September 12, 2005

Crusaders Put 2-0 Record On The Line Against Harvard

Sept. 12, 2005

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (2-0, 1-0 PL) vs. Harvard (0-0, 0-0 Ivy)
Date: September 17, 2005
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Fitton Field (23,500), Worcester, Mass.
Television: None
Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Tom Kelleher, color; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Holy Cross Student Radio: WCHC 88.1 FM, Worcester
Harvard Radio: WWZN 1510 AM, Boston; Bernie Corbett, play-by-play; Mike Giardi, color
Series Record: Harvard leads, 35-21-2
Last Meeting: Harvard 35, Holy Cross 0, September 18, 2004, Cambridge, Mass.

The Series With Harvard
This will be the 59th meeting between the Crusaders and the Crimson on the gridiron, with Harvard leading the all-time series 35-21-2. Harvard has won the last three meetings and seven of the last eight, with the only Holy Cross victory during that time coming on Sept. 16, 2000, in Cambridge (27-25). For all games played at Fitton Field, the Crimson holds a 6-4 lead in the series, with four straight wins. The last time the Crusaders defeated Harvard in Worcester came during the 1992 season, when Holy Cross won by a score of 30-7.

Series Quick Facts
Overall: Harvard leads, 35-21-2
At Worcester: Harvard leads, 6-4
At Fitton Field: Harvard leads, 6-4
Current Win Streak: Harvard, three games
Tom Gilmore vs. Harvard: 0-1
Tim Murphy vs. Holy Cross: 8-2
In Overtime: Harvard leads, 1-0

Crusaders Looking For 3-0 Start To 2005 Campaign
If Holy Cross can post a victory over Harvard this week, it would give the Crusaders a 3-0 start to the 2005 season. The last time the Crusaders began the year with three straight victories came in 2000, when Holy Cross defeated Georgetown (38-22), Harvard (27-25) and Towson (17-14) to open the season. The 2000 campaign also marks the last time the Crusaders finished the year with a winning record. All told, Holy Cross has opened a season with three consecutive wins 30 times in its first 109 years of football. In 28 of those seasons, the Crusaders have finished the year with a winning record. The only times Holy Cross started the year 3-0 and did not post a winning record came in 1953 (5-5) and 1973 (5-6).

Offense Looking Impressive During 2005 Season
The Crusader offense has been nearly unstoppable in the first two games of the 2005 season. So far this year, Holy Cross has averaged 52.0 points, 26.0 first downs and 428.5 yards of total offense per contest. The Crusaders have been particularly effective in the first half of games, as they have scored touchdowns on 11 of their 14 first half possessions so far this season. Holy Cross has also avoided turnovers so far in 2005, as the Crusaders have not given the ball away yet this season. In 61 passing attempts so far this year, Holy Cross has not thrown an interception, while in 89 rushing attempts the only fumble (a bad snap on a punt) was picked back up by the Crusaders. In addition, Holy Cross' 104 points scored over the first two weeks of the year are its most in back-to-back games since the 2001 season (49-17 win over Dartmouth and 63-53 victory over Lafayette).

Defense Stepping Up In 2005
The Holy Cross defense is much improved this season, as shown by its performances in the first two games of the year. Last week against Georgetown, the Crusaders held the Hoyas to only 268 yards of total offense and six points. Holy Cross was particularly impressive in the first half, when it held Georgetown to just 21 yards, two first downs and no points, with the Hoyas longest drive going for only nine yards. The Crusaders also played well in the season opener against Sacred Heart, as the Pioneers were held to 349 yards and 21 points. Overall this year, Holy Cross opponents are averaging just 308.5 yards, 13.5 points and 16.0 first downs per contest. In addition, the Crusaders have forced a total of six turnovers on the season, with three interceptions and three fumble recoveries. Last year, Holy Cross allowed its opponents to average 33.4 points and 412.0 yards per game, while forcing only 17 turnovers on the season.

