Crusaders Set To Face Fordham On Homecoming Weekend

Sept. 25, 2006

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (2-2, 1-0 PL) vs. Fordham (1-2, 0-0 PL)
Date: September 30, 2006
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Fitton Field (23,500), Worcester, Mass.
ESPNU Television: Sam Gore, play-by-play; Jay Walker, color (tape delay broadcast at 10:00 p.m.)
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
Fordham Radio: WFUV 90.7 FM, Bronx, N.Y.
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 22-19-2
Last Meeting: Fordham 24, Holy Cross 20, October 29, 2005, Bronx, N.Y.

The Series With Fordham
This will be the 44th meeting between the Crusaders and the Rams on the gridiron, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 22-19-2. Fordham has won the last five meetings and nine of the last 11, although the Crusaders did post back-to-back victories in the series in 1999 (37-14 on the road) and 2000 (27-20 at home). For games played at Fitton Field, Holy Cross holds a 12-8-1 advantage, but the Rams have won on their last two visits to Worcester. Since Fordham joined the Patriot League prior to the start of the 1990 season, the Rams hold a 9-7 lead in the series.

Series Quick Facts
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 22-19-2
In Worcester: Holy Cross leads, 12-8-1
At Fitton Field: Holy Cross leads, 12-8-1
Current Win Streak: Fordham, five games
Tom Gilmore vs. Fordham: 0-2
Tom Masella vs. Holy Cross: 0-0
In Overtime: n/a

Holy Cross In Homecoming Games
The Crusaders have posted an all-time record of 28-28-1 in Homecoming games, including a 48-6 victory over Georgetown last season. Since winning 11 straight games on Homecoming Weekend from 1982-1992, Holy Cross has gone only 3-10 in Homecoming games over the last 13 years. Prior to last season's victory, the Crusaders had dropped three straight on Homecoming Weekend. This year's game will mark the second time the Crusaders have faced Fordham in their Homecoming game. In the only previous Homecoming meeting between the schools, Holy Cross posted a 12-7 victory on Oct. 4, 1952.

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 tailback Steve Silva won the Turco Memorial Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of the Homecoming game. Silva rushed 20 times for 110 yards and a touchdown in Holy Cross' 48-6 victory over Georgetown, in addition to catching eight passes for 61 yards.

Gough Steps Up In The Secondary
Senior cornerback Casey Gough (Hinsdale, Ill.) looks to be one of the top defensive backs and kickoff returners in the Patriot League this season. In last week's victory at Marist, he totaled five solo tackles, two tackles for loss, a forced fumble and an interception to earn Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week honors. Gough also had a strong game in the season opener at Georgetown, posting six total tackles and two pass breakups. Through the first four games of the year, he has now totaled 14 tackles and a team-high three pass breakups. Prior to the start of the year, Gough was named a preseason honorable mention All-American as a kickoff returner by Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette. A year ago, he was named second team All-Patriot League, after posting a team-best three interceptions, 45 total tackles, three tackles for loss and six pass breakups. In last season's victory over Yale, Gough recorded a career-high 11 tackles, including 10 solo stops, with two tackles for loss, an interception and a safety. Following that contest, he was named Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette National Defensive Player of the Week, Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week and ECAC Defensive Player of the Week. Gough was also named Don Hansen's National Weekly Football Gazette National Special Teams Player of the Week and Patriot League Special Teams Player of the Week following the Bucknell game, after returning four kickoffs for 173 yards and a touchdown. In addition, he was named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week following the Harvard game, after making six tackles and returning an interception 42 yards for a touchdown. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Gough has now totaled 107 tackles, five interceptions and 17 pass breakups.

Quarterback Combination Leads Crusader Offense
Junior quarterback Brian McSharry (Abington, Mass.) and sophomore quarterback Dominic Randolph (Amelia, Ohio) have provided solid leadership for the Holy Cross offense so far this season. McSharry has completed 69 of 114 passes on the year for 711 yards with six touchdowns and just one interception. Last week at Marist, he hit on 15 of 23 attempts for 139 yards and two scores, in addition to rushing for a touchdown. In the previous game at Harvard, McSharry completed 19 of 38 attempts for a career-best 265 yards and two touchdowns. He also completed 82.6 percent of his passes (19 of 23) for 126 yards and a score against Northeastern, while hitting on 16 of 30 attempts for 181 yards and a touchdown at Georgetown. Meanwhile, Randolph has connected on 18 of 27 attempts this year for 180 yards and a score, while missing two games due to injury. Last week at Marist, he hit on eight of 12 passes for 101 yards and a touchdown. In the season-opener at Georgetown, Randolph was true on 10 of 15 attempts for 79 yards.

