Oct. 25, 2008
By Phil Landry
Athletic Media Relations Student Assistant
With experienced tailbacks Terrance Gass and Mike Kielt roaming Holy Cross' backfield, the Crusaders have been able to use a potent running game to manage their offense. As seniors, Gass and Kielt provide leadership both on and off the field to guide their team to success. Though their running styles differ, both players have the common goal of a winning season and a Patriot League Championship title.
Originally from Sicklerville, N.J., Gass has found that college football is an entirely different game than what he experienced in high school. "The speed of the game and the competition are the biggest differences. In high school, you might have people who do not go to workouts or are not as strong, but in college, everyone is working out and everyone is strong. You are always going against top level competition," said Gass.
Gass has found that in order to find success on the collegiate level, he must be willing to work hard. "It was a big adjustment going into college especially because I am not the biggest player on the field -- for the most part, everyone is bigger than me," he continued. "I have to play bigger than my size just so I can manage against them."
Gass' statistics are evidence of the hard work he has put in to improve his game. Last season, he led the team in rushing with 563 yards and six touchdowns on 101 carries. He also caught 27 passes for 318 yards and four touchdowns while ranking fourth in the Patriot League in both rushing yards and scoring. His performance earned him second team All-Patriot League honors.
Picking up where he left off last season, Gass is already giving headaches to opposing defenses. He has run for 245 yards and a team-best five touchdowns. Because of his hard work, Gass' teammates are not surprised with the success he has had. "Going into his junior year and this year, his work ethic over the summer to get himself ready for the seasons has been outstanding. He really brought himself into shape and it showed last year with the season he had," said Kielt.
Gass embraces his responsibility that goes along with being the team's top rusher. "You know you have to make plays for your team. You have to work together with your teammates in order to win, especially being an offensive guy," continued Gass. "That is my job as a running back. I have to do everything in my power to make a big play and get in the end zone so my team can come out victorious in every game."
Big plays have been commonplace when it comes to Gass running the football. "He has become the playmaker out of the both of us," said Kielt. "He is the guy that when the team needs a big play he is going to make it for us. He is fast, makes cuts and makes people look silly out there. He is just an all around great player."
With an eye on the team's goals, Gass does not let his personal ambitions get in the way of what is best for the team. "As a running back, you want to rush for 1,000 yards and score multiple touchdowns, but you play your role for the team. You have to do whatever you can to get the win. My first and foremost goal is to win a Patriot League Championship and go to the NCAA Playoffs."
Kielt holds the same aspirations as Gass. "The biggest goal which we have set from day one is to win a Patriot League Championship so we can go to the playoffs. Offensively, we just want to go out there and score points and show people what we can do."
Kielt has also been a big part of that Crusader offense. As Gass states, he brings a lot more to the table than just rushing yards. "He knocks people out and is a very hard hitter. When you look at him on the field you might not think so, but when you go against him all you can say is `that kid is a great player,'" continued Gass. "He is tough, physical, and he will wear you out and come after you all game." If Gass is the more finesse playmaker, Kielt is the power runner. "He is more the type to put his shoulder down and run you over," said Gass.
While watching Kielt punish opposing defenders, it is hard to imagine the Southbury, Conn., native was once tentative on the field. "I started playing football in fifth grade Pop Warner. At first I was a little timid because I had come from playing soccer, but after a few years I started to really enjoy it," said Kielt.
Regarded as one of the hardest workers on the team, Kielt found early success running the ball for the Crusaders' offense. In only his sophomore year, Kielt led the Crusaders in rushing with 524 yards and six touchdowns on 108 carries. With Gass out last week, Kielt had to handle the load on his own. He responded by running for 120 yards and three touchdowns, and catching five passes for 70 yards and another score. He now leads the team in rushing yards on the year with 334.
Both seniors consider Gilmore to be one of the main reasons they have improved over their four years at Holy Cross. "He is a really good guy who instills doing the work and doing it as hard as you can. He is really intense and is not afraid to get in your face and let you know if you are not doing things right. He really wants to make you work harder," said Kielt.
"He is a tough coach in a good sense," said Gass. "He has made me mentally strong as an individual so that any challenge, not just the ones I face on the football field, I will know how to handle because of the toughness he instilled in me."
As leaders of the offense, both Kielt and Gass look to finish out the season strong. "We are really looking forward to getting further into league play and showing people that we are one of the better teams in this league," said Kielt.
"We know we need to play more together as a team for 60 minutes as far as an offense and defense is concerned," continued Gass. "If both sides of the ball are playing to our potential at the same time, we feel like no one can stop us."