O'Neil Leading Aerial Attack
Senior quarterback John O'Neil (White Plains, N.Y.) is now in his third year as the starting signal caller for Holy Cross. In two games so far this year, he has completed 33 of 47 attempts for 380 yards and four touchdowns, in addition to catching two touchdown passes. Last season, O'Neil completed 193 of 356 attempts for 2,022 yards and 18 touchdowns. He finished 2004 ranked third in the Patriot League in both passing yards and total offense, while placing fifth on the Holy Cross single season list for passing attempts and ninth for passing yards. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, O'Neil has now completed 442 of 778 passes for 4,976 yards and 41 touchdowns. He needs 24 yards this week to become the fourth player in school history to throw for 5,000 career yards. O'Neil is currently ranked fourth all-time at Holy Cross in career completions, attempts, passing yards, passing touchdowns and completion percentage (56.8), and fifth in yards of total offense (5,339).

Silva Shines In Senior Season
Senior tailback Steve Silva (East Providence, R.I.) turned in another outstanding performance against Georgetown last week, and received the Johnny Turco Memorial Award as the Most Valuable Player of Holy Cross' Homecoming Game. He rushed 20 times for 110 yards and a touchdown against the Hoyas, in addition to catching eight passes for 61 yards and returning three punts for 49 yards. That performance marked the third straight season Silva has rushed for over 100 yards against Georgetown, as he previously ran for 147 yards on 29 carries in 2003, and had 21 rushes for 103 yards last year. Silva also had a big game in the season opener against Sacred Heart, and he was named the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week following that contest. Silva accounted for 179 total yards against the Pioneers, while having a hand in six of the Crusaders' eight touchdowns (three rushing, two passing and one receiving). Through two games so far this season, he now has 375 all-purpose yards while accounting for seven touchdowns. Silva's outstanding start to the year comes on the heels of a 2004 season in which he led the team in both rushing yards (708 yards on 161 carries) and receptions (60 catches for 507 yards), in addition to scoring a team-high 11 touchdowns. Over the course of his four-year career as a Crusader, Silva has rushed for 1,928 yards and 26 touchdowns on 461 carries, while catching 112 passes for 927 yards and two scores. He needs just 72 rushing yards this week to become only the seventh player in school history to run for 2,000 career yards.

Akande Coming Off Big Game
Senior running back Gideon Akande (Chicago, Ill.) had an outstanding day in last week's victory over Georgetown, scoring three of the Crusaders' seven touchdowns. Akande ran nine times for 33 yards and two scores, caught a pass for an eight yard touchdown and returned a kickoff for 19 yards. He has now scored four touchdowns so far this season, and ranks second on the team with 170 all-purpose yards. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Akande has now rushed for 1,639 yards and 12 touchdowns on 369 carries, while playing both fullback and tailback.

The Last Meeting With Harvard
Harvard running back Clifton Dawson ran 21 times for 184 yards and three touchdowns, to lead the Crimson to a 35-0 victory over Holy Cross in a driving rain storm at Harvard Stadium. In addition to the three touchdowns by Dawson, Harvard scored on an 87-yard punt return by Brian Edwards and two field goals from Matt Schindel. The Crimson also held the Crusaders to 131 yards of total offense in the game, and had a nearly 10-minute advantage in time of possession. In addition, Holy Cross committed five turnovers in the game, while being shut out for the first time since 1999. Dawson gave Harvard a 7-0 lead at the 4:10 mark of the first quarter on a one-yard run, then increased the margin to 14-0 with a 14-yard run at the 14:01 mark of the second quarter. The Crusaders drove deep into Harvard territory later in the quarter, before a fumble into the end zone was recovered by the Crimson for a touchback. Two plays later Dawson broke the game open with a 74-yard touchdown run. Edwards' 87-yard punt return gave Harvard a 29-0 lead at the break, then Schindel added field goals of 31 and 37 yards in the third quarter. The Holy Cross defense was led by linebackers Sain Karim and David Fitzpatrick with nine tackles each, while cornerback Darran Davis added eight tackles. Gary Sonkur had six tackles and a forced fumble for Harvard.

