Holy Cross Set For 2008 Season Opener Against #4 UMass

Sept. 1, 2008

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (0-0, 0-0 PL) vs. #4 Massachusetts (1-0, 0-0 CAA)
Date: September 6, 2008
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Fitton Field (23,500), Worcester, Mass.
Television: WCTR TV-3, Worcester; Kevin Shea, play-by-play; Andy Lacombe, color
Live Video Streaming: Crusader All-Access
Holy Cross Radio: WWFX 100.1 FM, Worcester; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Tom Kelleher, color; www.worcesterpike.com, internet
UMass Radio Network: WRNX 100.9 FM, Holyoke, flagship; Josh Maurer, play-by-play; Matt Goldstein, color
Series Record: Tied, 21-21-5
Last Meeting: Massachusetts 40, Holy Cross 30, September 1, 2007, Amherst, Mass.

The Series With Massachusetts
This will be the 48th meeting between the Crusaders and the Minutemen on the gridiron, with the all-time series tied at 21-21-5. Massachusetts has won the last six games in the series, including last year's 40-30 victory in Amherst. For games played in Worcester, the Crusaders own an 14-12-5 advantage in the series, but the Minutemen have won the last three meetings. The last win for Holy Cross in the series came on Sept. 14, 1991, when it posted a 22-20 victory at McGuirk Alumni Stadium. The schools first met on Sept. 25, 1897 in Amherst, with Holy Cross posting a 4-0 victory.

Series Quick Facts
Overall: Tied, 21-21-5
In Worcester: Holy Cross leads, 14-12-5
At Fitton Field: Holy Cross leads, 12-11-4
Current Win Streak: UMass, six games
Tom Gilmore vs. UMass: 0-1
Don Brown vs. Holy Cross: 1-0

For Openers
Holy Cross will start its 113th season of intercollegiate football with the UMass game. The Crusaders have always been excellent on opening day, posting a record of 66-37-9 in their season debuts. Even with the 40-30 loss at UMass in the 2007 opener, and Holy Cross stands 5-3 on opening day during the current decade. Since the beginning of the 1980 season, Holy Cross owns an 18-9-1 mark in its opener. The Crusaders also have an all-time record of 76-28-7 in their opening home game of the season. Holy Cross has a 7-4 record in home openers over the last 11 years, including last season's win over Harvard.

Randolph Leads Crusader Offense
Senior quarterback Dominic Randolph (Amelia, Ohio) returns for his third season as Holy Cross' starting quarterback, after being one of 16 finalists for the 2007 Walter Payton Award, presented annually to the top player in the NCAA football championship subdivision. In 11 games played last year, Randolph completed 297 of 482 attempts for 3,604 yards and 30 touchdowns with just eight interceptions. He set new school single-season records for completions, pass attempts and total offense (3,741 yards), while ranking second on the Holy Cross single-season lists for passing yards and touchdown passes, third for completion percentage (61.6 percent) and fourth for pass efficiency (141.6 rating). Over the course of his collegiate career, Randolph has now hit on 481 of 781 passes for 5,841 yards and 49 scores. He already ranks fourth all-time at Holy Cross in career touchdown passes, fourth in career passing yards, fifth in career completions and fifth in career pass attempts, while his career completion percentage (.616) is the best in school history. In addition, Randolph's 10 career 300-yard passing games are the third most in Holy Cross history, while his two 400-yard passing games are tied for the most-ever by a Crusader.

Offensive Line Returns Four Starters
Holy Cross returns four starters to an offensive line which was a key reason why the Crusaders ranked among the top teams in the nation in both total offense and scoring last season. The line paved the way for Holy Cross to run for 128.2 yards per game in 2007, while also providing pass protection which has allowed the Crusaders to throw for 335.2 yards per contest. In addition, Holy Cross allowed only 14 sacks in 11 games last year, while attempting 497 passes (just one sack for every 36.5 times the team dropped back to pass). Returning starters for the Crusaders include senior Chris Smith (Buffalo, N.Y.) at center, senior Chris Poole (Scituate, Mass.) and junior Aaron Jones (Springfield, Ohio) at the guard spots, and senior Mason Olson (Stockton, Calif.) at one tackle position. Each of those four returnees started all 11 games last season. The final tackle spot will be manned by sophomore Mike McCabe (Watertown, Conn.), who saw action in all 11 games as a backup in 2007.

