Crusaders Return To Action At #7 New Hampshire
Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (2-1, 1-0 PL) vs. #7 New Hampshire (2-1, 1-0 CAA)
Date: October 1, 2011
Time: 12:00 p.m.
Place: Cowell Stadium (6,500), Durham, N.H.
Live Video Streaming: www.UNHWildcats.tv
Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM & 94.9 FM, Worcester; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Charles Bare, color; Click Here to Listen
Unofficial Live Statistics: Presto Sports Primetime
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 6-5
Last Meeting: New Hampshire 14, Holy Cross 13; November 10, 1984; Worcester, Mass.
The Series With New Hampshire
This will be only the 12th meeting between the Crusaders and the Wildcats on the gridiron, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 6-5. The schools have not met since Nov. 10, 1984, when New Hampshire earned a 14-13 victory at Fitton Field. The Wildcats hold a 3-2 advantage for games played in Durham, although the Crusaders did post a 42-30 win during their last visit to Cowell Stadium (on Sept. 24, 1983). The schools first met on Oct. 2, 1909, with Holy Cross winning 13-0 in Worcester.
Series Quick Facts
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 6-5
In Durham: New Hampshire leads, 3-2
At Cowell Stadium: Tied, 2-2
Current Win Streak: New Hampshire, one game
Tom Gilmore vs. New Hampshire: 0-0
Sean McDonnell vs. Holy Cross: 0-0
Holy Cross Against The CAA
The Crusaders own an all-time record of 59-47-6 against the 11 schools which currently compete in the Colonial Athletic Association. This will be Holy Cross' second game against the league this year, after falling to UMass 24-16 in the season opener. The Crusaders' all-time record against the Colonial Athletic Association includes marks of 2-1 against Delaware, 5-0-1 vs. Maine, 21-24-5 against Massachusetts, 6-5 vs. New Hampshire, 9-1 against Rhode Island, 1-0 vs. Richmond, 4-3 against Towson, 9-13 vs. Villanova and 2-0 against William & Mary.
Taggart Shines At Quarterback
Senior quarterback Ryan Taggart (Bedford, Texas) is in his second year as the starter for the Crusaders in 2011. In three games played so far this year, he has connected on 58 of 95 attempts for 789 yards and four touchdowns without an interception. During the victory over Harvard, Taggart hit on 22 of 35 passes for 320 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 34 yards and a score on nine attempts. Previously against Colgate, he completed 13 of 16 passes for 223 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to rushing for a score. In the season opener against Massachusetts, Taggart hit on 23 of 44 attempts for 246 yards and a touchdown, while rushing for 15 yards and a score on nine carries. Last year, he connected on 185 of 317 passes for 1,899 yards and 14 touchdowns, in addition to ranking second on the team in rushing with 284 yards and five scores on 85 carries. A few of Taggart's top performances in 2010 came against Lafayette (accounting for 246 yards of total offense and four touchdowns), Fordham (27 of 37 for 289 yards and a touchdown, plus 75 rushing yards and a score) and Howard (17 of 29 for 186 yards and three touchdowns). During his career with the Crusaders, Taggart has now completed 245 of 414 passes for 2,691 yards and 18 touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 354 yards and eight scores on 109 carries.
