Holy Cross Football Looks To Rebound At Fordham

Oct. 24, 2005

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Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (5-3, 2-1 PL) vs. Fordham (0-7, 0-3 PL)
Date: October 29, 2005
Time: 1:00 p.m.
Place: Jack Coffey Field (7,000), Bronx, N.Y.
Holy Cross Radio: WTAG 580 AM, Worcester; Bob Fouracre, play-by-play; Tom Kelleher, color; www.sportsjuice.com, internet
Fordham Radio: WFUV 90.7 FM, Bronx, N.Y.; www.wfuv.org, internet
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 22-18-2
Last Meeting: Fordham 42, Holy Cross 35; October 2, 2004; Worcester, Mass.

The Series With Fordham
This will be the 43rd meeting between the Crusaders and the Rams on the gridiron, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 22-18-2. Fordham has won the last four meetings and eight of the last 10, 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). In games played at Jack Coffey Field, the series is tied at 3-3.

Series Quick Facts
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 22-18-2
At New York: Tied, 9-9-1
At Jack Coffey Field: Tied 3-3
Current Win Streak: Fordham, four games
Tom Gilmore vs. Fordham: 0-1
Ed Foley vs. Holy Cross: 1-0

Turkovich Coming Off Career Day
Senior wide receiver Bob Turkovich (Bedford, Pa.) had the top game of his Holy Cross career against Colgate last week. Turkovich caught six passes for 117 yards and a touchdown against the Raiders, setting new career highs for both receptions and receiving yards. Three of his catches on the day went for over 20 yards, including a 48-yard touchdown reception on Holy Cross' first offensive play of the game. Turkovich also rushed once for seven yards on a reverse, converting a key fourth and four on the Crusaders' second scoring drive. Some of his other top games this year came against Delaware (five catches for 73 yards) and Harvard (five receptions for 42 yards and a score). Through eight games so far this season, Turkovich now ranks second on the team in receiving yards (344) and third in receptions (27), while averaging 12.7 yards per catch and scoring three touchdowns. Over the course of his career as a Crusader, Turkovich has caught 47 passes for 555 yards and four scores.

Adams Leading Crusader Defense
Junior linebacker Dan Adams (Springfield, Va.) has been the leader of the Holy Cross defense so far this season. Last week against Colgate, Adams had a career-high 21 solo tackles, recording the most tackles by a Crusader since Rob Milanette made 22 stops against Princeton on Oct. 2, 1993. He previously posted nine tackles and a fumble recovery in the victory at Lehigh, in addition to making nine tackles in the win at Yale. Adams also had a team-high 10 tackles at Delaware, and posted 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 eight games this year, Adams has 80 total tackles, including 71 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 173 tackles, 140 solo stops and five tackles for loss.

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. Last week against Colgate, Silva had a career-best 10 receptions for 63 yards, while totaling 178 all-purpose yards. In the previous game against Dartmouth, he recorded 353 all-purpose yards and scored a pair of touchdowns, in addition to throwing a six-yard scoring pass. Silva also had a huge game in the upset victory over 10th-ranked Lehigh, totaling 152 all-purpose yards with a 66-yard punt return for a touchdown to lead Holy Cross to the come-from-behind win. Earlier this season, Silva's other top performances came 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 eight games so far this season, Silva now has 1,671 all-purpose yards while accounting for 14 touchdowns. He currently leads the team in rushing (609 yards and seven scores on 133 carries), receptions (52 catches for 334 yards and a touchdown), kickoff returns (13 for 339 yards and a score) and punt returns (20 for 389 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 2,342 yards and 29 touchdowns on 559 carries, while catching 152 passes for 1,160 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), fourth in receptions and fifth in rushing yards.

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 game against Colgate, Gruber caught three passes for 35 yards and a score, which marked the 20th touchdown catch of his Holy Cross career. With that catch, he broke the school record for career touchdown receptions, which was previously held by Ari Confesor, who had 19 scoring catches from 2000-2003. Earlier this season in the win over Dartmouth, Gruber posted four receptions for 57 yards and a score, while in the victory at Lehigh, he caught five passes for 62 yards, including a 34-yard catch for the game-winning touchdown with 4:34 left in the fourth quarter. He also had big games earlier in the season against Yale (four catches for 45 yards, while scoring a nine-yard rushing touchdown on a reverse) and Delaware, (five receptions for 131 yards and a pair of touchdowns). Through eight games on the year, he leads the team with 461 receiving yards and seven touchdown catches, while averaging 16.5 yards on his 28 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 113 receptions for 1,734 yards and 20 scores, to rank sixth all-time at Holy Cross in career receiving yards.

