Crusaders Set To Face Leopards For Patriot League Crown

Rob Petrosino

Complete Release in PDF Format

Video: Coach Gilmore previews the Lafayette game with TV3's Andy Lacombe

Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams:
#13 Holy Cross (8-1, 4-0 PL) vs. #20 Lafayette (8-1, 4-0 PL)
Date: November 14, 2009
Time: 12:30 p.m.
Place: Fitton Field (23,500), Worcester, Mass.
Television: WCTR TV-3, Worcester; Kevin Shea, play-by-play; Andy Lacombe, color; Dave Bolduc, sidelines
Live Video Streaming: Crusader Vision
Unofficial Live Statistics: Click Here
Holy Cross Radio:
WWFX 100.1 FM, Worcester; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Tom Kelleher, color; Click Here for Internet Broadcast
Holy Cross Student Radio: WCHC 88.1 FM, Worcester
Lafayette Radio: WGPA 1100 AM, Bethlehem, Pa.
Series Record: Lafayette leads, 14-9
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 27, Lafayette 26; November 15, 2008; Easton Pa.

The Series With Lafayette
This will be the 24th meeting between the Crusaders and the Leopards on the gridiron, with Lafayette leading the all-time series 14-9. The road team has won the last four contests in the series, including a last-second 27-26 victory by Holy Cross in Easton last season. For games played in Worcester, the Leopards hold a narrow 6-5 advantage. Lafayette has won its last three visits to Fitton Field, since the Crusaders posted a 63-53 victory on Oct. 20, 2001. The schools first met on Sept. 20, 1986, with Holy Cross coming out victorious 38-14 in Easton.

Series Quick Facts
Overall: Lafayette leads, 14-9
In Worcester: Lafayette leads, 6-5
At Fitton Field: Lafayette leads, 6-5
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, one game
Tom Gilmore vs. Lafayette: 2-3
Frank Tavani vs. Holy Cross: 6-3

Patriot League Title On The Line
The Crusaders enter this week's contest in a tie for first place in the Patriot League with a 4-0 mark in conference games this year. Lafayette is also unbeaten in league play with a 4-0 record, so the winner of this week's game will earn at least a share of the Patriot League title and the conference's automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs. The Crusaders have won five Patriot League championships in their history (all of them outright), but have not captured the conference title since 1991. Holy Cross also won league titles in 1986, 1987, 1989 and 1990. This season, the Crusaders have won their first four Patriot League games for the second straight year and the seventh time in school history. During five of the previous six seasons in which Holy Cross opened Patriot League play 4-0, it went on to win the conference title with an unbeaten league record. Now in their 24th season of play in the Patriot League, the Crusaders own an all-time record of 73-58 (.595) in conference action.

Biggest Game At Fitton Field Since...
This week's game between Holy Cross and Lafayette will be one of the biggest played at Fitton Field in recent years. The last time the Crusaders played a home contest with the Patriot League title on the line came on Nov. 17, 1990, when Holy Cross entered the game at 4-0 and Colgate came in at 3-1 (the Crusaders won 35-6). Several other big games of note came during the 1980s, including the Nov. 22, 1986, contest with Boston College (Holy Cross led 14-0 early, before the Eagles came back to win 56-26), the Dec. 1, 1984, game with Boston College (the Eagles won 45-10 on the day Doug Flutie won the Heisman Trophy) and the Dec. 3, 1983, contest with Western Carolina (the Catamounts won 28-21 in the quarterfinals of the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs).