Taggart Avoids Interceptions
Senior quarterback Ryan Taggart has not thrown an interception yet this season, and the last interception of his career came back on Oct. 16, 2010, at Dartmouth. Since that game, he has thrown 201 consecutive passes without being picked off. Taggart's streak of 201 straight pass attempts without being picked off is believed to be the longest in school history. Here is a look at the longest known streaks by a Holy Cross quarterback without an interception:
|1.||Ryan Taggart||201||Oct. 23, 2010-present|
|2.||Dominic Randolph||199||Oct. 6, 2007-Nov. 3, 2007|
|3.||Brian Hall||184||Sept. 30, 2000-Oct. 20, 2011|
|4.||Brion Stapp||162||Oct. 21, 1995-Oct. 5, 1996|
|5.||Dominic Randolph||160||Sept. 30, 2006-Oct. 28, 2006|
Most Passes Without A Pick
Here is a look at the longest active streaks in the NCAA football championship subdivision, for consecutive passes thrown without an interception:
|Ryan Taggart, Holy Cross||201||Oct. 23, 2010-present|
|Mike Hoke, Weber State||160||Oct. 17, 2009-present|
|Isaiah Kempf, Georgetown||131||Oct. 30, 2010-present|
|Warren Smith, Maine||128||Nov. 20, 2010-present|
|Andre Broadous, Cal Poly||116||Sept. 12, 2009-present|
|Mike Croce, Bryant||109||Nov. 6, 2010-present|
|Casey Brockman, Murray State||101||Sept. 17, 2011-present|
Crusaders In The Patriot League
Now in its 26th season of play in the Patriot League, Holy Cross owns an all-time record of 78-61 (.558) in conference action. The Crusaders won their last conference championship in 2009, clinching the title with a 28-26 victory over Lafayette to earn the league's automatic bid to the NCAA playoffs. Holy Cross' six Patriot League championships (all of them outright) have come in 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991 and 2009. The Crusaders are tied for the second-most championships in conference history, behind only Lehigh with nine titles. In 2009, Holy Cross won five Patriot League games for just the fourth time in school history. The Crusaders previously went 5-1 in 2008, while posting 5-0 conference records in 1990 and 1991.
Fenner & Zitnik Star At Corner
Senior cornerback Chandler Fenner (Virginia Beach, Va.) and sophomore cornerback Andrew Zitnik (Warren, Ohio) are both enjoying strong seasons in the Holy Cross secondary. In three games played so far this year, Fenner has recorded 15 tackles, one interception and a team-high seven pass breakups. During last week's victory over Harvard, he totaled seven solo tackles with an interception and two pass breakups. Fenner previously posted four tackles and a career-high three pass breakups against Massachusetts, and had four tackles and two pass breakups against Colgate. Last season, he earned first team All-Patriot League honors after finishing with 58 tackles, one quarterback sack, two tackles for loss, four pass breakups, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a blocked punt. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Fenner has now totaled 105 tackles, one interception, two forced fumbles and 11 pass breakups in 36 games played. Zitnik has recorded a team-high 26 tackles, one interception and two pass breakups in the first three games this season. Last week against Harvard, he led the team with nine tackles and returned an interception 97 yards for a touchdown. Earlier this season, Zitnik made 11 tackles and broke up a pass against Massachusetts. He has now made 29 tackles over the course of his collegiate career, in addition to returning 18 kickoffs for 474 yards (26.3 average).
Holy Cross Draws Huge Crowd For Season Opener
During the season-opening game against Massachusetts on Sept. 1, a total of 15,942 fans showed up at Fitton Field. That marked the largest home attendance for the Crusaders since Oct. 20, 1990, when a crowd of 17,848 was on hand to watch Holy Cross defeat Lehigh 34-22. The Crusaders have played in front of numerous home crowds of over 25,000 in their history, prior to the stadium renovation in 1986 which reduced the seating capacity to 23,500. The largest unofficial attendance at Fitton Field was 27,000 for the Holy Cross-Brown game on Nov. 11, 1938.