Defense Shuts Out Marist
The Holy Cross defense turned in its top performance of the 2006 season last Saturday in the 27-0 shutout victory at Marist. The shutout was the second by the Crusaders during Tom Gilmore's tenure as head coach, to go along with a 24-0 win at Dartmouth on Oct. 16, 2004. In addition, Holy Cross held Marist to just 265 yards of total offense, marking the second time this season the Crusaders have kept their opponent under 300 yards (Georgetown managed just 248 yards in the season opener). Since the beginning of the 2004 season, the Crusaders have now held their opposition to under 300 yards of total offense six times. With last week's victory, Holy Cross became only the second Patriot League team to record a shutout this season. Through the first four contests of the 2006 campaign, the Crusaders are holding their opponents to just 17.0 points, 16.5 first downs and 325.0 yards per game.

The Last Meeting With Fordham
Luke Dugan set career highs with 10 catches and 136 receiving yards, but it was not enough as Holy Cross dropped a close 24-20 game to Fordham at Jack Coffey Field on Oct. 29, 2005. Fordham jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first quarter, when Derric Daniels threw an 86-yard touchdown pass to Mike Melvin. The Rams increased their lead to 17-0 in the second quarter on a 12-yard scoring pass from Daniels to Erik Conroy and a 26-yard field goal by Micah Clukey. But following Clukey's field goal with 33 seconds remaining in the second quarter, Casey Gough returned the kickoff 65 yards to the Fordham 21-yard line, giving the Crusaders a chance to get on the board. Holy Cross scored on an 11-yard pass from John O'Neil to Dugan to make the score 17-6, but the extra point attempt was blocked. The Crusaders then came out of the locker room on fire to start the third quarter, with Mike Kielt scoring a pair of rushing touchdowns following drives of 61 and 84 yards, putting Holy Cross up 20-17. On their next possession, the Crusaders moved into Fordham territory again, but a pair of penalties forced the drive the stall, giving the ball back to the Rams. Fordham then regained the lead, with Craig Stevens scoring on a one-yard touchdown run. Holy Cross nearly took the lead again when Matt Fanning returned a punt 57 yards to the Fordham 40-yard line, but Ram punter Anthony DiFino made a game-saving tackle. The Crusaders fumbled the ball away two plays later, and were unable to move past the Fordham 47-yard line on their final drive in the last minute of the game. Holy Cross played the contest without three of its regular starters, as Steve Silva, Gideon Akande and Obi Green all missed the game due to injury. O'Neil completed 20 of 29 passes for 238 yards on the day, while James Prydatko led Fordham with 143 rushing yards on 30 carries. Chris Nielsen led the Crusader defense with 13 tackles, a forced fumble and a sack.

Kielt & Gass Head Up Ground Game
The Crusader offense has displayed a solid ground game in 2006, with sophomore tailback Mike Kielt (Southbury, Conn.) and sophomore tailback Terrance Gass (Sicklerville, N.J.) sharing the work load. Kielt currently leads the team in rushing with 219 yards and two scores on 43 carries. In last week's victory at Marist, he rushed 11 times for a career-high 71 yards. Meanwhile, Gass has added 176 rushing yards and a touchdown on 41 carries. His top game of the season came in the win at Georgetown, when he carried 15 times for 56 yards and a score.

Tradition Of Excellence
The 2006 campaign marks the 111th season of Holy Cross football. The Crusaders enter this week's game with an overall record of 564-456-54, good for a .550 winning percentage. Prior to the start of the 2006 season, Holy Cross' 562 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 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.

Adams Leads Crusader Defense
Senior linebacker Dan Adams (Springfield, Va.) is once again one of the top defensive players in the Patriot League this year, and has led Holy Cross in tackles in every game this season. In the Harvard game, Adams recorded nine solo tackles, including one tackle for loss. The previous week against Northeastern, he led the team with 10 total tackles, including eight solo stops and two tackles for loss. In the season opener at Georgetown, Adams totaled eight tackles, with three tackles for loss, an interception, a fumble recovery and a pass breakup. Following the Georgetown contest, Adams was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week, and received the Boston Globe Gold Helmet award. Through four games, he has now totaled 33 tackles, including 27 solo stops and a team-best six tackles for loss. Prior to the start of the season, Adams was named the 16th-best linebacker in all of Division I-AA by the Sports Network. A year ago, he led the Holy Cross defense with 115 total tackles, including 97 solo stops, four tackles for loss and one sack. He finished the season as the national leader in solo tackles with an average of 8.8 per game, while ranking 21st in the country in total tackles. Adams' top game in 2005 came against Colgate, when he set a career high with 21 solo tackles, the most tackles in a game by a Crusader since the 1993 season. Some of his other top performances last year came against Lafayette (16 total tackles, including 14 solo stops and a tackle for loss), Delaware (team-high 10 tackles) and Bucknell (10 total tackles). Over the course of his career as a Crusader, he has now totaled 241 total tackles, 193 solo stops and 12 tackles for loss.

