Crusaders To Face Colgate In Key Patriot League Game

Oct. 17, 2005

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (5-2, 2-0 PL) vs. Colgate (4-2, 1-0 PL)
Date: October 22, 2005
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Fitton Field (23,500), Worcester, Mass.
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
Colgate Radio: WKXZ 99.3 FM, Oneonta, N.Y.; Eric Malanoski, play-by-play; Ted Rossman, color
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 36-26-5
Last Meeting: Colgate 41, Holy Cross 7; October 23, 2004; Hamilton, N.Y.

The Series With Colgate
This will be the 68th meeting between the Crusaders and the Raiders on the gridiron, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 36-26-5. Colgate has won four straight and seven out of the last eight games in the series, but prior to that Holy Cross had posted 14 consecutive victories over the Raiders. For games played in Worcester, the Crusaders hold a 23-15-2 advantage against Colgate, but the Raiders have won four in a row. The schools first met on November 3, 1917, with Colgate posting a 21-0 victory in Utica, N.Y.

Series Quick Facts
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 36-26-5
At Worcester: Holy Cross leads, 23-15-2
At Fitton Field: Holy Cross leads, 23-15-2
Current Win Streak: Colgate, four games
Tom Gilmore vs. Colgate: 0-1
Dick Biddle vs. Holy Cross: 7-2

Anderson Award On The Line
The Dr. Edward N. Anderson Award is presented annually to the outstanding player in the Family Weekend game, as determined by the working press. The award is sponsored by the Holy Cross Club of Greater Worcester, and was originally awarded to the most outstanding player of the Holy Cross-Massachusetts game. It is presented in honor of former Holy Cross head coach Edward Anderson, who had a 129-67-8 record in 21 seasons as the Crusaders' coach (1933-1938; 1950-1964), and was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1971. Last season, Bucknell quarterback Daris Wilson claimed the award, after leading the Bison to a come-from-behind 42-27 victory over the Crusaders. A player from the visiting team has taken home the honor in five of the last six seasons, with lone exception coming in 2001. That year, Holy Cross quarterback Brian Hall earned the award, after throwing for 416 yards and five touchdowns in a 63-53 victory over Lafayette. (A complete list of past Anderson Award winners can be found on page 110 of the Holy Cross media guide.)

Holy Cross On Family Weekend
The Crusaders have posted an all-time record of 27-21-1 in Family Weekend games. Holy Cross has lost three straight and five out of its last six contests on Family Weekend. Last year, Bucknell came from behind to post a 42-27 victory over the Crusaders. Holy Cross was also defeated by Dartmouth in 2003 (24-20) and Lehigh in 2002 (21-12). The last Family Weekend victory came in 2001, when the Crusaders downed Lafayette 63-53. This year's game will mark the third meeting between Holy Cross and Colgate on Family Weekend, with the teams splitting the first two contests. The previous Family Weekend meetings came in 1989 (Holy Cross, 31-6) and 1997 (Colgate, 42-7). (A complete list of Family Weekend results can be found of page 110 of the Holy Cross media guide.)

