A Tough Slate
Holy Cross played the hardest schedule in the NCAA football championship subdivision this year, according to the final NCAA statistics from the regular season. The 11 teams which the Crusaders faced this year had a cumulative record of 64-42 (not including games against Holy Cross), good for a .604 winning percentage. The second-hardest schedule in the country belonged to North Dakota (.600 opponent winning percentage). Eight of Holy Cross' losses this year came against teams with winning records: New Hampshire (8-3), Brown (7-3), Dartmouth (6-4), Harvard (8-2), Colgate (8-3), Fordham (6-5), Lehigh (10-1) and Wagner (8-3).
Mistretta Makes Big Plays
Senior wide out Gerald Mistretta (Brooklyn, N.Y.) was one of the top weapons for this season, and earned second team All-Patriot League honors. Mistretta ranked second on the team with 54 receptions for 669 yards and eight scores in 11 games played. During the season finale at Georgetown, he caught five passes for 78 yards and two touchdowns, in addition to rushing twice for four yards and another score. Previously against Lehigh, Mistretta totaled eight receptions for 104 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a big day at Colgate, leading the team with seven catches for a career-high 162 yards and two scores. A few of Mistretta's other top games this season came against Wagner (five catches for 50 yards and a score), Fordham (five receptions for 59 yards and a touchdown, plus a catch for a two-point conversion), Brown (seven catches for 70 yards), New Hampshire (six receptions for 62 yards) and Bucknell (four catches for 39 yards). In 2011, he was named first team All-Patriot League after leading the team with 60 catches for 723 yards and six touchdowns. Over the course of his career with the Crusaders, Mistretta recorded 148 catches for 1,897 yards and 18 scores. He finished his collegiate career ranked third all-time at Holy Cross in touchdown catches, while standing fifth in both receptions and receiving yards.
A Jack Of All Trades
Senior Jack Maliska (Winchendon, Mass.) earned second team All-Patriot League honors as a defensive tackle during the 2011 season, and was expected to once again be a force for the Holy Cross defense this year. But due to a number of injuries along the offensive line, Maliska was needed by the Crusaders on both sides of the ball. In 11 games this season, he played 620 snaps as an offensive guard, 74 snaps as a defensive tackle and 47 snaps on special teams. Maliska started eight games on offense and four games on defense, including starts on both sides of the ball against Dartmouth, Harvard and Georgetown. He recorded four total tackles on defense, and was on the field for 20 of the team's 28 touchdown drives on offense. In 2011, Maliska totaled 35 tackles for the Crusaders, with 27 solo stops, two sacks and four tackles for loss. His top games in 2011 came against Dartmouth and Lehigh, recording five tackles and a sack in each contest. Over the course of his collegiate career, Maliska recorded 52 tackles, two sacks and six tackles for loss.
Macomber Steps Up In Kicking Game
Junior John Macomber (Vienna, Va.) earned second team All-Patriot League honors for the Crusaders this season, as both a placekicker and a punter. He ranked second on the team with 55 points scored this year, hitting 10 of 13 field goal attempts (including a long of 46 yards) and 25 of 26 extra points. Macomber also averaged 40.9 yards on 62 punts, with a long of 59 yards and 23 kicks downed inside the opponent's 20-yard line. In addition, he averaged 62.4 yards on 47 kickoffs with 21 touchbacks. Macomber led the team in scoring during the 2011 season with 56 points, hitting 12 of 15 field goals and 20 of 26 extra points. He also led the Patriot League in field goal percentage, while his 12 field goals made tied the school single-season record. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Macomber has now made 22 of 28 field goals and 45 of 52 extra points, for a total of 111 points scored. His 22 career field goals made currently rank sixth all-time at Holy Cross.
Crusaders In The Patriot League
Having just completed its 27th season of play in the Patriot League, Holy Cross owns an all-time record of 83-67 (.553) 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 10 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.
Fess Enjoys Fantastic Season
Junior wide receiver Mike Fess (Caldwell, N.J.) was one of the top players on the Holy Cross offense this season. He led the team with 80 catches for 795 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games played. Fess' 80 total receptions on the year were the second-most ever by a Crusader in a single season, behind only Ari Confesor's 90 catches in 2003. During the Wagner game, he led the team with six receptions for 101 yards. Previously against Lehigh, Fess caught 10 passes for 90 yards and a pair of touchdowns. He also played well against Fordham, posting eight receptions for a career-high 139 yards and two scores. A few of Fess' other top performances this season came against Georgetown (10 receptions for 60 yards), Lafayette (nine catches for 93 yards), Colgate (10 receptions for 100 yards) and New Hampshire (10 receptions for 85 yards). In 2011, he earned second team All-Patriot League honors after ranking second on the team with 45 receptions for 417 yards and two scores. Fess has now totaled 134 catches for 1,318 yards and six touchdowns during his collegiate career. He currently ranks 10th all-time at Holy Cross in career receptions.