Johnny Turco Memorial Trophy On The Line This Week
The Johnny Turco Memorial Trophy has been presented annually to the most outstanding player in Holy Cross' Homecoming game since 1965. It is given in memory of Johnny Turco (Class of 1952), a former star halfback and a member of the Holy Cross Varsity Club Hall of Fame. There has only been one player who has won the honor two times in his career (Joe Segreti, in 1988 and 1990). Last season, Crusader quarterback Dominic Randolph won the Turco Memorial Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the Homecoming game. Randolph completed 29 of 55 passes for 339 yards and four touchdowns in the 31-28 victory over Harvard, including a 40-yard scoring pass with 19 seconds remaining to win the game.

Holy Cross In Homecoming Games
The Crusaders have posted an all-time record of 30-28-1 in Homecoming games, including three straight victories against Harvard (31-28 in 2007), Fordham (28-21 in 2006) and Georgetown (48-6 in 2005). Holy Cross previously won 11 straight games on Homecoming Weekend from 1982-1992, before suffering through a 12-year stretch from 1993-2004 during which it went just 2-10. Prior to the 2005 victory, the Crusaders had dropped three straight contests on Homecoming Weekend. This year's game will mark only the second time the Crusaders have faced Massachusetts in their Homecoming game. In the only previous Homecoming meeting between the schools, the Minutemen won 32-0 in 1994.

Seniors Look To Lead Receivers
Despite the graduation of two of its top receivers from a year ago, Holy Cross looks to once again have a number of outstanding weapons in the passing game. Senior wide out Brett McDermott (Mansfield, Mass.) is the top returning receiver on the squad, after posting 56 catches for 727 yards and five scores in 2007. Senior wide receiver Jon Brock (Acworth, Ga.) was also very productive last year, totaling 45 receptions for 537 yards and two touchdowns. Those two will be joined by senior tight end Ryan McGuire (Woburn, Mass.), who earned first team All-Patriot League honors in 2007, while catching 12 passes for 113 yards and a touchdown.

Gass & Kielt Head Up Ground Game
The Crusader offense displayed a solid rushing attack in 2008, running for 128.2 yards per game with 19 rushing touchdowns. Returning to lead the way for Holy Cross in 2008 is senior tailback Terrance Gass (Sicklerville, N.J.), who led the team in rushing with 563 yards and six touchdowns on 101 carries last season, in addition to catching 27 passes for 318 yards and four scores. Following the conclusion of the 2007 campaign, Gass was named second team All-Patriot League. Senior tailback Mike Kielt (Southbury, Conn.) is also back for the Crusaders, after rushing for 367 yards and six scores on 73 carries in 2007, to go along with 16 receptions for 150 yards. Entering the 2008 season, Gass and Kielt have combined for 2,035 rushing yards and 31 total touchdowns during their collegiate careers.

The Last Meeting With The Minutemen
Dominic Randolph threw for two touchdown passes and set a school record with 62 passing attempts, but it was not enough as Holy Cross fell to No. 3 UMass 40-30 at Warren McGuirk Alumni Stadium on Sept. 1, 2007. Randolph completed 32 passes and threw for 296 yards, in addition to rushing for a touchdown. UMass started off the scoring with a 48-yard field goal by Chris Koepplin, then extended its lead to 10-0 when Matt Lawrence scored on a one-yard run. The Crusaders answered back early in the second quarter, when Terrance Gass scored on a two-yard run. But Courtney Robinson returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, then Liam Coen threw a six-yard scoring pass to Joe Sanford to make the score 23-7. The Crusaders would record a safety following a bad snap on a punt attempt, before the Minutemen concluded the first half scoring when Lawrence scored on a 28-yard run to take a 30-9 lead into the locker room. UMass made the score 37-9 early in the third quarter on a 28-yard touchdown pass from Coen to J.J. Moore, before the Crusader offense came to life. Randolph would score on a one-yard run and throw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Justin Maher to make the score 37-23 at the end of the third quarter. Randolph then connected with Thomas Harrison for a four-yard score to cut the lead to seven points, but Holy Cross was unable to move the ball on its next possession. UMass added a late field goal to conclude the scoring.