Silva Shines In Senior Season
Walter Payton Award candidate Steve Silva (East Providence, R.I.) has turned in some outstanding performances for the Crusaders so far in the 2005 season. In last week's win over Dartmouth, he recorded 353 all-purpose yards and scored a pair of touchdowns, in addition to throwing a six-yard scoring pass. Previously in the upset victory over 10th-ranked Lehigh, Silva totaled 152 all-purpose yards with a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown to lead Holy Cross to the come-from-behind win. Silva also had big games earlier in the season against Yale (250 all-purpose yards, 84-yard kickoff return for a score), Delaware (279 total yards, including 106 rushing yards and a touchdown on 24 carries), Georgetown (20 rushes for 110 yards and a touchdown, eight receptions for 61 yards, three punt returns for 49 yards) and Sacred Heart (179 total yards and six touchdowns -- three rushing, two passing and one receiving). Through seven games so far this season, Silva now has 1,493 all-purpose yards while accounting for 14 touchdowns. He currently leads the team in rushing (600 yards and seven scores on 130 carries), receptions (42 catches for 271 yards and a touchdown), kickoff returns (10 for 263 yards and a score) and punt returns (19 for 359 yards and two touchdowns). Silva has also become the first player in Holy Cross history to throw a touchdown pass and also score touchdowns on a rush, a reception, a kickoff return and a punt return in a single season. Over the course of his four-year career as a Crusader, Silva has rushed for 2,333 yards and 29 touchdowns on 556 carries, while catching 142 passes for 1,097 yards and two scores, becoming the first player in school history to record 2,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards. Entering this week's game, Silva ranks second all-time at Holy Cross in career rushing touchdowns, third in total touchdowns scored (34), third in all-purpose yards (4,512), third in rushing carries, fourth in points scored (192), fifth in rushing yards and fifth in receptions.

Silva Has Record Setting Day
Walter Payton Award candidate Steve Silva set three school records in last week's 28-16 victory over Dartmouth. Silva broke the Holy Cross single-game marks for most all-purpose yards (353) and punt return yards (167), while also setting a new record for the longest punt return in school history with an 87-yard return for a touchdown at the end of the second quarter. The old single-game marks were 144 punt return yards (John Provost against Brown in 1974) and 337 all-purpose yards (Gill Fenerty against Columbia in 1983). The old record for the longest punt return in Holy Cross history was 85 yards (by Johnny Turco against Colgate in 1950, and Provost against Brown in 1974). With four games remaining in the 2005 regular season, Silva needs 681 all-purpose yards to break the Holy Cross single-season record (2,173 by Gordie Lockbaum in 1987), and 714 all-purpose yards to break the school career record (5,226 by Ari Confesor from 2000-2003).

Gruber Enjoying Another Big Year
Senior wide receiver Sean Gruber (Richwood, Ky.) continues to be one of the top threats in the Holy Cross passing game this season. In last week's win over Dartmouth, he posted four receptions for 57 yards and a score. Previously in the victory at Lehigh, Gruber caught five passes for 62 yards, including a 34-yard catch for the game-winning touchdown with 4:34 left in the fourth quarter. Earlier in the season at Yale, he ranked second on the team with four catches for 45 yards, while scoring a nine-yard rushing touchdown on a reverse. Gruber also had a big game at Delaware, with five receptions for 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Through seven games on the year, he leads the team with 426 receiving yards and six touchdown catches, while averaging 17.0 yards on his 25 catches. Last season, Gruber led the team with 720 receiving yards and eight receiving touchdowns, while ranking second on the team with 48 catches. He finished last year ranked third in the Patriot League in receiving yards and fifth in receptions. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Gruber now has 110 receptions for 1,699 yards and 19 scores. He currently ranks sixth all-time at Holy Cross in career receiving yards, while his 19 career touchdown are tied for the most in school history (with Ari Confesor, who had 19 touchdown catches from 2000-2003).

The Last Meeting With Colgate
Holy Cross turned the ball over eight times, including five fumbles in the first quarter, on its way to a 41-7 loss against Colgate at Andy Kerr Stadium. The Crusader defense started the game strong, stopping the Raider offense on each of its first four possessions, but after Holy Cross turned the ball over in its own territory for the third time, Colgate went up 7-0 on a 14-yard run by Jamaal Branch. The Raiders added two more touchdown runs by Branch on their next two possessions, but never had to march more than 44 yards to score. By the second quarter, the Crusader defense began to wear down, after Colgate had run 28 offensive plays to Holy Cross' 13 in the opening period. The Raiders added two more touchdowns before halftime, on a 22-yard run by quarterback Chris Brown, and a 53-yard pass from Brown to DeWayne Long. Branch scored his fourth touchdown of the game on a two-yard run in the fourth quarter, to put Colgate up 41-0. The Crusaders avoided the shutout when quarterback Brian McSharry engineered a nine-play, 80-yard drive, scoring the touchdown himself on a three-yard run. John O'Neil led the Holy Cross offense by completing 12 of 24 passes for 114 yards, despite not playing in the second half. Branch had 208 yards on 33 carries to lead the Raiders. David Fitzpatrick had a game-high 12 tackles for the Crusader defense, while Obi Green added seven tackles with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