Crusaders Show Depth At Wide Receiver
Holy Cross has shown that it has a number of other weapons in the passing game this season, as five different wide receivers have already recorded at least 10 receptions on the year. Junior wide receiver Ryan Maher (Boca Raton, Fla.) leads the team with 21 catches for 185 yards and two touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Matt Fanning (Marlborough, Mass.) has posted 17 catches for a team-high 222 yards and two scores, while junior wide receiver Thomas Harrison (Wilmington, N.C.) has caught 16 passes for 169 yards and a touchdown. In addition, sophomore wide out Brett McDermott (Mansfield, Mass.) has added 11 receptions for 150 yards and a touchdown, and sophomore wide out Jon Brock (Acworth, Ga.) has brought in 10 receptions for 90 yards. All told this season, eight different Holy Cross wide receiver have already caught at least one pass.

Kickers Look To Shine In 2006
Senior placekicker Mike DeSantis (Belle Mead, N.J.) and senior punter Ryan McManaway (Ferdinand, Ind.) give Holy Cross one of the top kicking tandems in the Patriot League. DeSantis, who was a second team All-Patriot League selection in 2004, enters this week's game having made 20 of 28 career field goal attempts and 110 of 122 career extra points for a total of 170 points. He already holds the school career record for field goal percentage (71.4 percent), while standing second all-time in career extra points made. McManaway was named second team All-Patriot League in 2005, and has averaged 34.5 yards on 174 punts during his collegiate career, while placing 32 kicks inside the opponents' 20-yard line. He enters this week's game ranked fourth all-time at Holy Cross in both career punts and career punting yards (6,006).

Holy Cross In The Patriot League
Holy Cross is now in its 21st season of play in the Patriot League. With the season-opening victory at Georgetown, the Crusaders now own an all-time mark of 13-8 in their opening Patriot League contest of the season. Holy Cross is now 7-2 in conference openers over the last nine 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). This week, Holy Cross will play its first conference home game of the 2006 season. The Crusaders enter the game with a 14-6 mark in Patriot League home openers. Overall, Holy Cross owns an all-time record of 57-53 (.518) in Patriot League action, winning five titles (1986, 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991).

Holy Cross In The NCAA Statistics
Five Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I-AA leaders in various statistical categories, through games of Sept. 23. Senior linebacker Dan Adams leads the way by standing fifth in solo tackles. The rankings:

 

Category              Rank  Player/Team       Avg.
Solo Tackles             5  
Dan Adams          6.8
Completions             18  
Brian McSharry    17.3
Tackles For Loss        23  
Dan Adams          1.5
Turnover Margin         26  Holy Cross        +0.8
Scoring Defense         27  Holy Cross        17.0
Points Responsible For  33  
Brian McSharry    10.5
Receptions              33  
Ryan Maher         5.3
Passing Yards           18  Holy Cross       228.5
                        41  
Brian McSharry   177.8
Passing Efficiency      44  
Brian McSharry   128.5
Passes Defended         45  
Casey Gough        1.0

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. 23. Junior quarterback Brian McSharry ranks second in the league in passing yards (177.8 yards/game), while standing third in passing efficiency (128.5 rating) and in total offense (162.5 yards/game). Senior wide receiver Matt Fanning is third in the conference in receiving yards (55.5 yards/game), while ranking fourth in receptions (4.3 catches/game) and punt returns (7.9 yards/return). In addition, junior wide out Ryan Maher leads the league in receptions (5.3 catches/game), sophomore tailback Mike Kielt stands fifth in rushing (54.8 yards/game), junior wide receiver Thomas Harrison ranks fifth in receptions (4.0 catches/game), and senior placekicker Mike DeSantis stands fourth in field goals (0.5 field goals/game). As a team, Holy Cross leads the league in scoring offense (20.2 points/game), passing offense (228.5 yards/game), pass efficiency (130.3 rating) and turnover margin (+0.8 turnovers/game), while ranking second in scoring defense (17.0 points/game) and third in total offense (320.2 yards/game) and pass efficiency defense (108.9 rating).

Crusaders Dominate Turnover Battle
Holy Cross looks to be strong in the turnover department once again this year, having forced seven turnovers so far this season while losing the ball only four times. Last season, Holy Cross forced its opponents to commit 24 turnovers, while giving the ball away only 13 times. The Crusader defense posted 11 interceptions last year, in addition to recovering 13 fumbles. The Holy Cross defense has now forced at least one turnover in 22 consecutive games, while causing two or more turnovers 14 times during that stretch. On the offensive side of the ball, the Crusaders have thrown just eight interceptions and lost only nine fumbles over their last 15 contests.

