John Burke ‘23
The Holy Cross football team opened their shortened season with a 20-3 victory on the road against the Lehigh University Mountain Hawks. With only four opportunities to win games in the Patriot League only season, this victory in Bethlehem, PA was the first step in the journey for the Crusaders to repeat as league champions.
Holy Cross gave up two turnovers early in the contest, but a strong defensive presence was able to keep Lehigh out of the endzone. A fumble recovery later in the first quarter set up the Crusader offense on the Lehigh six-yard line, and Senior quarterback Connor Degenhardt was able to connect with his classmate Dean Nagle for four yards and the first touchdown of the season.
The offense was able to keep the pressure on the Mountain Hawks, and Degenhardt capped off the opening drive of the second quarter with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Sophomore wide receiver Ayir Asante. Junior Kicker Derek Ng was able to nail a 41-yard field goal at the end of the quarter to give the Crusaders a two touchdown lead going into halftime. Late in the third quarter, a botched Lehigh punt was recovered by Senior defensive back Josh Hicks, thus setting up Ng to hit a school record 51-yard field goal.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Crusaders were a brick wall. Lehigh was held to a measly 24 yards on the ground. Junior Dan Kuznetsov and Sophomore Jacob Dobbs led the way with seven tackles apiece, with Kuznetsov contributing a sack and a half as well. Senior Jordan Jackson and Junior Jake Reichwein both contributed five tackles each, as well as combining for an additional 2.5 sacks.
For their efforts, Jackson was named the Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week and Ng was named the Patriot League Special Teams Player of the Week.
Looking forward, the Crusaders look to keep their momentum against Colgate on the road, after their original next matchup against the Fordham Rams has likely been canceled.