 13-yard line, and Wilson scored on a 10-yard run to give the Bison the lead for good. Wilson added two more touchdown runs in the fourth quarter to conclude the scoring, and received the Dr. Edward N. Anderson Award as the Most Valuable Player of Holy Cross' Family Weekend game. Silva led Holy Cross with 214 all-purpose yards on the day, while O'Neil completed 22 of 39 passes for 191 yards. Dan Adams had a game-high 13 tackles for the Crusader defense.
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. He has become the Crusaders' all-time leader in career touchdown receptions with 22, breaking the mark which was previously held by Ari Confesor (19 scoring catches from 2000-2003). In last week's game against Lafayette, Gruber caught two touchdown passes while totaling three receptions for 36 yards. Against Colgate, Gruber caught three passes for 35 yards and a score, while in the win over Dartmouth, he posted four receptions for 57 yards and a touchdown. 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 at 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 10 games on the year, he leads the team with 503 receiving yards and nine touchdown catches, while averaging 15.7 yards on his 32 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 117 receptions for 1,776 yards and 20 scores, to rank sixth all-time at Holy Cross in career receiving yards.
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 10 games so far this year, O'Neil has completed 170 of 307 attempts for 1,817 yards and 15 touchdowns with just five interceptions, in addition to catching two touchdown passes. Last week against Lafayette, he threw for 169 yards with three touchdown passes. Previously against Colgate, 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 579 of 1,040 passes for 6,413 yards and 52 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, attempts and yards of total offense (6,887), while standing fourth in completion percentage (55.7). He needs 183 passing yards against Bucknell 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.
Adams Leading Crusader Defense
Junior linebacker Dan Adams (Springfield, Va.) has been the leader of the Holy Cross defense so far this season. Last week against Lafayette, he posted 16 total tackles, including 14 solo stops and a tackle for loss. 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. Some of Adams' other top games this season came against Lehigh (nine tackles and a fumble recovery), Yale (nine tackles), Delaware (team-high 10 tackles), Harvard (eight solo tackles), Georgetown (nine tackles with two tackles for loss and a sack) and Sacred Heart (nine total tackles). Through 10 games this year, Adams has 105 total tackles, including 88 solo stops, four 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 198 tackles, 157 solo stops and six tackles for loss.
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 the game 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 10 games on the year, he leads the team with three interceptions and 53 interception return yards. Gough also ranks fourth on the squad with 41 tackles, including 36 solo stops, and has six pass breakups. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Gough has now totaled 89 tackles, four interceptions and 14 pass breakups.
Crusaders Dominate Turnover Battle
Through 10 games so far this season, Holy Cross has forced its opponents to commit 20 turnovers, while giving the ball away only 11 times. The Crusader defense has posted 10 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 (White Plains, N.Y.) has three interceptions, sophomore strong safety Kent Flanders (Atlanta, Ga.) has a pair of fumble recoveries, and senior linebacker Matt Dugan (Washington, D.C.) 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 five interception this season, and have lost only six 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 one game remaining in the 2005 regular season, Silva needs 287 all-purpose yards to break the Holy Cross single-season record (2,173 by Gordie Lockbaum in 1987), and 321 all-purpose yards to break the school career record (5,226 by Ari Confesor from 2000-2003).
Defense Stepping Up In 2005
The Holy Cross defense is much improved this season, and has held four of its 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 (Lehigh averages 38.0 points and 414.5 yards per game). 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 391.9 yards and 23.0 points per contest. In addition, the Crusaders have forced a total of 20 turnovers on the season, with 10 interceptions and 10 fumble recoveries. Last year, Holy Cross allowed its opponents to average 33.4 points and 412.0 yards per game.
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 Nov. 12. 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 209.7 Punt Returns 1 Steve Silva 19.5 2 Holy Cross 17.0 Solo Tackles 1 Dan Adams 8.8 11 Chris Nielsen 6.1 Turnovers Lost 2 Holy Cross 1.1 Fewest Penalties 8 Holy Cross 4.5 Turnover Margin 12 Holy Cross +0.9 Receptions 18 Steve Silva 5.9 Total Tackles 21 Dan Adams 10.5 Fewest Penalty Yards 22 Holy Cross 43.3 Kickoff Returns 23 Steve Silva 24.8 Completions 32 John O'Neil 17.0 Scoring 33 Steve Silva 7.3
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.
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 342-161-27 (.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 14-19 at home. Holy Cross had a 3-3 mark at Fitton Field this year, marking the team's first non-losing season at home since the 2001 team went 3-2.
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. 12. Senior tailback Steve Silva ranks first in the conference in all-purpose yards (209.7 yards/game), first in receptions (5.9 catches/game), first in punt returns (19.5 yards/return), second in scoring (7.3 points/game), third in kickoff returns (24.8 yards/return) and fourth in rushing (77.1 yards/game), while senior quarterback John O'Neil stands second in passing yards (181.7 yards/game), second in total offense (194.9 yards/game) and third in passing efficiency (118.0 rating). In addition, senior wide receiver Sean Gruber ranks fifth in scoring (6.0 points/game), junior placekicker Mike DeSantis (Belle Mead, N.J.) stands second in extra point percentage (97.1 percent), junior cornerback Casey Gough and senior cornerback Tyler Nugent are tied for third in interceptions (0.3 picks/game) and junior punter Ryan McManaway (Ferdinand, Ind.) stands third in punting (36.0 yards/punt). As a team, Holy Cross leads the league in turnover margin (+0.9 turnovers/game) and punt returns (17.0 yards/return); stands second in scoring offense (26.6 points/game), kickoff returns (21.4 yards/return) and net punting (33.1 yards/punt); and ranks third in pass efficiency (120.3 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 8-13, as the Crusaders have won eight of his last 15 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.
Scouting The Bison
Bucknell stands 1-9 overall and 0-5 in the Patriot League this year, and is looking to avoid only the second winless conference season in school history (the 2002 Bison were 0-7 in the Patriot League). The Bucknell offense is led by senior quarterback Dante Ross, who has rushed for 765 yards and seven touchdowns this year, while completing 48 of 97 passes for 654 yards and three scores with four interceptions. Freshman wide out Daniel Zvara leads the Bison in receiving, with 14 catches for 247 yards and a touchdown. Sophomore linebacker Ryan Slater has 79 tackles to lead the Bucknell defense, while junior linebacker Dorian Peterson has totaled 78 tackles and three interceptions. Tim Landis is now in his third season as Bucknell's head coach, and has posted an overall record of 14-19. Landis' career record stands at 67-71-1, including three years at St. Mary's (Calif.) and seven seasons at Davidson.
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 is 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, is 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 had 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 was shown by the Lafayette Sports Network (Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh, 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'.
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 561-454-54, good for a .550 winning percentage. Entering the 2005 season, Holy Cross' 556 all-time victories ranked as the 13th most among all Division I-AA schools. Holy Cross has had 31 first team All-America selections, sent 69 players on to professional football, won five Lambert Cups, claimed five Patriot League championships, and was named the Division I-AA Team of the Year in 1987. The Crusaders also played in the 1946 Orange Bowl, losing to host Miami on the game's final play.
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 ... The Crusader offense has scored points on 31 of its 34 trips into the red zone this season, with 28 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 (Chicago, Ill.), 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 ... 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).