The Last Meeting With New Hampshire
New Hampshire running back Andre Garron carried 28 times for 138 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Wildcats to a 14-13 victory over Holy Cross at Fitton Field on Nov. 10, 1984. Gill Fenerty led the Crusaders by rushing 29 times for 91 yards and catching a game-high four passes for another 63 yards. Holy Cross had opened the game by taking a 3-0 lead on a 27-yard Tony Melink field goal at the 4:39-mark of the first quarter, after Jim Boyle had forced Garron to fumble at the New Hampshire 40-yard line. The Wildcats responded with a five-play, 61-yard drive on their next possession, with Garron rushing 16 yards for a touchdown to make the score 7-3. The Crusaders responded with a 21-yard scoring pass from Peter Muldoon to Bill Cowley in the second quarter, and took a 10-7 lead into the locker room. That touchdown was set up when John Vesprani blocked a punt, which was recovered by Boyle at the New Hampshire 21-yard line. Neither team scored again until early in the fourth quarter, when Garron ran three yards for his second touchdown of the day to put the Wildcats up 14-10. Holy Cross was able to make the score 14-13 with 7:11 to play on a 31-yard field goal by Melink, after Vesprani sacked New Hampshire punter Glenn Fogg at the Wildcat 19-yard line on fourth-and-one. The Crusaders were able to drive into New Hampshire territory one last time in the closing minutes, but Melink's 53-yard field goal attempt with 1:37 to play came up short. Dave Neilson had eight tackles on the day, leading a Holy Cross defense which held the Wildcats to just 209 yards of total offense, including only 16 passing yards.
Trio Of Seniors Lead Linebackers
Senior linebacker C.J. Martin (Plano, Texas), senior linebacker Ricky Otis (Cleves, Ohio) and senior linebacker Jimmy Thomas (Severn, Md.) are once again key parts of the Holy Cross defense in 2011. Otis currently ranks third on the team with 24 tackles so far this season, including three tackles for loss. He totaled 10 tackles with two tackles for loss in the season opener against Massachusetts, then added nine tackles in the victory over Colgate. Last season, Otis led the team with 108 total tackles and earned first team All-Patriot League honors, despite missing two games due to injury. He reached double-figures in tackles six times in 2010, including a career-high 17 tackles at Lafayette. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Otis now has 159 total tackles, two fumble recoveries and two pass breakups. Martin has made 15 tackles in two games this season, with a high of six tackles against Massachusetts in the season opener. He ranked second on the team with 95 total tackles last year, including 61 solo stops and two tackles for loss. Martin recorded double-digit tackles four times in 2010, with a high of 18 tackles at Massachusetts. Over the course of his collegiate career, Martin has now recorded 143 tackles, four tackles for loss, two interceptions and three pass breakups. Thomas has totaled 15 tackles, two tackles for loss and an interception so far this year, despite missing a game due to injury. During the victory over Colgate, he had 10 tackles, one tackle for loss and a 60-yard interception return for a touchdown. Thomas previously recorded 35 tackles with five tackles for loss in 2010, after totaling 67 tackles, nine tackles for loss and four sacks in 2009. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Thomas now has 119 tackles, 16 tackles for loss and five sacks.
Offensive Line Paves The Way For Success
The Holy Cross offensive line is once again one of the most dominating units in the Patriot League this year. In three games played so far this season, the line has paved the way for the Crusaders to average 27.7 points and 381.3 total yards per game. Holy Cross has also allowed only three sacks, while attempting 96 passes this year (just one sack for every 33.0 times the team has dropped back to pass). The most experienced player on the line is senior left tackle Mike McCabe (Watertown, Conn.), who has been named All-Patriot League in each of the last two seasons, and has played in 39 career games with 28 starts. Senior center Sean Whited (Canton, Ohio) has played in 15 career games with 11 starts, and junior right tackle Kyle Pedretty (Dunedin, Fla.) has 14 career games played and 14 starts. In addition, junior left guard Casey Bessemer (Jacksonville Beach, Fla.) has played in 14 career games with three starts, and senior right guard Andrew Jameson (Brockton, Mass.) has played and started three career games.
Crusaders Look To Post Another Winning Season
In 2011, Holy Cross will attempt to finish with a winning record for the seventh year in a row. The Crusaders concluded the 2010 season with an overall mark of 6-5, after going 9-3 in 2009 (marking only the ninth time in the school history the team has won at least nine games). Holy Cross previously went 7-4 in 2006, 2007 and 2008, and its 36-20 mark over the last five seasons is its best in a five-year span since going 39-15-1 from 1989-1993. Holy Cross also posted a winning record in 2005 (6-5), and has an overall mark of 42-25 since the beginning of the 2005 campaign. This marks the first time the Crusaders have posted six straight winning seasons since finishing with a winning mark in seven straight years from 1986-1992.