Partain Gets His Kicks
Senior placekicker Matt Partain (Libertyville, Ill.) returns to the Holy Cross line-up, after earning first team All-Patriot League honors in 2007. Last season, he hit 12 of 16 field goal attempts and connected on all 50 of his extra point tries, to lead the team in scoring with 86 points. Partain tied the school single season record for most field goals made, while becoming the first kicker in Holy Cross history to make all of his extra points with at least 30 attempts. In the 2007 game against Dartmouth, he kicked the longest field goal in school history when he booted a 49-yarder on the final play of the first half. Partain also made eight extra points in the 2007 victory at Lehigh, good for the second-most made extra points in school history. In addition, Partain's current streak of 50 straight extra points made is the second-longest in school history. Prior to the 2007 season, Partain had not attempted any field goals or extra points during his collegiate career, although he did handle kickoff duties for Holy Cross in both 2005 and 2006.

Holy Cross Picked Second In Patriot League Preseason Poll
The 2008 Crusaders have been picked to finish in second place in a preseason poll of the Patriot League's head coaches and sports information directors. In addition, Holy Cross senior quarterback Dominic Randolph was named the preseason Offensive Player of the Year, and linebacker Andy Romans of Lafayette was chosen as the preseason Defensive Player of the Year.

 

Rank  School (1st place votes)   2007 Record  Points
  1.  Fordham (9)               8-4 / 5-1 PL      68
  2.  Holy Cross (4)            7-4 / 4-2 PL      56
  3.  Colgate (1)               7-4 / 4-2 PL      53
  4.  Lafayette                 7-4 / 4-2 PL      48
  5.  Lehigh                    5-6 / 2-4 PL      35
  6.  Bucknell                  3-8 / 1-5 PL      18
  7.  Georgetown               1-10 / 1-5 PL      16

Crusaders Look To Keep Winning The Turnover Battle
If the last three seasons bear any indication, Holy Cross should once again be among the top teams in the nation when it comes to turnover margin. Since the beginning of the 2005 campaign, the Crusaders are plus-26 in turnovers, forcing their opponents to cough up the ball 68 times, while giving the ball away only 42 times. During both the 2005 and 2007 seasons, Holy Cross led the Patriot League in turnover margin with a plus-11 mark in each campaign. The Crusaders also ranked seventh in the nation in turnover margin in 2005, while placing 17th in the country in 2007. In addition, Holy Cross had a streak of 297 consecutive offensive plays without a turnover last season from Sept. 29, 2007 to Oct. 27, 2007 (spanning five games).

Holy Cross Set To Open Another Year In The Patriot League
Holy Cross will begin its 23rd season of play in the Patriot League when it faces Georgetown on Sept. 27. The Crusaders own an all-time mark of 14-8 in their opening Patriot League contest of the season, including last year's 55-0 victory over the Hoyas. Holy Cross also stands 8-2 in conference openers over the last 10 seasons, with the only losses during that span coming against Lehigh (38-20 in 2003) and Fordham (42-35 in 2004). From 1998 through 2002, the Crusaders won five straight conference openers, against Towson twice (31-24 in 1998; 17-14 in 2000), Georgetown twice (33-7 in 2001; 41-13 in 2002) and Lafayette once (30-12 in 1999). Holy Cross owns an all-time record of 64-57 (.522) in Patriot League action, winning five titles (1986, 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991).

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 349-165-27 (.670). 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 21-23 at home, with a 4-2 mark in 2007. Last season, Holy Cross posted a winning record at home for the second straight year, after going 3-2 at Fitton Field in 2006.

Brown & Randolph Named Captains
Holy Cross will have two captains during the 2008 football season. Senior strong safety Daryl Brown (Stone Mountain, Ga.) and senior quarterback Dominic Randolph were named the team's captains by head coach Tom Gilmore following the conclusion of spring practice. Randolph, who was also one of three captains during the 2007 campaign, becomes only the 11th player in school history to serve as a team captain for more than one season. Previous two-year captains were George Connor (1905-1906), Raymond Lynch (1916-1917), Thomas Lamb (1969-1970), Craig Cerratani (1977-1978), Ed Kutschke (1985-1986), John Aloisi (1998-1999), David Puloka (1999-2000), Brian Hall (2001-2002), Steve Silva (2004-2005) and Casey Gough (2006-2007).

Crusaders Look To Post Another Winning Season
In 2008, the Crusaders are looking to post a winning record for the fourth straight year. Last season, Holy Cross reached the seven win-mark for the second year in a row. The Crusaders' 14-8 mark in 2006 and 2007 combined is also their best in a two-year span since the 1991 and 1992 squads went a combined 17-5. In addition, Holy Cross has also posted a winning record in each of the last three seasons, going 6-5 in 2005, 7-4 in 2006 and 7-4 in 2007. This marks the best three-year stretch by the Crusaders in 15 years (9-1-1 in 1990, 11-0 in 1991 and 6-5 in 1992).

