By Ben Lepper ‘25
This past Sunday, the Holy Cross Crusaders and the Lafayette Leopards met in what will most likely be the final football game played at Fitton Field in 2021. The Crusaders came in with a 6-2 record, coming off a “sloppy win” against Lehigh, as head coach Bob Chesney would later describe it. The visiting Leopards, meanwhile, came in touting a 3-5 record and were coming off of a close victory versus Georgetown. Both teams had great momentum coming in. Lafayette, in particular, had two extremely intriguing players who were having strong seasons: DT Malik Hamm, arguably the Patriot League’s best defensive lineman, and QB Ah-Shaun Davis, a freshman QB prodigy who entered the game with a 63.7% completion percentage, good for best in the Patriot League. Holy Cross, meanwhile, were eager to prove that their previous week was just a fluke.
Unfortunately for Lafayette, it appears that their victory may have been a fluke. The Holy Cross offense and defense had their way with them all game, leading the Crusaders to a 35-10 victory. Malik Hamm was mostly silenced due to an excellent performance by the offensive line, and Ah-Shaun Davis had pressure on him for almost all of the game. The Crusaders put their foot on the gas and never let it off. Jordan Fuller scored the only points of the first quarter, running in for a 1 yard touchdown. Then, in the second quarter, John Smith made an incredible interception deep in Holy Cross territory. Emotions began to run high after this, as Lafayette’s Damon Washington threw Holy Cross’ C.J. Hanson to the ground, ripping his helmet off in the process, and causing a 15 yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Of course, this got the entirety of Sader Nation fired up– fans and players alike. It went from lopsided to a beatdown after this.
The final stats should speak for themselves, and if there’s one player’s stats that tell the game’s story, it’s those of Ayir Asante. The speedy junior caught nine passes for 137 yards and three touchdowns. In fact, nine different receivers caught passes for the Crusaders during the game, including freshman tight end Jacob Petersen, who played as a starter for most of the game. The Crusaders also achieved success on the ground– Peter Oliver rushed 18 times for 105 yards, and Tyler Purdy also had a successful game, rushing 11 times for 58 yards. The quarterback play was spectacular – Matt Sluka completed 6/11 passes for 97 yards and a touchdown, adding 61 yards and a score on the ground, while Marco Seiderman went 18/23 for 173 yards, two touchdowns, and an interception. Overall, the Crusader offense exploded for 517 yards, while the sputtering Leopards only managed 171, much of it coming after Holy Cross pulled their defensive starters.
Speaking of defensive starters, they were performing at a similar level. Jacob Dobbs led the day once again, recording a sack and eight total tackles. The entire Holy Cross front seven was clicking; Dobbs, Jake Reichwein, Jason Modak, Benton Whitley, and Dan Kuznetzov all recorded sacks as well. Jonathan Young and Terrell Prince, who are both defensive backs, also got in on bringing down Lafayette’s QB. Ah-Shaun Davis was constantly running for his life and his line couldn’t protect him, and after being sacked in the fourth quarter by Young, he got up and walked gingerly to the sideline.
Also on the injury front, Holy Cross sustained a couple of major ones. Team captain Nick Olsofka went down with a left leg injury early in the game and Cristos Argys went down hard late in the game. Both would not return, and the severity of both injuries is unknown at press time. You have to hope they’ll be okay, as the Crusaders have their biggest game of the year this coming weekend: Fordham. If the Crusaders win that game, then the Patriot League championship is theirs, and players on the team are thinking of it as a championship game. The energy at Fitton Field last weekend was championship energy; if the Crusaders bring that energy to Fordham, there’s a good shot that the Patriot League runs through Worcester once again.