Nielsen Looks For Another Big Year
Senior linebacker Chris Nielsen (Center Line, Mich.) is one of the top players for the Holy Cross defense this season, having totaled 16 tackles with two tackles for loss, a sack and a pass breakup this season. Last year he was named to the ESPN The Magazine Academic All-District I first team, for his outstanding work both on the field and in the classroom (3.43 GPA in mathematics). During the 2005 season, Nielsen ranked second on the team with 72 total tackles, including 61 solo stops and a team-best eight tackles for loss. His top game of 2005 came in the win over No. 10 Lehigh, after which he was named the Sports Network National Defensive Player of the Week and the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week. Nielsen led the Crusader defense by forcing a fumble and recording 14 total tackles at Lehigh, including 13 solo stops and a tackle for loss. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Nielsen now has 110 total tackles, 91 solo tackles and 12 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 342-162-27 (.669). 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 14-20 at home. Holy Cross had a 3-3 mark at Fitton Field last year, marking the team's first non-losing season at home since the 2001 team went 3-2.

Head Coach Tom Gilmore
Tom Gilmore is in his third season as head coach at the College of the Holy Cross. He enters this week's game with an overall record of 11-15, as the Crusaders have won 11 of his last 20 games. Last year, 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. Gilmore came to Holy Cross after serving as defensive coordinator at Lehigh 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 Rams
Fordham enters this week's game with an overall record of 1-2 on the season. The Rams have been defeated by Monmouth (23-9) and Columbia (37-7), while posting a victory over Albany (9-7). Senior tailback James Prydatko has led the Fordham offense by rushing for 330 yards and two touchdowns on 67 carries, while catching five passes for 48 yards. Senior quarterback Derric Daniels is also off to a good start this year, completing 23 of 50 attempts for 253 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions, in addition to rushing for 46 yards on 20 carries. Defensively, the Rams are led by senior linebacker Marcus Taylor, who has totaled 31 tackles, four tackles for loss, two sacks and an interception so far this season. Head coach Tom Masella is in his first season at the helm of the Fordham program in 2006. Prior to his time with the Rams, Masella served as the head coach at Central Connecticut State (2004-2005), Boston University (1996-1997) and Fairfield (1995).

Crusaders Have Four Captains
Holy Cross has four captains for the 2006 football season. Senior linebacker Dan Adams, senior cornerback Casey Gough, senior fullback Frank Herlihy (West Seneca, N.Y.) and senior linebacker Chris Nielsen were named the team's captains by head coach Tom Gilmore following the conclusion of spring practice. This marks only the 11th time that the Crusaders have had four captains for a season, with the last occasion coming in 2002 (Ari Confesor, Steve Fox, Ben Koller and Nick Larsen).

Holy Cross Picked Fourth In Preseason Poll
The 2006 Crusaders were picked to finish in fourth place in a preseason poll of the Patriot League's head coaches and sports information directors. In addition, Jordan Scott of Colgate has been named the preseason Offensive Player of the Year, Geoff Bean of Colgate was chosen as the preseason Defensive Player of the Year, and Micah Clukey of Fordham was selected as the preseason Special Teams Player of the Year.

 

Rank  School (1st place votes)    2005 Record  Points
  1.  Colgate (8)                8-4 / 5-1 PL      68
  2.  Lafayette (3)              8-4 / 5-1 PL      61
  3.  Lehigh (3)                 8-3 / 4-2 PL      57
  4.  Holy Cross                 6-5 / 3-3 PL      35
  5.  Fordham                    2-9 / 2-4 PL      33
  6.  Bucknell                  1-10 / 0-6 PL      27
  7.  Georgetown                 4-7 / 2-4 PL      13

Crusaders On The Radio
Ten of Holy Cross' 11 games in 2006 will air on WTAG 580 AM, the true sports leader for the city of Worcester. Bob Fouracre will be in his 37th season calling the play-by-play for Holy Cross football, and his 21st 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 seventh year as the color commentator. All of 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 to have five games shown on television during the 2006 season. Two home games this season will be televised live on WCTR TV-3 (Worcester), against Brown on October 7 and Lehigh on October 28. In addition, the September 9 game against Northeastern was carried live by CN8 on Comcast Cable, the September 30 contest against Fordham will be shown nationally on a tape delay basis by ESPNU, and the November 11 game at Colgate will be carried live by Time Warner Cable in Central New York.

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'.