Crusaders Bring In Preseason Honors
Several Holy Cross players have earned preseason accolades heading into the 2008 campaign. Senior quarterback Dominic Randolph was listed as the No. 3 quarterback in the country by The Sports Network, while being named a second team All-American by both The Sports Network and Consensus Draft Services, and receiving preseason Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year honors from Phil Steele's 2008 College Football Preview. In addition, several players were selected preseason All-Patriot League by Phil Steele's 2008 College Football Preview. Randolph was joined on the first team by senior wide receiver Brett McDermott, senior tight end Ryan McGuire, senior defensive back Kyle Mushaweh (Woodbury, Conn.), senior placekicker Matt Partain, senior offensive lineman Chris Poole and senior defensive lineman Bryan Walwyn (Houston, Texas), while senior wide receiver Jon Brock, senior tailback Terrance Gass and junior linebacker Marcus Rodriguez (Peoria, Ariz.) were all selected to the second team.

Crusaders Among Patriot League Leaders
Several 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 2007 season. Quarterback Dominic Randolph led the league in passing yards (327.6 yards/game), total offense (340.1 yards/game) and pass efficiency (141.6 rating). Wide out Ryan Maher led in the league in receptions (6.8 catches/game) and receiving yards (82.5 yards/game), while standing third in scoring (6.0 points/game). Wide receiver Thomas Harrison ranked third in the conference in both receiving yards (72.3 yards/game) and receptions (5.1 catches/game), while wide receiver Brett McDermott was third in the conference receptions (5.1 catches/game) and fourth in receiving yards (66.1 yards/game). In addition, placekicker Matt Partain ranked first in extra points (100.0 percent), first in field goals (1.1 made/game) and second in scoring (7.8 points/game); cornerback Casey Gough stood first in interceptions (0.4 picks/game) and second in kickoff returns (24.8 yards/return); cornerback Kyle Mushaweh was first in interceptions (0.3 picks/game); tailback Terrance Gass ranked fourth in both rushing (51.2 yards/game) and scoring (5.5 points/game); wide out Josh Jenkins (Maywood, Ill.) was fourth in punt returns (8.0 yards/return); and wide receiver Jon Brock stood fifth in receptions (4.1 catches/game). As a team, Holy Cross led the league in total offense (463.4 yards/game), scoring offense (35.9 points/game), passing offense (335.2 yards/game), turnover margin (+1.0 turnovers/game) and pass efficiency (140.0 rating); while standing second in pass defense (183.8 yards/game) and pass efficiency defense (117.0 rating); and ranking third in kickoff returns (21.4 yards/return).

Holy Cross In The NCAA Statistics
Eight Crusaders ranked among the NCAA Division I-AA leaders in various statistical categories, at the end of the 2007 season. As a team, Holy Cross stood third in passing yards, fourth in total offense and 13th in scoring. The rankings:

 

Category              Rank  Player/Team         Avg.
Total Offense            2  
Dominic Randolph   340.1
                         4  Holy Cross         463.4
Passing Yards            2  
Dominic Randolph   327.6
                         3  Holy Cross         335.2
Completions              2  
Dominic Randolph    27.0
Points Responsible For   5  
Dominic Randolph    18.6
Fewest Penalty Yards     6  Holy Cross          36.6
Fewest Penalties         9  Holy Cross           4.7
Receptions              11  
Ryan Maher           6.8
                        45  
Thomas Harrison      5.1
                        45  
Brett McDermott      5.1
Scoring                 13  Holy Cross          35.9
                        36  
Matt Partain         7.8
Turnover Margin         17  Holy Cross          +1.0
Third Down Conversions  18  Holy Cross          44.4
Pass Efficiency         21  
Dominic Randolph   141.6
                        22  Holy Cross         140.0
Receiving Yards         22  
Ryan Maher          82.5
                        37  
Thomas Harrison     72.3
Interceptions           29  
Casey Gough          0.4
                        29  
Kyle Mushaweh        0.4
Pass Defense            29  Holy Cross         183.8
Field Goals             32  
Matt Partain         1.1
Kickoff Returns         33  
Casey Gough         24.8
Punt Returns            47  
Josh Jenkins         8.0