Mannix Stands Out In Secondary
Senior strong safety Tom Mannix (Kenilworth, N.J.) was once again one of the top players in the Holy Cross secondary this season, and received second team All-Patriot League honors for the second year in a row. During the Fordham game, Mannix led the team with 12 solo tackles and two pass breakups. Previously at Lafayette, he posted a team-best 11 total tackles. A few of Mannix's other top performances this year came against Colgate (eight tackles and a pass breakup), Harvard (11 solo tackles, two pass breakups and a tackle for loss), Dartmouth (four tackles and an interception), Brown (14 solo tackles and an interception) and New Hampshire (five tackles and a pass breakup). On the season, he led the team with 88 total tackles and eight pass breakups, and tied for the team-lead with two interceptions. Mannix ranked second on the team with 87 total tackles in 2011, to go along with three forced fumbles, an interception, a fumble recovery and 10 pass breakups. During the 2011 game at Lehigh, he recorded a season-high 12 total tackles with a forced fumble. Over the course of his career with the Crusaders, Mannix totaled 226 tackles, four interceptions, four forced fumbles and 24 pass breakups. He finished his career ranked seventh all-time at Holy Cross in pass breakups.
Raymond Heads Up Return Game
Freshman wide receiver Kalif Raymond (Lawrenceville, Ga.) was the top kickoff and punt returner for the Crusaders during the 2012 season, and earned first team All-Patriot League honors. Raymond returned 32 kickoffs for 777 yards and a touchdown on the year (good for an average of 24.3 yards per return), in addition to bringing back 19 punts for 101 yards. During the game at Lafayette, he returned a kickoff 80 yards for his first career touchdown. Previously at Colgate, Raymond brought back eight kickoffs for 178 yards, to place third on the all-time Holy Cross single-game list for kickoff return yards. He also totaled a career-best 191 all-purpose yards at Harvard, to earn Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors. Raymond came to Holy Cross from the Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross, Ga., where he caught 30 passes for 511 yards and nine touchdowns during his high school career.
Schneider Shines At Tight End
Senior tight end Alex Schneider (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) was once again a key part of the Holy Cross passing game in 2012, receiving second team All-Patriot League honors. In 11 games played this season, Schneider ranked fourth on the team by catching 16 passes for 161 yards and two scores. During the Lehigh game, he made a season-high five receptions for 72 yards. Schneider previously totaled three receptions for 39 yards in the victory over Bucknell, while catching touchdown passes against both Lafayette and Brown. In 11 games played in 2011, he ranked sixth on the team in receiving with 15 catches for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Schneider previously earned first team All-Patriot League honors in 2010, when he stood fourth on the team with 30 receptions for 217 yards and a score. He was also named second team All-Patriot League in 2009, after ranking fourth on the team with 33 receptions for 275 yards, while his six touchdown catches were the second-most on the squad. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Schneider totaled 94 catches for 815 yards and 11 scores. His 11 career touchdown receptions were the most ever by a Crusader tight end.
Houghton Heads Up Ground Game
Senior tailback Eddie Houghton (Toronto, Ontario) was once again a key part of the Crusaders' offense this season. During the Wagner game, Houghton ran 23 times for a season-best 92 yards and a touchdown, in addition to catching two passes for 45 yards. Earlier in the season at Colgate, he carried the ball 13 times for 60 yards and a touchdown. A few of Houghton's other top performances this year came against Georgetown (20 carries for 65 yards, one reception for 16 yards), Dartmouth (16 carries for 55 yards and a score, one catch for five yards), Brown (62 rushing yards and a touchdown on 15 carries) and New Hampshire (seven carries for 48 yards, one reception for two yards). On the season, he rushed for a team-best 506 yards and four scores on 138 carries. In 2011, Houghton led the team and ranked fifth in the Patriot League in rushing with 506 yards and four touchdowns on 86 carries. His top game in 2011 came in the season finale at Fordham, when he carried the ball 15 times for a career-best 153 yards and two scores. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Houghton rushed 331 times for 1,595 yards and 14 touchdowns, while catching 28 passes for 220 yards.