Senior Salute
Holy Cross has 31 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 defensive back Dakota Allosso (Virginia Beach, Va.), tight end Mike Argillander (Detroit, Mich.), offensive lineman Matt Brady (Tucson, Ariz.), linebacker Anthony Campbell (New Albany, Ohio), defensive lineman Alex Carson (Atlanta, Ga.), linebacker Andrew Cialino (Medford, N.J.), wide receiver Nick Cole (Tucson, Ariz.), wide receiver Bill Edger (Hainesport, N.J.), wide receiver Mike Frawley (Glen Mills, Pa.), offensive lineman Chris Fucillo (Rockland, Mass.), wide receiver Taylor Glor (Wellesley, Mass.), defensive back Pat Haidon (West Seneca, N.Y.), linebacker Matt Jackson (Cincinnati, Ohio), offensive Lineman Justin Johnson (Lebanon, Ohio), offensive lineman Aaron Jones (Springfield, Ohio), quarterback Joe Kosich (Southampton, Pa.), linebacker Sean Lamkin (Jenks, Okla.), defensive back Jachin Leatherman (Washington, D.C.), defensive back Quentin Liggins (Minneapolis, Minn.), defensive lineman Nicholas MacDonald (Lackawanna, N.Y.), defensive back John Myrick (Dayton, Ohio), linebacker Wayne Nesbit (Washington, D.C.), tight end Paul Nielsen (Center Line, Mich.), tight end Josh Nims (Royal Oak, Mich.), offensive lineman Rob Petrosino (Bogota, N.J.), offensive lineman Chris Poole (Scituate, Mass.), quarterback Dominic Randolph (Amelia, Ohio), linebacker Marcus Rodriguez (Peoria, Ariz.), offensive lineman Chris Smith (Buffalo, N.Y.), offensive lineman Brandt Tierney (Sagamore Beach, Mass.) and defensive back Michael Wright (Fort Washington, Md.). These 31 players will be recognized prior to the start of the game, along with team managers Kurt Gambke and Katie Nugent. The Crusader seniors have led the team to a 29-13 record over the last four seasons, good for the school's most victories in a four-year period since 1990-1993.

Crusaders Look For Ninth Victory
With an 8-1 mark so far in 2009, the Crusaders have reached eight victories for the 21st time in school history and the first time since going 11-0 in 1991. If Holy Cross can defeat Lafayette this week, it will reach nine wins for only the ninth time in the history of the program. Previous nine-win seasons have come in 1935 (9-0-1), 1983 (9-2-1), 1986 (10-1), 1987 (11-0), 1988 (9-2), 1989 (10-1), 1990 (9-1-1) and 1991 (11-0). The Crusaders have also guaranteed themselves a winning record for the fifth straight year, after going 7-4 in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and 6-5 in 2005. This marks the first time the Crusaders have posted five straight winning seasons since finishing with a winning mark in seven straight years from 1986-1992.

Randolph Leads Crusader Offense
Senior Dominic Randolph is now in his fourth season as Holy Cross' starting quarterback, and is one of the favorites to win the Walter Payton Award, presented annually to the top player in the NCAA football championship subdivision. In nine games this year, he has completed 227 of 349 attempts for 2,810 yards and 28 touchdowns, in addition to leading the team in rushing with 426 yards and five scores on 87 carries. During last week's victory at Lehigh, Randolph connected on 23 of 37 attempts for 247 yards and two touchdowns, while leading an 81-yard scoring drive in the final five minutes of the fourth quarter. Previously against Fordham, he completed 23 of 35 attempts for 314 yards and four scores, while rushing for 75 yards on 16 carries. Earlier in the season against Colgate, Randolph hit on 20 of 31 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns, in addition to rushing 14 times for a career-high 116 yards and two scores. Randolph has also played well against Brown (38 of 53 attempts for 411 yards and four scores), Dartmouth (26 of 36 for 264 yards and three touchdowns), Northeastern (16 of 24 for 305 yards and five scores), Harvard (25 of 39 for 293 yards and two touchdowns, 41 rushing yards and a score), Sacred Heart (274 passing yards and two touchdowns, 64 rushing yards and two scores) and Georgetown (36 of 56 for 414 yards and two touchdowns). In 2008, Randolph threw for at least 300 yards in each of his last eight games, including three 400-yard performances. In 11 games played last season, he hit on 340 of 520 passes for 3,838 yards and 34 touchdowns. Randolph set new Holy Cross single-season records for passing yards, total offense (3,917 yards), completions and pass attempts, while tying the mark for touchdown passes in 2008.

Randolph Attacks Record Book
Over the course of his collegiate career, senior quarterback Dominic Randolph has completed 1,048 of 1,650 passes for 12,489 yards and 111 scores, while amassing 13,220 yards of total offense. During the Georgetown game, he broke the Holy Cross and Patriot League records for career passing yards, while becoming the first player in school or conference history to throw for over 10,000 career yards. Last season, Randolph broke the Holy Cross career records for completions, pass attempts, touchdown passes and yards of total offense. In addition, his career completion percentage of .635 is the best in school history, while his 22 career 300-yard passing games and seven 400-yard passing games are both the most-ever by a Crusader. Randolph enters this week's game ranked fifth all-time in NCAA football championship subdivision (formerly Division I-AA) history in passing yards and yards of total offense, while standing sixth in touchdown passes. He also owns the all-time FCS records with his current streaks of 38 straight games in which he has thrown for at least 200 yards and 39 consecutive games in which he has thrown a touchdown pass.