Offense Puts Up Points
Holy Cross enjoyed one of the best offensive seasons in recent history during the 2007 campaign. In 11 games played, the Crusaders averaged 35.9 points and 463.4 yards per game. The 35.9 points per game are the best mark since the 1989 squad averaged 36.0 points per contest, while the 463.4 yards are the school's best since the 1991 team averaged 467.1 yards per contest. Holy Cross also scored over 40 points five times last year, including four consecutive games from October 6-27. Prior to that, the Crusaders had not scored 40 points in four straight contests since the 1991 season, when they did it against Brown (42-28), Lehigh (43-42), Lafayette (48-14) and Bucknell (42-6). The school record for most consecutive 40 points games is nine, set in 1987.

Tradition Of Excellence
The 2008 campaign will mark the 113th season of Holy Cross football. The Crusaders will enter the year with an overall record of 576-462-54, good for a .552 winning percentage. Prior to the start of the 2007 season, Holy Cross' 569 all-time victories ranked as the 15th 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.

Head Coach Tom Gilmore
Tom Gilmore is entering his fifth season as head coach at the College of the Holy Cross. Gilmore currently owns an overall record of 23-21, including a 20-13 mark since the beginning of the 2005 campaign. He has led Holy Cross to 7-4 records in each of the last two years, with the 2006 team posting a five-game winning streak (the longest by the Crusaders since the 1991 season). In 2005, Gilmore guided Holy Cross to an overall record of 6-5, with tailback Steve Silva earning first team All-America honors. On Oct. 8, 2005, Gilmore led the Crusaders to their first victory over a ranked team since 2000, with a 13-10 win at No. 10 Lehigh. 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.

Scouting The Minutemen
Massachusetts currently stands 1-0 on the year, and is ranked fourth in the nation by the Sports Network. Last week, the Minutemen opened the season with a 28-16 victory over Albany. Senior quarterback Liam Coen completed 10 of 20 passes against the Great Danes for 92 yards and three touchdowns, in addition to rushing for 20 yards on three attempts. Junior tailback Tony Nelson led the UMass ground game with 171 yards and a score on 20 carries, junior wide out Jeremy Horne had a team-best four receptions for 37 yards and a touchdown. On defense, the Minutemen were led by junior linebacker Josh Jennings with 13 total tackles and an interception. UMass is led by head coach Don Brown, who owns a 37-14 mark in five seasons with the Minutemen. Brown's career record stands at 89-40, including four years at Northeastern and three seasons at Plymouth State.

Crusaders On The Radio
All of Holy Cross' games in 2008 will air on The Pike, WWFX 100.1 FM in Worcester. Holy Cross Hall of Famer Bob Fouracre is in his 39th season calling the play-by-play for Holy Cross football, and his 23rd 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 ninth year as the color commentator. All of the Crusaders' games will also be available free of charge over the internet at `www.worcesterpike.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 are scheduled to have four games shown on live television during the 2008 season. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule for the 2008 campaign:

 

Date     Opponent        Television Outlet
Sept. 6  Massachusetts   WCTR-TV3
Oct. 25  Lehigh          WCTR-TV3
Nov. 15  Lafayette       Lafayette Sports Network
Nov. 22  Colgate         Time Warner Cable

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'.

Crusader All-Access
Live video streaming of all 2008 Holy Cross home football games will be available over the internet through Crusader All-Access.The package, done in association with College Sports Television Online, is available for a $9.95 monthly subscription. For details on how to sign up for Crusader All-Access, click here.

Quick Hits
This weekend, Holy Cross is holding reunions for its 1978 and 1983 teams ... The Crusaders are facing a team from the Colonial Athletic Association (formerly the Atlantic 10 Conference) for the fourth straight season. Against current CAA members, the Crusaders' all-time record stands at 63-45-6 (2-1 against Delaware, 0-1 vs. Hofstra, 5-0-1 against Maine, 21-21-5 vs. Massachusetts, 6-5 against New Hampshire, 4-1 vs. Northeastern, 9-1 against Rhode Island, 1-0 vs. Richmond, 4-3 against Towson, 9-12 vs. Villanova and 2-0 against William & Mary) ... For only the second time since joining the Patriot League in 1986, Holy Cross is scheduled to play all of its non-conference games against opponents from New England (Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, Massachusetts and Yale).