Football Heads To Fordham For Key Patriot League Showdown
Oct. 29, 2007
Game Day Quick Facts
The Teams: Holy Cross (6-2, 3-0 PL) vs. Fordham (7-2, 4-0 PL)
Date: November 3, 2007
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.
Series Record: Holy Cross leads, 23-19-2
Last Meeting: Holy Cross 28, Fordham 21; September 30, 2006; Worcester, Mass.
The Series With Fordham
This will be the 45th meeting between the Crusaders and the Rams on the gridiron, with Holy Cross leading the all-time series 23-19-2. The Crusaders posted a 28-21 victory over the Rams in Worcester last season, but prior to that Fordham had won five straight and nine out of 11 meetings. For games played at Jack Coffey Field, Fordham holds a 4-3 advantage with three straight victories. Since Fordham joined the Patriot League prior to the start of the 1990 season, the Rams hold a 9-8 lead in the series. The schools first met on Nov. 8, 1902, with Holy Cross winning 17-0 on the road.
Series Quick Facts
Overall: Holy Cross leads, 23-19-2
In New York: Fordham leads, 10-9-1
At Jack Coffey Field: Fordham leads, 4-3
Current Win Streak: Holy Cross, one game
Tom Gilmore vs. Fordham: 1-2
Tom Masella vs. Holy Cross: 0-1
Holy Cross In Hunt For League Title
The Crusaders enter this week's contest one half game out of first place in the Patriot League with a 3-0 mark in conference games so far this year. Fordham currently stands 4-0 in the league, so the winner of this week's game will own sole possession of first place and be the only remaining unbeaten team in the conference. The Crusaders have won five Patriot League championships in their history (all of them outright), but have not captured the conference title since 1991. Holy Cross also won league titles in 1986, 1987, 1989 and 1990. This season, the Crusaders have won their first three Patriot League games for the eighth time in school history, and the second straight year. During five of the previous seven seasons in which Holy Cross opened Patriot League play 3-0, it went on to win the conference title with an unbeaten league record. Now in their 22nd season of play in the Patriot League, the Crusaders own an all-time record of 63-55 (.534) in conference action.
Offense Continues To Put Up Points
Holy Cross is currently enjoying one of the best offensive seasons in school history. Through eight contests, the Crusaders are currently averaging 40.8 points and 495.4 yards per game. Both of those marks would be the second-best in school history, behind only the undefeated 1987 team which averaged 46.5 points and 552.2 yards per game. Holy Cross has also scored over 40 points in four consecutive games, and five times overall this year. The last time the Crusaders scored at least 40 points in four straight contests came during the 1991 season, when they did it against Brown (42-28), Lehigh (43-42), Lafayette (48-14) and Bucknell (42-6). The school record for most consecutive 40 points games in nine, set in 1987.
Randolph Leads Crusader Offense
Junior quarterback Dominic Randolph (Amelia, Ohio) continues to be an excellent leader for the Holy Cross offense this season. In eight games played this year, Randolph has completed 210 of 340 attempts for 2,607 yards and 23 touchdowns with just five interceptions. In last week's victory at Bucknell, he connected on 30 of 43 attempts for 363 yards and three touchdowns. The previous week at Lehigh, Randolph hit on 22 of 32 passes for 375 yards and three scores. He also had a huge game at Brown, completing 29 of 37 attempts for 404 yards and six touchdowns, while setting new career highs for passing yards and touchdown passes. Two of his scoring passes against Brown came in the fourth quarter, after Brown had come back to tie the score at 34-34. Some of Randolph's other top performances in 2007 came against Dartmouth (24 of 35 for 298 yards and two touchdowns), Georgetown (22 of 33 for 302 yards and two touchdowns), Harvard (29 of 55 for 339 yards and four touchdowns) and Massachusetts (32 of 62 for 296 yards and two scores). Last season, Randolph earned third team All-Northeast Region honors after completing 184 of 299 attempts for 2,237 yards and 19 touchdowns with only six interceptions, despite missing two games due to injury. Over the course of his collegiate career, he has now hit on 394 of 639 passes for 4,844 yards and 42 scores. Still in just his second year as a starter, Randolph already ranks fifth all-time at Holy Cross in career touchdown passes, fifth in career completions, fifth in career passing yards and seventh in career pass attempts, while his career completion percentage (.617) is the best in school history. With three games still remaining in the 2007 regular season, he also stands fourth on the Crusader single season list for touchdown passes (23), fifth for passing yards (2,607), fifth in completions (210) and eighth in passing attempts (340). In addition, his eight career 300-yard passing games are the third most in Holy Cross history.