Tradition Of Excellence
The 2012 campaign marked the 117th season of Holy Cross football. The Crusaders currently own an overall record of 607-486-54, good for a .553 winning percentage. Prior to the start of the 2012 season, Holy Cross' 605 all-time victories ranked as the 14th 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.
SanDoval Shines In Senior Year
Senior linebacker Roman SanDoval (Allison Park, Pa.) was one of the top players on the Holy Cross defense this season. During the Fordham game, he totaled 11 tackles with one pass breakup. Previously at Lafayette, SanDoval recorded nine tackles with a quarterback sack and a pass breakup. He also played well against Colgate (13 total tackles), Bucknell (five tackles and a quarterback sack), Dartmouth (career-high 14 total tackles, two tackles for loss and a sack) and New Hampshire (team-high 13 tackles with one tackle for loss). On the season, SanDoval totaled 75 tackles, including three sacks and five tackles for loss. In 2011, he recorded 15 tackles, one sack and two tackles for loss in the first three games, before missing the remainder of the season due to injury. Over the course of his collegiate career, SanDoval now has 130 total tackles, four sacks and eight tackles for loss.
The Quarterback Combo
Sophomore quarterbacks Steven Elder (San Antonio, Texas) and Ryan Laughlin (Glen Mills, Pa.) both turned in some strong performances for the Crusaders this season. During the Wagner game, Elder connected on 16 of 25 passes for 234 yards and a touchdown. Previously against Lehigh, Laughlin completed 17 of 27 attempts for 203 yards and two touchdowns, while Elder hit on 12 of 17 passes for 133 yards and two scores. In the Fordham contest, Laughlin connected on 18 of 28 attempts for 223 yards and three touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 36 yards and a score on four carries. Earlier in the season at Colgate, Elder completed 24 of 39 passes for 313 yards and two touchdowns. On the season, Elder led the team by hitting on 106 of 173 attempts for 1,281 yards and seven touchdowns. Laughlin completed 81 of 132 passes for 752 yards and six scores this year, while ranking third on the team in rushing with 144 yards and a touchdown on 42 carries. Neither Elder nor Laughlin had appeared in a collegiate varsity game before this season.
Acquah & Tucker Play Well Up Front
Junior defensive ends Gary Acquah (Bronx, N.Y.) and Mike Tucker (Chester Springs, Pa.) both played key roles along the Holy Cross defensive line this season. Acquah was named second team All-Patriot League for his play this year. He tied his career high with 10 tackles against New Hampshire, in addition to breaking up a pass and blocking an extra point. Acquah also made eight tackles at Lafayette and seven tackles at Harvard, and finished the season with 54 total tackles, two sacks and seven tackles for loss. In 2011, he led all Holy Cross defensive linemen with 40 total tackles, including two sacks and three tackles for loss. Over the course of his collegiate career, Acquah has now totaled 94 tackles, four sacks and 10 tackles for loss. Tucker totaled 28 tackles on the year, with a team-best nine tackles for loss, two sacks, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup. In 2011, he recorded 27 tackles and a pass breakup, while leading the team with nine sacks and earning second team All-Patriot League honors. Tucker posted a career-high three sacks at Bucknell in 2011, while making a career-best seven tackles with two sacks in the victory over Harvard. During his Holy Cross career, Tucker has now totaled 59 tackles, 11 sacks and 16 tackles for loss.
Whited Leads Offensive Line
Senior center Sean Whited (Canton, Ohio) was the top player along the Holy Cross offensive line this season, earning second team All-Patriot League honors for the second year in a row. Whited started all 11 games for the Crusaders at center, leading of an offensive line which paved the way for Holy Cross to average 21.2 points and 343.5 total yards per game. The line also allowed only 26 sacks this year while the team attempted 392 passes. Over the course of his collegiate career, Whited played in 34 career games with 30 starts, including 25 consecutive starts at center to end his career.
Head Coach Tom Gilmore
A two-time Patriot League Coach of the Year (in 2006 and 2009), Tom Gilmore just concluded his ninth season as the head football coach at Holy Cross in 2012. He has guided the Crusaders to an overall record of 53-47 during his time at Holy Cross, including a 50-39 mark since the beginning of the 2005 campaign. In 2009, Gilmore led the Crusaders to an overall record of 9-3, the Patriot League championship and a trip to the NCAA playoffs. A finalist for the 2009 Eddie Robinson Award, Gilmore led the Crusaders to winning records in seven straight seasons from 2005-2011, 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 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.