Defense Stepping Up In 2005
The Holy Cross defense is much improved this season, and has held each of its last three opponents under 20 points scored. Last week against Dartmouth, Holy Cross allowed just 16 points and 318 yards, with the Big Green accumulating just 91 yards, five first downs and no points in the first three quarters. The Crusaders also had an outstanding performance in the victory over Lehigh, giving up just 289 yards of total offense and 10 points, while recovering three of the Mountain Hawks' 11 fumbles. Earlier in the season, Holy Cross also played well in the wins over Georgetown (allowing 268 yards of total offense and six points), and Yale (holding the Bulldogs scoreless for the first three quarters and allowing just 19 points). Overall this year, Crusader opponents are averaging 374.3 yards, 19.7 points and 20.1 first downs per contest, including games against Lehigh (which averages 33.7 points and 382.7 yards per game), Delaware (26.3 points and 379.2 yards per game) and Harvard (26.0 points and 405.2 yards per game). In addition, the Crusaders have forced a total of 16 turnovers on the season, with nine interceptions and seven fumble recoveries. Last year, Holy Cross allowed its opponents to average 33.4 points and 412.0 yards per game.

Offense Looking Impressive In 2005
The Crusader offense has put up some big numbers in the first seven games of the 2005 season. So far this year, Holy Cross has averaged 30.1 points, 18.0 first downs and 324.3 yards of total offense per contest. The Crusaders have been amazingly consistent, scoring over 20 points in six games this year, while recording 395 or more yards of total offense three times. Holy Cross has also avoided turnovers so far in 2005, as the Crusaders have only given the ball away three times this season. In 221 passing attempts so far this year, Holy Cross has thrown only one interception, while in 258 rushing attempts they have lost just two fumbles. In addition, Holy Cross' 170 points scored over the first five weeks of the year were its most in a five-game span since the 1991 season (42-28 win over Brown, 43-42 victory at Lehigh, 48-14 win vs. Lafayette, 42-6 victory at Bucknell and 24-19 victory over Fordham).

Crusaders Dominate Turnover Battle
Through seven games so far this season, Holy Cross has forced its opponents to commit 16 turnovers, while giving the ball away only three times. The Crusader defense has posted nine interceptions so far this year, in addition to recovering seven fumbles. Junior cornerback Casey Gough (Hinsdale, Ill.) leads the team with three interceptions on the season, while senior cornerback Tyler Nugent (White Plains, N.Y.) has a pair of interceptions, sophomore strong safety Kent Flanders (Atlanta, Ga.) has a pair of fumble recoveries, and senior linebacker Matt Dugan (Washington, D.C.) has one interception and one fumble recovery. The Holy Cross defense has also been incredibly consistent, as it has forced at least one turnover in every game, and two or more turnovers six times. On the offensive side of the ball, the Crusaders have thrown just one interception this season, and have lost only two fumbles.

Crusaders Look For Winning Record
With a victory over Colgate this week, Holy Cross would guarantee that it would finish the 2005 season with a winning record. The Crusaders currently stand 5-2 overall and 2-0 in the Patriot League with four contests remaining (all of them conference games). The last time Holy Cross had a winning record (overall or in league play) came during the 2000 season, when it went 7-4 overall and 4-2 in the conference. The 2000 campaign is the only time since 1992 that the Crusaders finished the year with a winning mark. Holy Cross is also in contention for the sixth Patriot League championship in school history. The Crusaders previously won the conference title in 1986, 1987, 1989, 1990 and 1991.