Smith Keeps Starting At Center
Senior Chris Smith enters the Lafayette game having started 42 consecutive games at center for the Crusaders. During the Lehigh game, he broke the all-time school record for consecutive games started, which had been held by Casey Gough (41 straight starts) from 2004-2007. Smith started all 11 of the Crusaders' games in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and has started all eight contests so far in 2009. This week, he can tie the all-time school record for total games started, which is currently shared by Gough and Patrick Quay (1997-2000) at 43 starts.

Head Coach Tom Gilmore
Tom Gilmore is now in his sixth season as head coach at the College of the Holy Cross. Gilmore currently owns an overall record of 38-26, including a 35-18 mark since the beginning of the 2005 campaign. He has led Holy Cross to winning records in five straight seasons, including 7-4 marks in 2006, 2007 and 2008, along with winning streaks of six games (in 2008) and five games (in 2006). Two of Gilmore's players, Dominic Randolph (2007 and 2008) and Steve Silva (2005), have been named the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, with Silva also earning first team All-America honors. Gilmore has also led the Crusaders to three victories over ranked opponents, two of which have come in 2009. Prior to his time at Holy Cross, Gilmore served as an assistant coach at Lehigh (2000-2003), 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.

Starters Shine In Secondary
All four of the starters in the Holy Cross defensive backfield have been playing well during the 2009 season. Senior cornerback John Myrick ranks third on the team with 60 total tackles, to go along with five pass breakups and three forced fumbles. During his career as a Crusader, he has now recorded 79 total tackles and six pass breakups. Junior strong safety Anthony DiMichele (McKees Rocks, Pa.) stands fourth on the squad with 54 total tackles this year, in addition to posting four tackles for loss, five pass breakups and one interception. Over the course of his collegiate career, he has now totaled 126 tackles, 15 pass breakups and three interceptions. Junior free safety Alex Johnson (Indianapolis, Ind.) has recorded 41 total tackles so far in 2009, in addition to posting five pass breakups, an interception and a forced fumble. His three-year career totals at Holy Cross now include 91 tackles and 11 pass breakups. Senior cornerback Michael Wright has recorded 46 total tackles, a team-high 13 pass breakups and two interceptions on the season. A second team All-Patriot League selection in 2008, he has now totaled 89 tackles, 26 pass breakups and three interceptions during his collegiate career.

Offensive Line Paves The Way
Holy Cross has a number of experienced players along the offensive line, where it has one of the most dominating units in the Patriot League in 2009. So far this season, the line has paved the way for the Crusaders to average 34.8 points and 445.6 total yards per contest. The line has allowed Holy Cross to throw for 312.6 yards per game in 2009, and has given up only 11 sacks while the team has attempted 352 passes (just one sack for every 33.0 times the team dropped back to pass). Starters on the Holy Cross line include senior Chris Smith at center, senior Chris Poole at guard, senior Aaron Jones at tackle and junior Mike McCabe (Watertown, Conn.) at tackle. Junior Mike Bernazzani (Whitman, Mass.) and senior Rob Petrosino have both started games at the other guard spot. All told, those six offensive linemen have combined for 134 career starts. A year ago, Jones was named first team All-Patriot League and Poole earned second team All-Patriot League honors.