Defending The Home Turf
Holy Cross has enjoyed great success at Fitton Field over the years, and has a 2-1 mark at home so far in 2011. The Crusaders, who played their first game at Fitton Field in 1903, have posted an all-time home mark of 365-168-27 (.676). From Oct. 11, 2008-Oct. 9, 2010, Holy Cross had a streak of 13 straight victories at home. The Crusaders had a perfect 6-0 mark at Fitton Field in 2009, and finished the 2010 campaign with a winning record at home for the fifth straight season. 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 In The NCAA Statistics
Six Crusaders are ranked among the NCAA leaders in various statistical categories, through games of Sept. 24. As a team, Holy Cross leads the nation in punt return coverage, while standing 12th in scoring defense. The rankings:
|Category||Rank||Player / Team||Avg. / Pct.|
|Passes Defended||1||Chandler Fenner||2.7|
|Punt Return Coverage||1||Holy Cross||-1.2|
|Fewest Penalty Yards||3||Holy Cross||25.0|
|Fewest Penalties||4||Holy Cross||3.3|
|Solo Tackles||9||Tom Mannix||7.0|
|Quarterback Sacks||10||Mike Tucker||1.0|
|Scoring Defense||12||Holy Cross||17.7|
|Fourth Down Conversions||12||Holy Cross||80.0|
|Total Offense||13||Ryan Taggart||284.0|
|Passing Yards||15||Ryan Taggart||263.0|
|Points Responsible For||21||Ryan Taggart||14.0|
|Pass Efficiency||27||Ryan Taggart||144.7|
|Passing Defense||29||Holy Cross||174.7|
|Forced Fumbles||50||Tom Mannix||0.3|
Schneider Shines At Tight End
Senior tight end Alex Schneider (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) is once again a key part of the Holy Cross passing game in 2011. In three games played so far this year, Schneider has caught three passes for 35 yards. In 11 games last season, he ranked fourth on the team with 30 receptions for 217 yards and a score. During the 2010 victory over Fordham, Schneider totaled four catches for 31 yards and a touchdown. An All-Patriot League selection in each of the last two years, Schneider finished the 2009 campaign ranked fourth on the team with 33 receptions for 275 yards, while his six touchdown catches were the second-most on the squad. He ranked second among Patriot League tight ends in both receptions and receiving yards in 2009, and finished the 2009 season with a streak of 10 straight games with at least one catch. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Schneider has now totaled 66 catches for 527 yards and seven touchdowns.
Crusaders Among League Leaders
A few Holy Cross players rank at or near the top of the Patriot League standings in a number of statistical categories, through games of Sept. 24. Senior quarterback Ryan Taggart leads the way by ranking second in the league in both passing yards (263.0 yards/game) and total offense (284.0 yards/game), while standing third in pass efficiency (142.2 rating). In addition, sophomore cornerback Andrew Zitnik is fifth in the conference in kickoff returns (20.8 yards/return). As a team, Holy Cross leads the league in scoring defense (17.7 points/game); while standing second in total defense (335.0 yards/game), passing offense (263.0 yards/game), passing defense (174.7 yards/game), pass efficiency (143.2 rating) and net punting (35.2 yards/punt); and ranking third in scoring offense (27.7 points/game), pass efficiency defense (116.5 rating) and turnover margin (+0.7 turnovers/game).
