Luke Anthony ’23
For the first time since 2009, the Patriot League football trophy is coming to Worcester. The Holy Cross football team finished 7-6 overall, but its 5-1 record in the Patriot League won the Crusaders the conference title outright and earned them a bid to the NCAA D1 FCS Championship tournament.
On Nov. 23, HC welcomed Georgetown to Fitton Field for the regular-season finale. Georgetown (5-6 overall, 1-5 PL) would be held scoreless for four quarters as Holy Cross dominated both sides of the ball. Senior standout running back Domenic Cozier opened the scoring with his 15-yard rushing touchdown to put the Crusaders ahead 7-0. On the ensuing drive, first-year linebacker Jacob Dobbs, who has been wreaking havoc on opponents’ offenses all season, recorded his second collegiate interception and returned it 56 yards to the house to extend the Crusader lead to 14-0.
While neither side scored in the third quarter, there was plenty of defensive action, including a goal-line stop by the Hoya defense as well as a Walter Reynolds interception for Holy Cross, his second on the year. In the third play of the fourth quarter, Reynolds again took the ball from the Georgetown offense, this time in a forced fumble recovery, and returned it 20 yards. Marching down the field, the Crusaders were forced to settle for a field goal, and sophomore Derek Ng drilled a 21-yarder to extend the lead 17-0.
With just over seven minutes remaining in the game, Cozier racked up his second score of the day, this one from 20 yards out. Down 24-0 late, Georgetown settled into their two-minute drill, but Dobbs again intercepted Hoya quarterback Joseph Brunell to ice the game.
Junior quarterback Connor Degenhardt finished completing ten of 14 passes for 144 yards, while first-year wide receiver Ayir Asante had six catches for 78 yards. Cozier and Dobbs were both recognized by the Patriot League as Offensive and Defensive Players of the Week, respectively. The win officially earned second-year head coach Bob Chesney his first Patriot League title and the school’s first since 2009.
With the Patriot League title, Holy Cross earned an automatic bid the NCAA Division 1 FCS Championship for just the third time in school history. The selection committee paired Holy Cross at Monmouth, the Big South Conference champions, in West Long Branch, NJ. Monmouth (11-3 overall, 6-0 Big South), was riding a nine-game win streak with the winner set to take on perennial powerhouse, No. 2 ranked James Madison.
Monmouth was on the board midway through the first quarter with a 17-yard rushing touchdown from running back Lonnie Moore. Monmouth followed up with back-to-back field goals in the second quarter and another rushing score, this time from Pete Guerriero, to extend the Hawks lead 23-0.
Holy Cross answered with a score of its own on the ensuing drive, with a Derek Mountain 14-yard touchdown catch from junior quarterback Matt Considine. After a Considine interception, the Hawks put in one more field goal before halftime to extend their lead to 26-7.
The Crusader offense wasted no time in their first drive of the second half, going right down the field to the Monmouth 22-yard line. Considine connected with Asante for a 22-yard score. The extra point was blocked, and Holy Cross cut the lead in half, trailing 26-13. Monmouth responded quickly, with Guerriero recording his second score of the day, this time from 34 yards out, as Monmouth lead 34-13. Monmouth would score another field goal before the end of the third to go up 37-13 heading into the last quarter of play.
Fighting for its season, Holy Cross scored early in the fourth quarter with a 14-yard rushing score from Considine to cut the lead to 37-19. Monmouth refused to give any hope and tacked on another touchdown from Guerriero to increase the lead to 44-19. The Crusaders would continue to fight, as Considine connected with senior receiver Jon Jon Roberts for a 4-yard touchdown. Considine added a two-point conversion with a strike to sophomore Jack Jewell. Unfortunately, it was too little too late, and Holy Cross fell 44-27 to end its season.
The historic 2019 campaign would end with 12 Crusaders receiving All-Patriot League honors, including freshmen Asante and Dobbs. Asante led the team with 46 receptions for 671 yards and five touchdowns, and returned 14 kickoffs for 282 yards, while totaling 955 all-purpose yards. Dobbs led the defense with 82 total tackles, including 66 solo stops, seven sacks and 11 tackles for loss. He added three interceptions, three fumble recoveries, a forced fumble and a pass breakup. Cozier was named 2019 Patriot League Player of the Year, and Chesney was named Patriot League Dick Biddle Coach of the Year. Cozier’s 1,050 rushing yards were more than any other player in the league, and his 1,129 all-purpose yards ranked third. Senior quarterback Conor Degenhardt and sophomore running back Peter Oliver received Academic All-Patriot League honors. Congratulations to the Holy Cross football team on an outstanding season. We can’t wait to see you in action in 2020.