DURHAM, N.H. – New Hampshire quarterback Kevin Decker threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Justin Mello with 1:10 remaining in the fourth quarter, to break a 32-32 tie and lift the seventh-ranked Wildcats to a 39-32 victory over the Holy Cross football team at Cowell Stadium. The Crusaders fall to 2-2 on the season with the loss, while New Hampshire improves to 3-1 with the win.
Senior quarterback Ryan Taggart (Bedford, Texas) connected on 40 of 57 passes for a career-high 412 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to rushing 12 times for 55 yards and two scores. Taggart placed third on the Holy Cross single-game lists for both completions (40) and yards of total offense (467), while placing ninth for passing yards (412). Sophomore wide receiver Kyle Toulouse (Arlington, Va.) also had a big day with 13 catches for 110 yards, to tie for second on the school single-game list for receptions.
Sophomore wide receiver Mike Fess (Caldwell, N.J.) added 11 catches for 95 yards and a touchdown, while junior wide out Gerald Mistretta (Brooklyn, N.Y.) finished with six receptions for 136 yards and a score. On the defensive side of the ball, senior cornerback Chandler Fenner (Virginia Beach, Va.) led the team with 12 tackles and a forced fumble, while junior strong safety Tom Mannix (Kenilworth, N.J.) had 10 tackles, a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup.
Decker led the Wildcats by completing 23 of 31 passes for 352 yards and four touchdowns, while rushing for 36 yards on 14 carries.
New Hampshire opened the scoring on a 27-yard pass from Decker to Jimmy Giansante early in the first quarter, before a 33-yard field goal by sophomore placekicker John Macomber (Vienna, Va.) made the score 7-3. Holy Cross pulled in front early in the second quarter on a three-yard touchdown pass from Taggart to Fess, but the Wildcats came right back with a 31-yard scoring strike from Decker to Mickey Mangieri. Each team added a field goal late in the quarter, and the Wildcats led 18-13 at halftime.
In the third quarter, New Hampshire increased its lead to 25-13 on a five-yard touchdown pass from Decker to Joey Orlando. But the Crusaders refused to go away, as Taggart ran 10 yards for a touchdown and then threw a 35-yard scoring strike to Mistretta, tying the score at 25-25 early in the fourth quarter. The Wildcats pulled back in front on a one-yard touchdown run by Chris Setian, and would get the ball back with less than seven minutes to play up 32-25. Fenner then forced a fumble which was recovered by junior free safety Cav Koch (Dallas, Texas), giving Holy Cross possession at the New Hampshire 49-yard line. Eight plays later, Taggart ran 13 yards for a touchdown to tie the score at 32-32 with 2:30 to play. But the Wildcats came right back with the winning touchdown pass from Decker to Mello. The Crusaders drove back down to the New Hampshire 33-yard line in the closing seconds, but Taggart's pass into the end zone fell incomplete on the final play of the game.
Holy Cross returns to action next Saturday, Oct. 8, when it travels to Brown for a 12:30 p.m. game.