Offense Has Efficient Day
The Holy Cross offense turned in an outstanding all-around performance during the 37-7 victory over Colgate. The Crusaders totaled 403 yards from scrimmage on just 52 plays, good for an average of 7.8 yards per play. Holy Cross also scored points on five of its six possessions during the first three quarters of the game, with four touchdowns and one field goal. The only drive during that time on which the Crusaders did not score was a one-play possession at the end of the first half, after taking over at their own nine-yard line with just 41 seconds remaining before the intermission. In addition, Holy Cross did not attempt any punts during the entire game. That marked the first time the Crusaders did not punt since Oct. 31, 2009, at Fordham (a 41-27 Holy Cross victory in which neither team punted).
Head Coach Tom Gilmore
A two-time Patriot League Coach of the Year (in 2006 and 2009), Tom Gilmore is in his eighth season as the head football coach at Holy Cross in 2011. In 2009, Gilmore led the Crusaders to an overall record of 9-3, the Patriot League championship and a trip to the NCAA playoffs. Also a finalist for the 2009 Eddie Robinson Award, he currently owns an overall record of 47-34 during his time at Holy Cross, including a 44-26 mark since the beginning of the 2005 campaign. Gilmore has led the Crusaders to winning records in six 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 and 2009). Two of Gilmore's players, Dominic Randolph (2007, 2008 and 2009) 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 four victories over ranked opponents, three of which came 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.
Tradition Of Excellence
The 2011 campaign marks the 116th season of Holy Cross football. The Crusaders currently own an overall record of 601-474-54, good for a .556 winning percentage. Prior to the start of the 2011 season, Holy Cross' 599 all-time victories ranked as the 16th 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 six 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.
Holy Cross has three captains during the 2011 football season. Senior offensive tackle Mike McCabe, senior linebacker Ricky Otis and senior quarterback Mark Tolzien (Rolling Meadows, Ill.) were named the team's captains by head coach Tom Gilmore following the conclusion of spring practice. These three players have taken over the leadership role from Anthony DiMichele, Sean Lamkin and Freddie Santana, who served as the Crusaders' captains during the 2010 season.
Holy Cross Picked Third In Patriot League Preseason Poll
The 2011 Crusaders were picked to finish in third place in a preseason poll of the Patriot League's head coaches and sports information directors. In addition, tailback Nate Eachus of Colgate was named the preseason Offensive Player of the Year, while linebacker Mike Groome of Lehigh was chosen as the preseason Defensive Player of the Year.
|Rank||School (1st place votes)||2010 Record||Points|
|1.||Lehigh (8)||10-3 / 6-0 PL||58|
|2.||Colgate (6)||7-4 / 4-2 PL||55|
|3.||Holy Cross||6-5 / 4-2 PL||38|
|4.||Lafayette||2-9 / 1-5 PL||36|
|5.||Georgetown||4-7 / 2-4 PL||19|
|6.||Bucknell||1-10 / 1-5 PL||16|
Holy Cross Has Three Preseason All-America Selections
Three different Crusaders have been chosen as preseason All-Americans heading into the 2011 campaign. Senior linebacker Ricky Otis was honored by two organizations, as he was selected as a second team All-American by the FCS Senior Scout Bowl and an honorable mention All-American by the Beyond Sports Network. In addition, senior cornerback Chandler Fenner was named a second team All-American by the FCS Senior Scout Bowl and senior linebacker C.J. Martin was selected as an honorable mention All-American by the FCS Senior Scout Bowl.
Football Legends Ring Of Honor Inducts Second Class
The athletic department at the College of the Holy Cross recognized four former football standouts on Sept. 1, as the second class of the Crusader Football Legends Ring of Honor. George Connor (1942-1943), Bruce Kozerski (1980-1983), Jon Morris (1961-1963) and Joe Wilson (1970-1972) were honored in a ceremony prior to the UMass game, and received permanent recognition at Fitton Field. Only former Crusader football players who have been elected to the Holy Cross Varsity Club Hall of Fame are eligible for this honor, which is an annual event each fall. In 2010, the inaugural class in the Crusader Football Legends Ring of Fame included, Gill Fenerty (Class of 1986), Gordie Lockbaum (Class of 1988), Edmund Murphy (Class of 1943), Bill Osmanski (Class of 1939), Vince Promuto (Class of 1960) and John Provost (Class of 1975).