Maher Makes Big Catches
Senior wide receiver Ryan Maher (Boca Raton, Fla.) continues to show why he is one of the top wide outs in the nation. Through eight games played this year, Maher has totaled a team-best 56 receptions for 678 yards and eight touchdowns. During last week's victory at Bucknell, he posted six catches for 63 yards and a score, in addition to rushing four times for 25 yards and a touchdown. In the previous game at Lehigh, Maher led the team with nine receptions for a career-best 165 yards and a score. Earlier in the season at Brown, he caught six passes for 110 yards and a career-high three touchdowns. Some of Maher's other top performances this season have come against Georgetown (five receptions for 83 yards and a score), Dartmouth (seven receptions for 71 yards and a score), Harvard (nine catches for 75 yards and a touchdown) and Massachusetts (11 receptions for 85 yards). Last year, he led the team and the Patriot League in receiving with 69 catches for 797 yards and six touchdowns. Maher also concluded the 2006 campaign ranked ninth in the country in receptions and 32nd in receiving yards. At the end of the 2006 season, he was named to the All-Patriot League first team and the New England Football Writers All-Star team, in addition to being a second team All-Northeast Region selection. Maher has currently caught a pass in 19 consecutive games, while posting three or more receptions in 16 straight contests. Over the course of his collegiate career, he has now totaled 129 catches for 1,613 yards and 14 touchdowns. Maher currently ranks eighth all-time at Holy Cross in career receptions and ninth in career receiving yards.
Offensive Line Continues Strong Play
The Holy Cross offensive line has been a key reason why the Crusaders rank among the top teams in the nation in both total offense and scoring. The line has paved the way for Holy Cross to run for 159.1 yards per game, while also providing pass protection which has allowed the Crusaders to throw for 336.2 yards per contest. In addition, Holy Cross has allowed only 12 sacks in eight games this year, while attempting 354 passes (just one sack for every 30.5 times the team drops back to pass). Junior Chris Smith (Buffalo, N.Y.) is the starting center for Holy Cross, flanked by junior Chris Poole (Scituate, Mass.) and sophomore Aaron Jones (Springfield, Ohio) at the guard spots, and senior Dan Nolan (Pittsfield, Mass.) and junior Mason Olson (Stockton, Calif.) at the tackle positions. All five of those players have started every game so far this season.
The Last Meeting With The Rams - Holy Cross 28, Fordham 21
Casey Gough recorded six solo tackles, four tackles for loss, a quarterback sack and a key interception to lead the Holy Cross football team to a 28-21 victory over Fordham on September 30, 2006. Following the contest, Gough received the Johnny Turco Memorial Trophy as the Most Valuable Player of Holy Cross' Homecoming game. The Crusaders opened the scoring on their first possession of the game, driving 44 yards on five plays with Terrance Gass scoring the touchdown on a one-yard run. The Rams cut the lead to 7-3 early in the second quarter, when Micah Clukey kicked a 26-yard field goal. Dominic Randolph then threw a pair of touchdown passes later in the second quarter, as Holy Cross built a 21-3 lead. Randolph tossed a 38-yard touchdown pass to Brett McDermott for the first score, then hit Gass with an 11-yard scoring pass. Fordham cut the lead to 21-6 before halftime on a 32-yard field goal by Clukey. The Rams then made the score 21-13 midway through the third quarter with a 46-yard touchdown pass from T.J. Jordan to Richard Rayborn. The Crusaders responded in the fourth quarter, marching 60 yards on eight plays, with Randolph throwing an 18-yard touchdown pass to Jon Brock to make the score 28-13. But Fordham would not go away, as Isiejah Allen returned the ensuing kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown, and the two-point conversion made the score 28-21. The Rams were able to drive deep into Holy Cross territory late in the fourth quarter, before Gough intercepted a pass from Jordan on third and goal. The Crusaders then ran out the majority of time left on clock to secure the win, including a key 48-yard rush by Randolph during the drive. Randolph completed 19 of 27 passes for 263 yards and three touchdowns on the day to lead the Holy Cross offense. Gass also had an outstanding game, rushing for 102 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries, while catching five passes for 56 yards and another score.