Crusaders Dominate Turnover Battle
Through eight games so far this season, Holy Cross has forced its opponents to commit 18 turnovers, while giving the ball away only five times. The Crusader defense has posted nine interceptions so far this year, in addition to recovering nine fumbles. Junior cornerback Casey Gough (Hinsdale, Ill.) leads the team with three interceptions and one fumble recovery 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 seven times. On the offensive side of the ball, the Crusaders have thrown just two interception this season, and have lost only three fumbles.

The Last Meeting With Fordham
Steve Silva scored two touchdowns and recorded 184 all-purpose yards, but it was not enough as Holy Cross suffered a tough 42-35 loss to Fordham at Fitton Field. Holy Cross started the game hot, with John O'Neil throwing a 51-yard touchdown pass to Sean Gruber on the first offensive play of the game. The teams then traded touchdowns, before a 40-yard field goal by Mike DeSantis gave Holy Cross a 24-14 lead with just over a minute left in the first half. But Fordham came back again, scoring with only four seconds left in the half on a two-yard run by James Prydatko to make the score 24-21 at the break. After a 38-yard field goal by DeSantis early in the third quarter, the Rams' Jamaal Hunte scored touchdowns on runs of five and 20 yards to give Fordham a 35-27 lead with just under 14 minutes to play in the game. But with 4:45 remaining, Silva scored on a 14-yard pass from O'Neil, then Gruber caught a pass from Silva for the two-point conversion to tie the score at 35-35. On Fordham's next possession, Obi Green recovered a fumble on the Rams' 37-yard line, giving Holy Cross a chance to take the lead. But the Crusaders were unable to move the ball and had to punt, and the game appeared to be headed for overtime. But with only 11 seconds remaining, Fordham's Derric Daniels threw a 42-yard touchdown pass to Mike Melvin for the winning score.

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 eight games so far this year, O'Neil has completed 135 of 241 attempts for 1,410 yards and 11 touchdowns with just two interceptions, in addition to catching two touchdown passes. Last week against Colgate, O'Neil completed 21 of 38 passes for a season-high 252 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a good game at Delaware, when he connected on 17 of 32 attempts for 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 544 of 974 passes for 6,006 yards and 48 touchdowns, becoming only the third player in school history to throw for 6,000 career yards. O'Neil is currently ranked third all-time at Holy Cross in career passing yards, touchdown passes, completions and attempts, while standing fourth in completion percentage (55.9) and yards of total offense (6,463). He needs 590 more passing yards this season to join Tom Ciaccio (1989-1991) and Jeff Wiley (1986-1988) as the only Crusaders to throw of over 2,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.

Crusaders Look For Winning Record
With a victory over Fordham this week, Holy Cross would guarantee that it would finish the 2005 season with a winning record. The Crusaders currently stand 5-3 overall and 2-1 in the Patriot League with three 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.

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. Last week against Colgate, he had five tackles with a fumble recovery and a pass breakup. Previously 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 eight games on the year, he leads the team with three interceptions and 53 interception return yards. Gough also ranks third on the squad with 36 tackles, including 33 solo stops, and has three pass breakups. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Gough has now totaled 84 tackles, four interceptions and 11 pass breakups.

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.

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, made seven tackles against Colgate, and recording four tackles and a sack against Dartmouth. On the year, he ranks second on the team with 56 total tackles, including 48 solo stops and a team-best six tackles for loss. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Nielsen now has 78 total tackles, 66 solo tackles and eight tackles for loss.

Silva Has Record Setting Day
Walter Payton Award candidate Steve Silva set three school records during the 28-16 victory over Dartmouth on Oct. 15. 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 three games remaining in the 2005 regular season, Silva needs 503 all-purpose yards to break the Holy Cross single-season record (2,173 by Gordie Lockbaum in 1987), and 536 all-purpose yards to break the school career record (5,226 by Ari Confesor from 2000-2003).