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 seven games so far this year, O'Neil has completed 114 of 203 attempts for 1,158 yards and nine touchdowns with just one interception, in addition to catching two touchdown passes. His top game so far this year came at Delaware, when he connected on 17 of 32 attempts for a season-high 236 yards and a pair of touchdowns. 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 ninth on the Holy Cross single season list for passing yards. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, O'Neil has now completed 523 of 936 passes for 5,754 yards and 46 touchdowns, becoming only the fourth player in school history to throw for 5,000 career yards. O'Neil is currently ranked third all-time at Holy Cross in career passing yards, completions and attempts, while standing fourth in passing touchdowns, completion percentage (55.9) and yards of total offense (6,215). He needs 842 passing yards this season to become the first Crusader since Tom Ciaccio (1989-1991) to throw of over 2,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.

Adams Leading Crusader Defense
Junior linebacker Dan Adams (Springfield, Va.) has been the leader of the Holy Cross defense so far this season. He had a team-high five tackles with one tackle for loss against Dartmouth last week, while ranking second on the team with nine tackles and recovering a fumble in the victory at Lehigh. Adams previously posted nine tackles in the victory at Yale, while making a team-high 10 tackles at Delaware and posting eight solo tackles against Harvard. In the victory over Georgetown, Adams totaled nine tackles with two tackles for loss and a sack, while he also posted nine total tackles in the season opener against Sacred Heart. Through seven games this year, Adams has 59 total tackles, including 50 solo stops, three 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 152 tackles, 119 solo stops and five tackles for loss.

Nielsen Has Huge Game At Lehigh
Junior linebacker Chris Nielsen (Center Line, Mich.) had an outstanding afternoon in the 13-10 victory over 10th-ranked Lehigh, and was honored as the Sports Network National Defensive Player of the Week and the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week for his performance. Nielsen led the Crusader defense by forcing a fumble and recording 14 total tackles in the game, including 13 solo stops and a tackle for loss. He also had a strong performance earlier in the season against Harvard, posting a team-high 10 solo tackles with one tackle for loss. In addition, Nielsen had eight total tackles in the victory at Yale, while recording four tackles and a sack against Dartmouth. On the year, he ranks second on the team with 49 total tackles, including 42 solo stops and a team-best six tackles for loss. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Nielsen now has 71 total tackles, 60 solo tackles and eight 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 342-159-27 (.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 record of 14-17 at home. Holy Cross has a 3-1 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 two more contests at home this year.

Holy Cross Against Ranked Teams
The Crusaders have a 1-2 record against ranked opponents so far this season. Holy Cross posted a 13-10 victory at No. 10 Lehigh on Oct. 8, while falling 35-23 at No. 6 Delaware on Sept. 24, and losing 31-21 to No. 19 Harvard on Sept. 17. The Crusaders' victory over the Mountain Hawks last week marked their first win over a ranked team since Sept. 23, 2000, when they posted a 17-14 victory over 18th-ranked and previously unbeaten Towson at Fitton Field.

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 Oct. 15. Senior tailback Steve Silva leads the nation in both all-purpose yards and punt returns. The rankings:

 

Category              Rank  Player/Team       Avg.
All-Purpose Yards         1  
Steve Silva     213.3
Turnovers Lost            1  Holy Cross        0.4
Punt Returns              1  
Steve Silva      18.9
                          6  Holy Cross       17.7
Turnover Margin           2  Holy Cross       +1.9
Solo Tackles              3  
Dan Adams         7.1
                         14  
Chris Nielsen     6.0
Fewest Penalties          4  Holy Cross        3.9
Fewest Penalty Yards      9  Holy Cross       35.4
Scoring                  13  
Steve Silva       9.4
Receptions               15  
Steve Silva       6.0
Kickoff Returns          18  
Steve Silva      26.3
Turnovers Caused         20  Holy Cross        2.3
Scoring Defense          27  Holy Cross       19.7
Completions              34  
John O'Neil      16.3
Points Responsible For   34  
Steve Silva      12.0
Interceptions            17  Holy Cross        1.3
                         35  
Casey Gough       0.4
Rushing Yards            43  
Steve Silva      85.7