Defending The Home Turf
Holy Cross has enjoyed great success at Fitton Field over the years, but went just 1-5 at home in 2012. The Crusaders, who played their first game at Fitton Field in 1903, have posted an all-time home mark of 368-174-27 (.670). 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 2011 campaign with a winning record at home for the sixth 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).
Crusaders Bring In Academic Honors
Two Holy Cross players have been honored this season for their performances both in the classroom and on the football field. Senior strong safety Tom Mannix was selected as a semifinalist for the 2012 William V. Campbell Trophy, presented by the National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame to the top scholar-athlete in the nation. Mannix and sophomore cornerback Sam Jones (Canal Winchester, Ohio) were also both named to the Capital One / CoSIDA Academic All-District first team.
Wachter Catches Fire
Senior linebacker Erik Wachter (Whitehouse Station, N.J.) emerged as one of the top players on the Holy Cross defense over the last few weeks of the 2012 season. In the victory over Georgetown, Wachter posted a team-leading 15 tackles with one quarterback sack. Previously at Wagner, he led the team with a career-high 20 total tackles, to go along with a forced fumble, a fumble recovery and a tackle for loss. Wachter's 20 total tackles against the Seahawks were the most by a Holy Cross player in a single game since Dan Adams had 21 tackles against Colgate on Oct. 22, 2005. Earlier in the year against Lehigh, he made a team-high 10 tackles with one pass breakup. On the season, Wachter tied for second on the team with 75 tackles, in addition to recording two sacks, four tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and three pass breakups. Over the course of his collegiate career, he has totaled 91 tackles, four tackles for loss and five pass breakups.
Crusaders Among League Leaders
Five Holy Cross players ranked at or near the top of the Patriot League standings in a number of statistical categories, at the end of the regular season. Junior wide out Mike Fess led the conference in receptions (7.3 catches/game), while standing fourth in receiving yards (72.3 yards/game). Junior placekicker John Macomber ranked second in the league in punting (40.9 yards/punt) and stood third in field goals (0.9 made/game). In addition freshman wide receiver Kalif Raymond led the conference in kickoff returns (24.3 yards/return), senior wide out Gerald Mistretta ranked fifth in receptions (4.9 catches/game) and sophomore quarterback Ryan Laughlin stood fifth in pass efficiency (122.7 rating). As a team, Holy Cross led the league in kickoff returns (22.5 yards/return) and ranked second in net punting (36.1 yards/punt).
Holy Cross In The NCAA Statistics
Five Crusaders were ranked among the NCAA leaders in various statistical categories, through games of Nov. 17. As a team, Holy Cross led in the nation in fewest penalties, while ranking third in fewest penalty yards and 26th in kickoff returns. The rankings:
|Category||Rank||Player / Team||Avg. / Pct.|
|Fewest Penalties||1||Holy Cross||3.8|
|Fewest Penalty Yards||3||Holy Cross||35.1|
|Solo Tackles||10||Roman SanDoval||6.9|
|Kickoff Returns||26||Holy Cross||22.5|
|Field Goals||41||John Macomber||0.9|
|Receiving Yards||44||Mike Fess||72.3|
|Passes Defended||46||Tom Mannix||0.9|
Football Legends Ring Of Honor Inducts Third Class
The athletic department at the College of the Holy Cross honored three former football standouts on Aug. 30, as the third class of the Crusader Football Legends Ring of Honor. Ronnie Cahill (Class of 1940), Pat McCarthy (Class of 1963) and Jeff Wiley (Class of 1989) were all honored in a ceremony prior to the New Hampshire 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. Individuals who had previously been inducted into the Crusader Football Legends Ring of Honor include George Connor (Class of ex1946), Gill Fenerty (Class of 1986), Bruce Kozerski (Class of 1984), Gordie Lockbaum (Class of 1988), Jon Morris (Class of 1964), Edmund Murphy (Class of 1943), Bill Osmanski (Class of 1939), Vince Promuto (Class of 1960), John Provost (Class of 1975) and Joe Wilson (Class of 1973).