Adams Leads Crusader Defense
Junior linebacker Dan Adams (Springfield, Va.) has been the leader of the Holy Cross defense so far this season. In last week's victory over Georgetown, Adams totaled nine tackles with two tackles for loss and a sack. He also led the team in tackles in the season opener against Sacred Heart, finishing the contest with nine total tackles. Through two games, Adams has 18 total tackles, including 15 solo stops, two tackles for loss and a sack. A year ago, Adams ranked second on the team with 57 tackles, 43 of them being solo. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, he has now totaled 111 tackles, 84 solo stops and four tackles for loss.

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 341-158-27 (.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 mark of 13-16 at home. Holy Cross has a 2-0 mark at Fitton Field so far this year, and has a chance to post its first winning record at home since the 2001 team went 3-2. The Crusaders are scheduled to play six contests at home this year, including the current three-game homestand.

Crusaders Have Tri-Captains In 2005
Holy Cross has three captains for the 2005 football season, as senior running back Gideon Akande, senior quarterback John O'Neil and senior tailback Steve Silva were elected as the team's tri-captains. Silva, who was also a co-captain during the 2004 campaign, becomes only the ninth 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) and Brian Hall (2001-2002).

Holy Cross In The NCAA Statistics
Four Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I-AA leaders in various statistical categories, through games of Sept. 10. Senior tailback Steve Silva stands third in the nation in both points scored and points responsible for. The rankings:

 

Category              Rank  Player/Team     Avg.
Scoring                  3  Holy Cross      52.0
                         3  
Steve Silva     15.0
                         8  
Gideon Akande   12.0
Points Responsible For   3  
Steve Silva     21.0
                         6  
John O'Neil     18.0
                        24  
Gideon Akande   12.0
Turnover Margin          4  Holy Cross      +3.0
All-Purpose Yards        6  
Steve Silva    187.5
Passing Efficiency       8  
John O'Neil    166.2
                        10  Holy Cross     167.3
Punt Returns            13  
Steve Silva     15.8
                        18  Holy Cross      15.7
Solo Tackles            14  
Dan Adams        7.5
Scoring Defense         21  Holy Cross      13.5
Total Offense           23  Holy Cross     428.5
Net Punting             24  Holy Cross      36.4
Kickoff Returns         25  Holy Cross      23.3
Receptions              28  
Steve Silva      6.0
Rushing Yards           28  
Steve Silva     97.5

Crusaders On The Radio
All of Holy Cross' games in 2005 will be on WTAG 580 AM, the true sports leader for the city of Worcester. Bob Fouracre will be in his 36th season calling the play-by-play for Holy Cross football, and his 20th 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, will be in his sixth year as the color commentator. The Crusaders' games will also be available free of charge over the internet at `www.sportsjuice.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 have four games shown on live television during the 2005 season. Two home games this season will be televised on WCTR TV-3 (Worcester), against Sacred Heart on September 3 and Dartmouth on October 15. In addition, the October 8 contest at Lehigh will be carried by Service Electric Cable Television, while the November 12 game against Lafayette will be shown by the Lafayette Sports Network (RCN on Lehigh Valley Cable and WBPH TV-60 in Allentown, Pa.).

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'.

Holy Cross Receivers Look Strong
In two games so far this season, Holy Cross has 11 different players catch at least one pass. Senior Bob Turkovich (Bedford, Pa.) leads the wide outs with eight catches for 80 yards and a score, while senior Sean Gruber (Richwood, Ky.) has six receptions for 128 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Bryan Anderson (Shrewsbury, Mass.) has added two catches for 18 yards, while sophomore Thomas Harrison (Wilmington, N.C.) has two receptions for 16 yards.The Crusaders' depth at receiver should come as no surprise, as all eight players off the 2004 Holy Cross team who caught at least 10 passes are back in uniform this fall. Last season, Gruber led the team with 720 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns, while ranking second on the team in catches with 48. Turkovich had 20 receptions for 211 yards and a score last season, despite missing four games due to injury. Anderson totaled 17 catches for 185 yards in 2004, while Thomas Harrison had 12 receptions for 160 yards and a touchdown. In addition, Holy Cross has one of the Patriot League's top tight ends in fifth-year senior Luke Dugan (Maple Plain, Minn.), who has three catches for 40 yards so far in 2005.