Head Coach Tom Gilmore
Tom Gilmore is in his fourth season as head coach at the College of the Holy Cross. Gilmore enters this week's game with an overall record of 22-19, including a 19-11 mark since the beginning of the 2005 season. Last year he led Holy Cross to an overall record of 7-4, including a five-game winning streak (the longest by the Crusaders since the 1991 season). In 2005, 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. Prior to his time at Holy Cross, Gilmore served as an assistant coach at Lehigh (2000-2003), 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 2007 campaign marks the 112th season of Holy Cross football. The Crusaders enter this week's game with an overall record of 575-460-54, good for a .553 winning percentage. Prior to the start of the 2007 season, Holy Cross' 569 all-time victories ranked as the 15th 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 Dominate Turnover Battle
In eight games played so far this season, Holy Cross forced its opponents to commit 19 turnovers, while giving the ball away just eight times. The Crusaders have recovered 13 fumbles on the year, in addition to posting six interceptions. In the Lehigh game, Holy Cross forced a total of six turnovers (three interceptions and three fumbles), good for its most takeaways in a game since Nov. 2, 2002, when Bucknell turned the ball over to the Crusaders six times. Junior cornerback Kyle Mushaweh (Woodbury, Conn.) and junior strong safety Daryl Brown (Stone Mountain, Ga.) are tied for the team lead in interceptions with two each. Both Mushaweh and Brown have also returned an interception for a touchdown this season. Sophomore defensive tackle Alex Carson (Atlanta, Ga.) and senior wide receiver Ryan Maher are tied for the team lead in fumble recoveries with two each (Maher's recoveries came while playing on the punt coverage team). On the offensive side of the ball, the Crusaders have thrown six interceptions and lost just two fumbles. Holy Cross recently had a streak of 297 consecutive offensive plays without a turnover, spanning five games.
Gough Steps Up In The Secondary
Senior cornerback Casey Gough (Hinsdale, Ill.) is once again among the top defensive backs and kickoff returners in the Patriot League this season. Through eight games played so far this year, he has posted 44 total tackles with five tackles for loss, an interception, a forced fumble and four pass breakups, while returning 10 kickoffs for 251 yards. In 11 games during the 2006 season, Gough totaled 54 tackles, eight tackles for loss, three interceptions, seven pass breakups and two forced fumbles. He was also the Crusaders' top kickoff returner, averaging 21.1 yards on 30 returns. Following the conclusion of the 2006 campaign, Gough was named first team All-Patriot League, while earning second team All-Northeast Region honors. He was previously named second team All-Patriot League in 2005, after posting a team-best three interceptions, 45 tackles, three tackles for loss and six pass breakups. Over the course of his Holy Cross career, Gough has now recorded 191 tackles, eight interceptions and 25 pass breakups. He has also totaled 1,621 yards and a touchdown on 64 career kickoff returns, to rank second all-time at Holy Cross in career kickoff return yards and career kickoff return average (25.3 yards per return).
Gass & Kielt Head Up Ground Game
The Crusader offense has displayed a solid rushing attack in 2007, running for 159.1 yards per game with 17 rushing touchdown. Junior tailback Terrance Gass (Sicklerville, N.J.) currently leads the team in rushing with 504 yards and five touchdowns on 77 carries this season, in addition to catching 16 passes for 218 yards and three scores. Gass' top game so far this season came at Bucknell, when he ran for a career-high 125 yards and a touchdown on 12 carries, while catching three passes for 70 yards and another score. Some of his other top performances this year have been against Lehigh (117 yards from scrimmage and two touchdowns), Brown (109 yards from scrimmage with two touchdowns), Dartmouth (12 carries for 76 yards and a score), Harvard (88 yards from scrimmage) and UMass (81 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown). Sophomore tailback Mike Kielt (Southbury, Conn.) is also enjoying a strong season with 353 yards and six scores on 69 carries, to go along with 15 receptions for 141 yards. In the Georgetown game, Kielt led the team with 13 carries for 70 yards and two scores, in addition to catching two passes for 29 yards. His other top games in 2007 have been against Dartmouth (92 yards from scrimmage with a touchdown) and Brown (91 yards from scrimmage).