Holy Cross had 21 seniors who took part in their final collegiate game on Nov. 17 at Georgetown. The members of the Holy Cross senior class were tight end Reed Apfelbaum (Upper St. Clair, Pa.), tailback Sam Auffant (Hampton, N.H.), tailback Matt Bellomo (Holliston, Mass.), offensive lineman Casey Bessemer (Jacksonville Beach, Fla.), tight end Josh Hauser (Dallas, Texas), linebacker David Herman (Cincinnati, Ohio), offensive lineman Fred Hilow (Lakewood, Ohio), tailback Eddie Houghton, placekicker Patrick Jarvis (Hopkinton, Mass.), offensive lineman Billy Lang (Millersville, Md.), offensive and defensive lineman Jack Maliska, strong safety Tom Mannix, linebacker Nick Mercurio (Wading River, N.Y.), wide receiver Gerald Mistretta, linebacker Pat O'Connell (Framingham, Mass.), offensive lineman Kyle Pedretty (Dunedin, Fla.), linebacker Roman SanDoval, tight end Alex Schneider, linebacker Erik Wachter, quarterback Kevin Watson (Belle Mead, N.J.) and center Sean Whited (Canton, Ohio). These 21 players were recognized prior to the start of the Lehigh game on Nov. 3, along with team manager Kevin Callahan (Fairfield, Conn.). The Crusader seniors led the team to a 23-22 record over the last four seasons, including the 2009 Patriot League championship and a trip to the 2009 NCAA playoffs.
Mannix, Mistretta, SanDoval & Whited Named Team Captains
Holy Cross had four captains during the 2012 football season. Senior strong safety Tom Mannix, senior wide receiver Gerald Mistretta, senior linebacker Roman SanDoval and senior center Sean Whited were named the team's captains by head coach Tom Gilmore following the conclusion of spring practice. These four players took over the leadership role from Mike McCabe, Ricky Otis and Mark Tolzien, who served as the Crusaders' captains during the 2011 season.
Crusaders On The Radio
All of Holy Cross' games in 2012 aired on WTAG 580 AM and 94.9 FM in Worcester. Holy Cross Hall of Famer Bob Fouracre was 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, Gordie Lockbaum and John O'Neill served as color commentators for selected games this season. All of the Crusaders' games were also available free of charge through Stretch Internet. In addition, WCHC 88.1 FM, the Holy Cross student station, carried a number of games this year.
Holy Cross On Television
The Crusaders had three games shown on live television during the 2012 season. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule from the 2012 campaign:
Sept. 22 vs. Dartmouth: Charter TV3
Oct. 20 at Lafayette: Lafayette Sports Network
Oct. 27 vs. Fordham: Charter TV3
Live video streaming of all 2012 Holy Cross regular season home football games was available over the internet through Crusader Vision. The package, done in association with Stretch Internet, was available for $8.95 per game. Season packages were also available for football only ($45.95) or all Holy Cross sports ($99.95). For more details on Crusader Vision, click here.
The Holy Cross Football Show
Every Tuesday during the season, head coach Tom Gilmore was joined by Bob Fouracre for the Holy Cross Football Show. The show aired live from 11:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m. exclusively on the internet, with archives of all the shows available to those who could not watch live. The show is carried through Crusader Vision at a cost of $1.95 per week, and is also included in season packages for the show only ($14.95), football only ($45.95) or all Holy Cross sports ($99.95). To view to the archives of the Holy Cross Football Show, click here.
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For the final four games of the 2012 season, the Crusaders wore a No. 43 helmet decal in remembrance of Sacramento State defensive end John Bloomfield, who passed away on Oct. 21 ... During the Oct. 27 game against Fordham, the Crusaders wore pink shoelaces as part of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month ... Junior wide receiver Kyle Toulouse (Arlington, Va.) ranked third on the team with 276 catches for 244 yards this season. He has now caught 75 passes for 799 yards and three touchdowns during his Holy Cross career ... Sophomore wide out Jereme Murray (State College, Pa.) had a career-best four receptions for 74 yards during the Fordham game. He totaled 12 catches for 141 yards on the season ... Prior to the Sept. 22 contest against Dartmouth, Holy Cross honored members of its 1987 team on the 25th anniversary of their perfect 11-0 season ... The season opener against New Hampshire on Aug. 30 marked the earliest in the year that the Crusaders had ever played a regular season game. Prior to this year, Holy Cross' earliest ever start to the season came on Sept. 1 (in both 2007 and 2011) ... The Crusaders were picked to finish in second place in the 2012 Patriot League preseason poll of head coaches and sports information directors, behind only Lehigh ... The 2012 campaign marked the first time Holy Cross finished the season with a losing record since going 3-8 in 2004 ... Four Holy Cross players were fifth-year seniors in 2012: tailback Matt Bellomo, tight end Alex Schneider, quarterback Kevin Watson and center Sean Whited.