Head Coach Tom Gilmore
Tom Gilmore is in his second season as head coach at the College of the Holy Cross. He enters this week's game with an overall record of 5-8, as the Crusaders have won five of his last eight games. Gilmore came to Holy Cross after serving as defensive coordinator at Lehigh University for four seasons, during which the Mountain Hawks were one of the finest defensive teams in Division I-AA. In 2001, he was named as the American Football Coaches Association Assistant Coach of the Year, after molding a young and inexperienced defense into a unit that allowed just 15.8 points per game and 86.6 yards rushing per game. Gilmore previously spent time as an assistant coach at 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 Crimson
Harvard is coming off a 2004 campaign in which it posted a perfect 10-0 record and finished the season ranked 13th in the nation by the Sports Network. Junior running back Clifton Dawson returns to lead the Crimson, after rushing for 1,302 yards and 17 touchdowns on 248 carries last year. He is expected to joined in the backfield by sophomore Liam O'Hagan, who looks to take over as Harvard's starting quarterback after appearing in just three games a year ago. The Crimson defense, which allowed just 13.4 points and 306.2 yards per game in 2004, will be led by senior linebacker Matt Thomas. Last season, Thomas totaled 82 tackles, 19 tackles for loss and eight sacks. Head coach Tim Murphy is in his 12th season at the helm of the Harvard program, where he has a record of 66-43. Murphy's career record stands at 98-88-1, including five seasons as the head coach at Cincinnati and two years as head coach at Maine.

Crusaders Among League Leaders
Several Holy Cross players are currently ranked at or near the top of the Patriot League standings in a number of statistical categories, through games of Sept. 3. Senior tailback Steve Silva ranks first in the conference in scoring (15.0 points/game), first in rushing (97.5 yards/game), second in all-purpose yards (187.5 yards/game), third in receptions (6.0 catches/game) and third in punt returns (15.8 yards/return), while senior quarterback John O'Neil stands first in passing efficiency (166.2 rating), second in passing yards (190.0 yards/game) and third in total offense (205.0 yards/game). In addition, junior placekicker Mike DeSantis (Belle Mead, N.J.) ranks first in extra point percentage (100.0 percent), senior running back Gideon Akande stands second in all-purpose yards (12.0 points/game), junior punter Ryan McManaway (Ferdinand, Ind.) ranks fifth in punting (37.0 yards/punt) and senior wide out Sean Gruber stands fifth in receiving yards (64.0 yards/game). As a team, Holy Cross leads the league in scoring offense (52.0 points/game), total offense (428.5 yards/game), turnover margin (+3.0 turnovers/game) and pass efficiency (167.3 rating); stands second in passing offense (226.0 yards/game), rushing offense (202.5 yards/game), scoring defense (13.5 points/game), total defense (308.5 yards/game) and kickoff returns (23.3 yards/return); and ranks third in passing defense (174.5 yards/game), pass efficiency defense (107.2 rating), punt returns (15.7 yards/return) and net punting (36.6 yards/punt).

Tradition Of Excellence
The 2005 campaign marks the 110th season of Holy Cross football. The Crusaders enter this week's game with an overall record of 558-449-54, good for a .551 winning percentage. Entering the 2005 season, Holy Cross' 556 all-time victories ranked as the 13th 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.

Quick Hits
Freshman running back Terrance Gass (Sicklerville, N.J.) was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week following last week's game against Georgetown. Gass rushed eight times for 56 yards and his first collegiate touchdown against the Hoyas ... With last week's victory over Georgetown, Holy Cross won its Patriot League opener for the sixth time in the last eight years, and improved its all-time mark in conference openers to 12-8 ... Three assistant coaches on the Holy Cross staff have been head coaches on the collegiate level. Offensive coordinator Bob Griffin was the head coach at Idaho State (1972-1975) and Rhode Island (1976-1992), defensive coordinator David Kotulski was the head coach at Bucknell (2002), and running backs coach Dave Patenaude was the head coach at New Haven (2002-2003).