Holy Cross In The NCAA Statistics
Six Crusaders are currently ranked among the NCAA Division I-AA leaders in various statistical categories, through games of Oct. 27. As a team, Holy Cross stands second in total offense, third in passing yards and fifth in scoring. The rankings:
Category Rank Player/Team Avg. Total Offense 2 Dominic Randolph 337.8 2 Holy Cross 495.4 Passing Yards 2 Dominic Randolph 325.9 3 Holy Cross 336.2 Punt Return Coverage 3 Holy Cross 2.8 Completions 4 Dominic Randolph 26.3 Scoring 5 Holy Cross 40.8 18 Matt Partain 8.9 Third Down Conversions 6 Holy Cross 47.0 Points Responsible For 7 Dominic Randolph 19.5 Fewest Penalty Yards 7 Holy Cross 39.2 Turnover Margin 10 Holy Cross +1.4 Receptions 10 Ryan Maher 7.0 41 Thomas Harrison 5.3 Pass Efficiency 18 Dominic Randolph 145.6 18 Holy Cross 143.5 Fewest Penalties 20 Holy Cross 5.1 Receiving Yards 22 Ryan Maher 84.8 39 Thomas Harrison 73.2 Third Down Defense 24 Holy Cross 34.3 Field Goals 26 Matt Partain 1.3 Kickoff Returns 35 Casey Gough 25.1 Punt Returns 40 Josh Jenkins 9.8
Crusaders Show Outstanding Depth At Wide Receiver
In addition to senior Ryan Maher, Holy Cross has shown that it has a number of other weapons in the passing game, as seven different wide receivers already have receptions this season. Senior wide receiver Thomas Harrison (Wilmington, N.C.) currently ranks second on the team in receiving with 42 catches for 586 yards and six touchdowns. Junior wide out Brett McDermott (Mansfield, Mass.) has added 37 receptions for 503 yards and two scores, while junior wide receiver Jon Brock (Acworth, Ga.) has brought in 29 receptions for 378 yards and two touchdowns. In addition, freshman wide out Josh Jenkins (Maywood, Ill.) has caught six passes for 52 yards, senior wide out Justin Maher (Milford, Conn.) has three receptions for 35 yards and a touchdown and sophomore wide receiver Mike Frawley (Glen Mills, Pa.) had three catches for 15 yards. Last season, eight different Holy Cross wide receivers caught at least one pass.
Partain Gets His Kicks
Junior placekicker Matt Partain (Libertyville, Ill.) is enjoying an outstanding season for the Crusaders. Through eight games played, he has hit 10 of 12 field goal attempts and connected on all 41 of his extra point tries, to lead the team in scoring with 71 points. In the victory at Lehigh, Partain made one field goal and eight extra points, good for the second-most made extra points in school history. Previously against Dartmouth he scored 11 points (five extra points and two field goals), including a 49-yard field goal on the final play of the first half. That kick set a record for the longest field goal in Holy Cross history, breaking the mark of 48 yards set by Billy Young against Lafayette in 1986. Earlier this season, Partain kicked a 40-yard field goal against Yale, and a 37-yarder at Brown. He also scored 12 points in both the Georgetown and Brown games, and his current streak of 41 straight extra points made is the second-longest in school history. Prior to this season, Partain had not attempted any field goals or extra points during his collegiate career, although he did handle kickoff duties for Holy Cross in both 2005 and 2006.
Defense Shuts Out Georgetown
The Holy Cross defense turned in one of its top performances in recent history in the 55-0 shutout victory over Georgetown on Sept. 22. The shutout was the third 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, and the 27-0 victory at Marist on Sept. 23, 2006. In addition, Holy Cross held Georgetown to just 65 yards of total offense and only two first downs. The 65 total yards are the fewest by a Crusader opponent since Columbia had only 65 yards on Nov. 1, 1980, while the two first downs are the lowest-ever known total by an opponent. Since the beginning of the 2004 season, the Crusaders have now held their opposition to under 300 yards of total offense nine times. With the victory over Georgetown, Holy Cross became the first Patriot League team to record a shutout this season. Through the first eight contests of the 2007 campaign, the Crusaders are holding their opponents to 23.6 points, 17.6 first downs and 365.0 yards per game, including just 10.3 points, 10.3 first downs and 221.0 yards per contest against Patriot League competition.
