Luke Anthony ‘23
Heading into the final week of the regular season, the Holy Cross football team (6-5 overall, 4-1 Patriot League) is one win away from its first Patriot League title in a decade. The Crusaders currently sit in first place with a 4-1 conference record.
On Nov. 2, HC hosted Lafayette in what would be a four-quarter defensive battle. After a 43-yard field goal from sophomore Derek Ng on the Crusaders’ opening possession, Lafayette responded with a 48-yard strike through the air from first-year quarterback Keegan Shoemaker. Turnovers would limit HC’s offensive production, and its first came in the opening quarter on a fumble recovered at the Crusader’s own 46-yard-line. Taking advantage of great field positioning, Shoemaker delivered a 34-yard touchdown to put HC down 14-3 early. Holy Cross narrowed the deficit in the second quarter as junior quarterback Connor Degenhardt connected with first-year wideout Ayir Asante for a 4-yard touchdown throw and catch. The second half featured a back-and-forth of field goals, with Holy Cross turning the ball over five times on the day. The turnovers were too much to overcome, and Lafayette topped HC 23-20 in Worcester. It was Holy Cross’ first Patriot League loss of the season and temporarily knocked them out of first place.
With a huge opportunity ahead of them, the Crusaders traveled to the Bronx to take on Jesuit rival Fordham. Following a scoreless first quarter, Fordham got on the board first with an 8-yard rushing touchdown from Zach Davis. After back-to-back HC punts, the Rams would score again before halftime on a one-yard pass from quarterback Tim DeMorat. Holy Cross senior running back Domenic Cozier took matters into his own hands, dicing up the Fordham defense en route to a 57-yard touchdown run to open up the second half scoring. As the third quarter was coming to a close, Degenhardt tied the game with a 35-yard touchdown throw to sophomore wide receiver Gilliam Spencer to tie the game up at 14 points apiece.
The Crusaders took over in the fourth quarter, as junior quarterback Matt Considine entered the game. It was Considine’s first game as a Crusader, transferring after two years playing in the ACC for Wake Forest. On his first throw wearing purple and white, the St. Augustine, Fla., native connected with Asante for a 35-yard gain. Cozier strung together two long runs to set up the HC offense on the 3-yard line. With Degenhardt back under center, he would run it in himself for the touchdown to tie the game at 21 with just ten minutes remaining in the game. Considine re-entered the game for HC following a Fordham three-and-out, and led the offense down the field with four completions to bring them down to the Fordham 12-yard line. Cozier racked up his second score of the day on a 12-yard run to give the Crusaders its first lead at 28-21.
After another quick three-and-out forced by the Crusader defense, sophomore running back Peter Oliver took off on a 45-yard touchdown run to blow the game wide open and give HC a 35-21 lead with three minutes remaining. Trying to climb back, Fordham responded with an air attack that resulted in sophomore defensive back John Smith intercepting Fordham’s DeMorat, returning it 42 yards to the house, piling the lead to 42-21 and icing the game. Still fighting, DeMorat would be intercepted again, this time by senior defensive back and captain Chris Riley, who returned it 44 yards to the Fordham 13-yard line. Two plays later, Degenhardt ran it in from four yards out, topping off the offense’s 35 unanswered points in the second half to drown Fordham 49-27.
With a 4-1 Patriot League record, the Crusaders enter the final week of the regular season just one win away from a Patriot League title. A victory would ensure a title, while a loss would put them behind Lafayette in the rankings. Holy Cross will take on Georgetown on Nov. 23 in Worcester, with kickoff scheduled for 12 PM.