The Last Meeting With Lafayette
Dominic Randolph hit on 28 of 49 passes for 422 yards and three scores, to lead Holy Cross to a 27-26 victory over Lafayette at Fisher Field on Nov. 15, 2008. Holy Cross trailed 26-20 late in the fourth quarter, when Randolph threw a 37-yard touchdown pass to Rob Koster with just six seconds remaining. Matt Partain then added the extra point to give the Crusaders the one-point victory. Lafayette had opened the game by taking a 7-0 lead in the first quarter on a 44-yard touchdown pass from Marc Quilling to Shaun Adair. Holy Cross tied the score on its next possession, with Randolph throwing a 39-yard scoring strike to Brett McDermott. The Leopards went back in front in the second quarter on a pair of field goals by Davis Rodriguez, and took a 13-7 lead into the locker room. In the third quarter, Lafayette increased its lead to 20-7 on a two-yard touchdown run by DeAndre Morrow. Partain then kicked a pair of field goals, from 23 yards and 32 yards, making the score 20-13 early in the fourth quarter. With just 5:36 left to play, Randolph threw a 22-yard touchdown pass to Nick Cole to tie the game at 20-20. The Leopards regained the lead on their next possession, with Morrow scoring on a 26-yard run, but Rodriguez's extra point attempt was wide left, leaving Lafayette with just a six-point lead, 26-20. Randolph then directed the Crusaders on a 10-play, 72-yard drive to win the game. Koster finished the game with the first three receptions of his collegiate career for 83 yards, while McDermott added eight catches for 107 yards. On the defensive side of the ball, Brian Billman made a team-high 12 tackles, and Anthony Campbell added six tackles, including three tackles for loss and two sacks.

Crusaders Bring In Academic Honors
Two Holy Cross players have been honored this season for their performance both in the classroom and on the football field. Senior center Chris Smith was selected as a semifinalist for the 2009 William V. Campbell Trophy, which is presented to the top scholar-athlete in the nation by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame. Smith and junior offensive tackle Mike McCabe also earned ESPN The Magazine first team Academic All-District honors from the College Sports Information Directors of America, with Smith being honored for the third straight year.

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 358-166-27 (.674). 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 30-24 at home, with a 5-0 mark so far in 2009. Holy Cross has posted a winning record at home for the fourth straight season, and has a chance to finish with a perfect record at Fitton Field for the first time since 1991 (when it went 4-0). The Crusaders have not won six games at home since going 6-0 in 1988.

Experienced Wide Receivers Shine
Holy Cross once again has a number of outstanding weapons in the passing game, as six different wide receivers have caught at least 12 passes so far this season. Junior wide out Luke Chmielinski (Walpole, Mass.) leads the way with 45 catches for 588 yards and three touchdowns. Senior wide out Bill Edger is also enjoying a strong year, catching 36 passes for 588 yards and four scores. In addition, junior wide receiver Freddie Santana (Staten Island, N.Y.) has totaled 33 receptions for 456 yards and seven touchdowns, senior wide receiver Nick Cole has posted 20 catches for 209 yards and five scores, junior wide receiver Rob Koster (Bellerose, N.Y.) has caught 18 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns, and sophomore wide out Charles McCall (Rancho Cucamonga, Calif.) has added 12 receptions for 97 yards and a score. Overall, the Crusaders have 11 wide receivers and 17 total players with at least one reception on the season.

Bellomo & Houghton Provide Solid Combination At Tailback
Sophomore tailback Matt Bellomo (Holliston, Mass.) and freshman tailback Eddie Houghton (Toronto, Ontario) have both played well during the 2009 season. Bellomo ranks second on the team in rushing with 424 yards and four touchdowns on 84 carries, in addition to catching 31 passes for 246 yards. He has rushed for over 50 yards five times this year, including a career-high 91 yards against Dartmouth. Last season, Bellomo ran for 150 yards on 39 attempts, while catching four passes for 37 yards. Houghton ranks third on the team with 281 rushing yards and four scores on 48 carries this year, and also has four catches for 34 yards. Houghton's 52 rushing yards in the season opener against Georgetown were the most by a Holy Cross player in his collegiate debut since Gideon Akande ran for 87 yards on eight carries against Georgetown in 2002.

Rodriguez Racks Up Tackles
Senior linebacker Marcus Rodriguez has been one of the top players on the Holy Cross defense over the last few years, and was named second team All-Patriot League in 2008. This season, Rodriguez leads the team with 80 total tackles through nine games, in addition to posting six pass breakups. During last week's victory at Lehigh, he ranked second on the team with 12 total tackles. Previously at Fordham, Rodriguez led the team with 16 total tackles, including a tackle for loss. Earlier in the season against Colgate, he made 12 total tackles with one tackle for loss. Some of Rodriguez's other top games this season have come against Brown (12 total tackles and a pass breakup), Georgetown (team-high eight solo tackles and two pass breakups), Dartmouth (six tackles and a pass breakup), Harvard (five tackles) and Northeastern (five tackles). Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Rodriguez has now totaled 218 total tackles with 12 tackles for loss.