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. 27. Junior quarterback Dominic Randolph currently leads the league in passing yards (325.6 yards/game), total offense (337.8 yards/game) and pass efficiency (145.6 rating). Senior wide out Ryan Maher leads in the league in receptions (7.0 catches/game), while standing second in receiving yards (84.8 yards/game) and fourth in scoring (6.8 points/game). Senior wide receiver Thomas Harrison ranks third in the conference in both receiving yards (73.2 yards/game) and receptions (5.3 catches/game), while junior wide receiver Brett McDermott is fourth in the conference in both receiving yards (62.9 yards/game) and receptions (4.6 catches/game). In addition, junior placekicker Matt Partain ranks first in extra points (100.0 percent), first in field goals (1.3 made/game) and second in scoring (8.9 points/game); junior tailback Terrance Gass stands fourth in rushing (63.0 yards/game) and fifth in scoring (6.0 points/game); freshman wide out Josh Jenkins (Maywood, Ill.) is third in punt returns (9.8 yards/return); and senior cornerback Casey Gough ranks third in kickoff returns (25.1 yards/return). As a team, Holy Cross leads the league in total offense (495.4 yards/game), scoring offense (40.8 points/game), passing offense (336.2 yards/game), turnover margin (+1.4 turnovers/game) and pass efficiency (143.5 rating); while standing third in total defense (365.0 yards/game), rushing defense (169.0 yards/game) punt returns (10.7 yards/return).
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 348-164-27 (.671). 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 20-22 at home, with a 3-1 mark so far in 2007. Last year Holy Cross went 3-2 at Fitton Field, to post its first winning record at home since the 2001 team went 3-2.
Scouting The Rams
Fordham enters this week's game with an overall record of 7-2 and a 4-0 mark in the Patriot League. The Rams have won their last five games, including conference victories over Colgate (34-31), Lehigh (28-18) and Lafayette (34-23). Senior tailback Jonte Coven has led the Fordham offense by rushing for 724 yards and four touchdowns on 142 carries, while freshman tailback Xavier Martin has added 506 yards and scores on 101 carries. Sophomore quarterback John Skelton is also enjoying an outstanding year, completing 149 of 267 attempts for 1,958 yards and 17 touchdowns with seven interceptions. Defensively, the Rams are led by senior linebacker Dominique Owens, who has totaled 67 tackles, seven tackles for loss and two pass breakups so far this season. Head coach Tom Masella is in his second season at the helm of the Fordham program, where he has posted a 10-10 record. 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 On The Radio
All of Holy Cross' games in 2007 will air on WTAG 580 AM, the true sports leader for the city of Worcester. Holy Cross Hall of Famer Bob Fouracre is in his 38th season calling the play-by-play for Holy Cross football, and his 22nd 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, is in his eighth 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 live television during the 2007 season. Here is a look at Holy Cross' television schedule for the 2007 campaign:
Date Opponent Television Outlet Sept. 15 Harvard WCTR-TV3 Sept. 29 Yale CN8 Oct. 13 Dartmouth WCTR-TV3 Oct. 20 Lehigh Service Electric Nov. 10 Lafayette CSTV / Lafayette Sports Network
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'.
Live video streaming of all 2007 Holy Cross home football games will be available over the internet through Crusader All-Access.The package, done in association with College Sports Television Online, is available for a $9.95 monthly subscription. For details on how to sign up for Crusader All-Access, click here.
Senior cornerback Casey Gough, senior free safety Obi Green (The Colony, Texas) and junior quarterback Dominic Randolph are serving as Holy Cross' tri-captains this season ... Junior cornerback Kyle Mushaweh recorded the first two interceptions of his collegiate career in the Lehigh game, returning one of them for a touchdown ... The Crusaders posted a 3-1 mark against Ivy League foes this season, and now stand 8-4 against the Ivy League under Tom Gilmore ... Senior tight end Ryan McGuire (Woburn, Mass.) has seven catches for 58 yards this season, including a 12-yard touchdown reception in the victory over Georgetown ... Sophomore tailback Nick Cole (Tucson, Ariz.) led the team in rushing against Georgetown with 89 yards on 15 carries ... Holy Cross was picked as the No. 25 team in the nation by Street & Smith's 2007 College Football Yearbook, in addition to being selected as the preseason favorite in the Patriot League. The Crusaders were also ranked 25th in the country by Phil Steele's 2007 College Football Preview, which named Holy Cross and Lehigh co-favorites in the conference. Holy Cross was the only Patriot League team ranked in the Top 25 by either publication ... Holy Cross was picked to finish fourth in the 2007 Patriot League preseason poll of head coaches and sports information directors, behind Lafayette, Lehigh and Colgate ... For the first time since joining the Patriot League in 1986, Holy Cross played all of its non-conference games against opponents from New England (Brown, Dartmouth, Harvard, Massachusetts and Yale) ... Holy Cross' victory over Harvard was its first since 2000, and its first over the Crimson at Fitton Field since 1992.