Defense Stepping Up In 2005
The Holy Cross defense is much improved this season, and has held four of its first eight opponents under 20 points scored. In the victory over 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 389.4 yards and 20.6 points per contest, including games against Lehigh (which averages 34.9 points and 400.9 yards per game), Delaware (27.4 points and 384.1 yards per game) and Harvard (25.7 points and 401.8 yards per game). In addition, the Crusaders have forced a total of 18 turnovers on the season, with nine interceptions and nine fumble recoveries. Last year, Holy Cross allowed its opponents to average 33.4 points and 412.0 yards per game.

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 342-160-27 (.672). 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 14-18 at home. Holy Cross has a 3-2 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 one more contest at home this year.

Offense Looking Impressive In 2005
The Crusader offense has put up some big numbers in the first eight games of the 2005 season. So far this year, Holy Cross has averaged 28.1 points, 17.6 first downs and 320.2 yards of total offense per contest. Holy Cross has also avoided turnovers so far in 2005, as the Crusaders have only given the ball away five times this season. In 265 passing attempts so far this year, Holy Cross has thrown only two interceptions, while in 277 rushing attempts they have lost just three 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).

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. 22. Steve Silva leads the nation in both all-purpose yards and punt returns, while Dan Adams leads the country in solo tackles. The rankings:

 

Category            Rank  Player/Team      Avg.
All-Purpose Yards      1  
Steve Silva     208.9
Punt Returns           1  
Steve Silva      19.5
                       2  Holy Cross       17.6
Solo Tackles           1  
Dan Adams         8.9
                      15  
Chris Nielsen     6.0
Turnovers Lost         1  Holy Cross        0.6
Turnover Margin        2  Holy Cross       +1.6
Fewest Penalties       6  Holy Cross        4.4
Receptions            10  
Steve Silva       6.5
Kickoff Returns       11  
Steve Silva      26.1
                      27  Holy Cross       21.4
Fewest Penalty Yards  15  Holy Cross       41.0
Turnovers Caused      20  Holy Cross        2.3
Scoring               21  
Steve Silva       8.3
Total Tackles         29  
Dan Adams        10.0
Scoring Defense       30  Holy Cross       20.6
Completions           32  
John O'Neil      16.9
Interceptions         48  
Casey Gough       0.4
Total Offense         50  
John O'Neil     190.6

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. 22. Senior tailback Steve Silva ranks first in the conference in all-purpose yards (208.9 yards/game), first in receptions (6.5 catches/game), first in punt returns (19.5 yards/return), second in scoring (8.2 points/game), second in kickoff returns (26.1 yards/return) and fourth in rushing (76.1 yards/game), while senior quarterback John O'Neil stands third in passing efficiency (118.6 rating), third in passing yards (176.2 yards/game) and third in total offense (190.6 yards/game). In addition, senior wide receiver Sean Gruber ranks third in receiving yards (57.6 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 (36.2 yards/punt). As a team, Holy Cross leads the league in turnover margin (+1.6 turnovers/game) and punt returns (17.6 yards/return); stands second in scoring offense (280.1 points/game), passing offense (193.4 yards/game), pass efficiency (122.1 rating), kickoff returns (21.4 yards/return) and net punting (32.8 yards/punt); and ranks third in scoring defense (20.6 points/game) and pass efficiency defense (123.8 rating).

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 8-11, as the Crusaders have won eight of his last 13 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 561-452-54, 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.

Scouting The Rams
Fordham enters this week's game with an overall record of 0-7 and an 0-3 mark in the Patriot League. The Rams are off to their worst start since 1999, when they posted an overall record of 0-11. The Fordham offense is led by junior quarterback Derric Daniels, who has completed 91 of 178 passes for 945 yards with four touchdowns and nine interceptions. Senior tailback James Prydatko is also enjoying a fine year, rushing for 604 yards and four scores on 153 carries. Senior linebacker Marcus Taylor has 79 tackles, four tackles for loss and two forced fumbles to lead the Ram defense. Ed Foley is now in his second season as Fordham's head coach, and has posted an overall record of 5-13. Foley served as the Rams' offensive coordinator before taking over as head coach, and also spent time as an assistant at Jacksonville, Pennsylvania, Williams and Albany.

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'.

Quick Hits
Senior running back Gideon Akande (Chicago, Ill.), senior quarterback John O'Neil and senior tailback Steve Silva are serving as Holy Cross' tri-captains this season. Silva, who was also a co-captain in 2004, is only the ninth player in school history to serve as a captain for more than one season ... 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 Crusader offense has scored points on 25 of its 28 trips into the red zone this season, with 22 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).