Crusaders Bring In Preseason Honors
Several Holy Cross players were selected preseason All-Patriot League by Phil Steele's 2011 College Football Preview. The first team included senior cornerback Chandler Fenner, senior linebacker Ricky Otis and senior tight end Alex Schneider. Junior tailback Sam Auffant (Hampton, N.H.), junior strong safety Tom Mannix (Kenilworth, N.J.), senior linebacker C.J. Martin, senior offensive tackle Mike McCabe, senior defensive end Ryan McGinn (West Chester, Pa.), junior wide receiver Gerald Mistretta (Brooklyn, N.Y.) and senior center Sean Whited were all selected to the second team. In addition, Otis, sophomore wide receiver Mike Fess (Caldwell, N.J.) and sophomore defensive back Andrew Zitnik were all selected to the College Football Performance Awards Watch Lists. Otis is a candidate for the Football Championship Subdivision Linebacker Award, while Fess and Zitnik are both up for the Football Championship Subdivision Kickoff Returner Award.
Crusaders On The Radio
All of Holy Cross' games in 2011 will air on WTAG 580 AM and 94.9 FM in Worcester. Holy Cross Hall of Famer Bob Fouracre is in his 42nd season calling the play-by-play for Holy Cross football, and his 26th year covering the Crusaders on the radio. Former Holy Cross standouts Tom Kelleher and Gordie Lockbaum will serve as color commentators for selected games this season. All of the Crusaders' games will also be available free of charge over the internet by clicking here. 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 five games shown on live television during the 2011 season. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule for the 2011 campaign:
Sept. 1 vs. Massachusetts: CBS Sports Network
Sept. 17 vs. Harvard: Charter TV3
Oct. 15 vs. Dartmouth: Charter TV3
Nov. 5 at Lehigh: Service Electric
Nov. 12 vs. Lafayette: 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, and can be heard by clicking here.
Live video streaming of several 2011 Holy Cross regular season home football games will be available over the internet through Crusader Vision. The package, done in association with Stretch Internet, is available for $8.95 per game. For details on how to view games through Crusader Vision, click here.
Scouting The Wildcats
New Hampshire enters this week's game with an overall record of 2-1 on the season, including a 1-0 mark in the Colonial Athletic Association. The Wildcats, who are coming off a 45-43 victory at Richmond, are currently ranked seventh in the nation by the Sports Network. The New Hampshire offense is led by senior quarterback Kevin Decker, who has completed 66 of 94 passes for 731 yards and six touchdowns with four interceptions, in addition to rushing for 121 yards and five scores on 32 carries. Junior tailback Dontra Peters has carried the ball 27 times for 128 yards this year, and freshman wide out R.J. Harris has a team-best 24 receptions for 273 yards and three touchdowns. On the defensive side of the ball, junior linebacker Matt Evans leads the Wildcats with 52 tackles, two tackles for loss, an interception and a pass breakup. Sean McDonnell is in his 13th season as New Hampshire's head coach, and owns a career record of 90-59.
Sophomore linebacker Mike Tucker (Chester Springs, Pa.) recorded seven total tackles and two quarterback sacks during the victory over Harvard. He now leads the team with three sacks on the season, while totaling 10 tackles ... After not playing in any games last season, sophomore wide out Jon Smith (Matawan, N.J.) has eight receptions for 103 yards through three games this year ... Junior strong safety Tom Mannix currently ranks second on the team with 25 total tackles on the season, including 21 solo stops ... Sophomore tailback Reggie Woods (Bowie, Md.) leads the team in rushing with 142 yards on 37 carries through three games played ... In three of the last four years, the Holy Cross football team has received an NCAA Division I Academic Progress Rate Public Recognition Award, for posting multi-year APR scores in the top 10 percent of all football squads in the nation.