Offense Puts Up Big Numbers
The Holy Cross offense has put up some impressive numbers during the 2009 season. The Crusaders have averaged 34.8 points and 445.6 yards of total offense per game on the year. Holy Cross has thrown for 312.6 yards per game this season, while averaging 133.0 yards per contest on the ground. The Crusaders have hit the 40-point mark four times this season, scoring 52 points against Sacred Heart, 42 points against both Colgate and Northeastern, and 41 points against Fordham. The 52 points against Sacred Heart were Holy Cross' highest total since scoring 59 points at Lehigh in 2007. In 2008, the Crusaders averaged 34.4 points and 455.4 total yards per game. Holy Cross also totaled 348.9 passing yards per game a year ago, the second-most in school history behind only the 1987 team which averaged 358.4 yards through the air.

Crusaders Among League Leaders
Several Holy Cross players rank at or near the top of the Patriot League standings in a number of statistical categories, through games of Nov. 7. Senior quarterback Dominic Randolph leads the league in total offense (359.6 yards/game), while standing second in both passing yards (312.2 yards/game) and pass efficiency (152.3 rating). Junior placekicker Rob Dornfried (Berlin, Conn.) ranks second in field goals (0.9 made/game) and third in scoring (6.9 points/game), while junior wide out Freddie Santana leads the conference in punt returns (7.8 yards/return). In addition, junior free safety Alex Johnson stands third in the league in kickoff returns (23.2 yards/return), and senior wide receiver Bill Edger and junior wide out Luke Chmielinski are tied for fifth in receiving yards (65.3 yards/game). As a team, Holy Cross leads the league in scoring offense (34.8 points/game), punt returns (10.0 yards/return) and net punting (35.9 yards/punt); while standing second in total offense (445.6 yards/game), rushing defense (108.9 yards/game), passing offense (312.6 yards/game), pass efficiency (151.6 rating) and pass efficiency defense (119.7 rating); and ranking third in scoring defense (21.3 points/game) and rushing offense (133.0 yards/game).

Scouting The Leopards
Lafayette enters this week's game with an overall record of 8-1 on the season, including a 4-0 mark in the Patriot League. The Leopards have won seven straight games, since falling to Liberty (19-13) on Sept. 19. Senior quarterback Rob Curley leads the Lafayette offense, completing 187 of 276 passes for 2,432 yards and 23 touchdowns with nine interceptions. Junior wide out Mark Layton leads the team with 53 receptions for 646 yards and 10 touchdowns, while senior tailback Maurice White has rushed for 495 yards and five touchdowns on 108 carries. Defensively, the Leopards are led by junior linebacker Mike Schmidlein with 88 tackles and six tackles for loss. Frank Tavani is now in his 10th season as Lafayette's head coach, and has posted an overall record of 60-51. 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 On The Radio
All of Holy Cross' games in 2009 will air on The Pike, WWFX 100.1 FM in Worcester. Holy Cross Hall of Famer Bob Fouracre is in his 40th season calling the play-by-play for Holy Cross football, and his 24th 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 10th year as the color commentator. All of the Crusaders' games will also be available free of charge over the internet through the Worcester Pike website. 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 four games shown on live television during the 2009 season. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule for the 2009 campaign:

Sept. 19 vs. Harvard: WCTR-TV3
Oct. 24 vs. Colgate: WCTR-TV3
Nov. 7 at Lehigh: Service Electric
Nov. 14 vs. Lafayette: WCTR-TV3 / Lafayette Sports Network

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 through SportsJuice.

Crusader Vision
Live video streaming of all 2009 Holy Cross home football games will be available over the internet through Crusader Vision.The package, done in association with Stretch Internet, is available for $6.95 per game. For details on how to view games through Crusader Vision, click here.

Quick Hits
The Crusaders are ranked fifth in the latest Lambert Cup poll, through games of Oct. 31 ... The Holy Cross defensive line is now being coached on an interim basis by Walt Housman, who joined the program as a volunteer defensive ends coach this summer. He is taking on the coaching duties of Pat O'Leary, who is on a medical leave of absence ... During the Oct. 24 victory over Colgate, the Crusaders wore pink shoelaces as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.