Colin Healy ‘25
You could not have asked for a better day to celebrate Homecoming. A beautiful October Saturday in Worcester saw College of the Holy Cross, ranked 24th in the FCS national rankings, take on Harvard in a gridiron showdown. The visiting Crimson were happy to spoil the festivities for the students and alumni who packed Fitton Field, however, running away with a 38-13 victory.
A win last week over nationally ranked Monmouth propelled the Crusaders into the national rankings for the second time this season, but an unphased Harvard squad came ready to play. The Crimson drew first blood on their first possession of the game, with QB Jake Smith hitting Kym Wimberly for a 29 yard TD off a screen pass. Another score after a series of punts saw Harvard double their lead to make it 14-0 early in the second quarter.
Looking to bounce back, the Crusaders took over on Harvard’s 48 yard line thanks to a big kick return from Justin Shorter. The first play from scrimmage, however, saw Crimson CB Khalil Dawsey intercept QB Matt Sluka on a tipped pass, with Dawsey returning it for a TD. In a flash, Harvard went up 21-0 with 13:47 left in the second quarter. The Crusaders’ sloppy first half continued with a missed 46 yard field goal and two punts. Harvard added a field goal to take a 24-0 lead into the locker rooms.
Hoping to use the break to their advantage, Holy Cross came out with some fire to open the second half. A reverse end around 59 yard TD run by Ayir Asante put HC on the board early in the third quarter. HC then dipped into their bag of tricks with a successful onside kick. Despite a three and out drive, Harvard muffed the following punt, giving the Crusaders the ball on the Harvard 10 yard line. Two plays later and the Crusaders found the end zone on a 7 yard keeper by Sluka. The Harvard lead was slashed again, 24-13, and for the first time there was life at Fitton Field.
The comeback stalled though as dropped passes and a fumble halted the HC offense. Harvard TE Adam Shepherd hauled in a 29 yard fade to make it 31-13 with 12:26 left. A Holy Cross turnover on downs and ensuing Harvard touchdown made it 38-13 with 7:42 left, sealing the deal for the Ivy Leaguers from Cambridge.
It was a tough day through the air for HC, with Sluka and fellow QB Marco Siderman going a combined 13/39 for 125 yards and 3 interceptions. A lack of stability kept the Crusaders off balance throughout. Head Coach Bob Chesney said post game, “Everybody made plays last week, and then this week it just seemed like nobody was able to make a play. And I think those extremes are tough to live in those worlds.”
An upcoming bye week for the team will give Chesney’s squad a chance to correct the errors. When asked about the upcoming start of Patriot League play, Junior WR Ayir Asante said, “It’s huge. Every game matters a lot more. These are teams that you play every year, it’s a little bit different, guys that you know. So I’m pretty excited.” Despite the loss, Chesney and Asante made it clear that team morale is still running high.
Headed into their week off, a well rested and rejuvenated Crusader team will take on Georgetown on Oct. 16 at home to begin their Patriot League campaign.