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 Oct. 15. Senior tailback Steve Silva ranks first in the conference in all-purpose yards (213.3 yards/game), first in receptions (6.0 catches/game), first in punt returns (18.9 yards/return), second in rushing (85.7 yards/game), second in scoring (9.4 points/game) and second in kickoff returns (26.3 yards/return), while senior quarterback John O'Neil stands second in passing efficiency (117.7 rating), third in passing yards (165.4 yards/game) and third in total offense (182.4 yards/game). In addition, senior wide receiver Sean Gruber ranks second in receiving yards (60.9 yards/game) and fourth in scoring (6.0 points/game), junior placekicker Mike DeSantis (Belle Mead, N.J.) stands first in extra point percentage (100.0 percent), junior cornerback Casey Gough ranks fourth in interceptions (0.4 picks/game) and junior punter Ryan McManaway (Ferdinand, Ind.) stands second in punting (36.6 yards/punt). As a team, Holy Cross leads the league in turnover margin (+1.9 turnovers/game) and punt returns (17.7 yards/return); stands second in scoring offense (30.1 points/game), passing offense (182.4 yards/game), pass efficiency (123.1 rating) and net punting (32.8 yards/punt); and ranks third in total offense (324.3 yards/game), scoring defense (19.7 points/game), pass efficiency defense (122.4 rating) and kickoff returns (21.0 yards/return).

Gough Steps Up In The Secondary
Junior cornerback Casey Gough has turned in some outstanding performances for the Crusaders so far in the 2005 season. In the victory at 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 Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week following the Harvard game, after making six tackles and scoring the first touchdown of his collegiate career on a 42-yard interception return in the first quarter. Through seven games on the year, he leads the team with three interceptions and 53 interception return yards. Gough also ranks third on the squad with 31 tackles, including 29 solo stops, and has two pass breakups. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Gough has now totaled 79 tackles, four interceptions and 10 pass breakups.

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 8-10, as the Crusaders have won eight of his last 12 games. On Oct. 8, Gilmore led Holy Cross to its first victory over a ranked team since 2000 with the 13-10 win at No. 10 Lehigh. 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.

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 561-451-54, good for a .552 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.

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 were 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 was carried by Fox College Sports Pacific, Fox Sports Net Pittsburgh and 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'.

Scouting The Raiders
Colgate enters this week's game with an overall record of 4-2 and a 1-0 mark in the Patriot League. The Raiders have won their last three games, including a 23-0 victory over Fordham last week. The Colgate offense is led by junior quarterback Mike Saraceno, who has completed 64 of 120 passes for 864 yards with five touchdowns and seven interceptions. Freshman tailback Jordan Scott is also enjoying a fine year, rushing for 363 yards and three scores on 106 carries. Senior linebacker Jared Nepa has 44 tackles, five tackles for loss and three interceptions to lead the Raider defense. Dick Biddle is now in his 10th season as Colgate's head coach, and has posted an overall record of 80-33. Biddle served as the Raiders' defensive coordinator before taking over as head coach, and also spent time as an assistant at Navy, Minnesota and Virginia Tech.

Quick Hits
With the 13-10 victory at Lehigh, the Crusaders defeated the Mountain Hawks for the first time since posting a 20-14 win in Bethlehem on Nov. 8, 1997. Holy Cross also ended an 11-game losing streak for contests played in the state of Pennsylvania, since that 1997 win at Lehigh ... The Crusaders stand 2-0 in the Patriot League for the first time since the 2001 season, when they won their first three conference games against Georgetown (33-7), Towson (17-9) and Lafayette (63-53) ... The Crusader offense has scored points on 24 of its 27 trips into the red zone this season, with 21 touchdowns and three field goals ... 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).