Colin Healy ‘25
After an all time classic against Fordham the week before, the Holy Cross Crusaders football team showed up to Fitton Field this past Saturday without missing a beat. The Crusaders took care of a one win Lehigh team with a little more ease than they did against Fordham, winning this contest 42-14. In doing so, the team extended their undefeated season to a 9-0 record. Oh, and they won a fourth straight Patriot League championship. Yeah, that’s right: it’s a four-peat here in Worcester.
Jordan Fuller got the scoring started at the 6:00 mark in the first quarter, taking a handoff from the Lehigh two yard line and barreling into the end zone. HC would hold on to the lead for the entirety of the game. In their first drive of the second quarter, the Crusaders marched 80 yards down the field to tack on their second TD of the day. The eight play drive featured seven run plays, including Peter Oliver’s 1 yard rush for the score. The Crusaders would surrender a Lehigh passing touchdown on the ensuing drive, but went to the locker room at halftime up two scores, thanks to a Matt Sluka TD pass to Spencer Gilliam in the waning seconds of the half.
Coming out of the half, the offense sputtered, with Sluka throwing an interception on the initial drive. Lehigh turned the interception into points two plays later, making the game 21-14 in favor of the Cross. It would be the closest Lehigh would get for the rest of the game as the Crusaders proceeded to put up 21 unanswered points. Sluka made up for his interception by rushing for a touchdown later in the third quarter and Jordan Fuller rushed for two more TD’s of his own. After a goal line stand late in the fourth quarter, the score held at 42-14.
After the clock hit zeros, a sea of purple jerseys rushed onto the field to celebrate. HC clinched at least a share of the Patriot League title with the win, and the team celebrated accordingly. It’s not something they’re not used to, though. This is the fourth season in a row that has ended with HC football bringing home Patriot League hardwood. And for the fourth straight season, the Crusaders are playoff bound.
The four-peat of championships can most definitely be attributed to the program’s direction under head coach Bob Chesney. This is Chesney’s fifth year on the job, which means he’s gone only one season (his first) without winning the Patriot League championship. He has revitalized this program into an FCS powerhouse to the delight of students, alumni, and fans. The team has polled in the top 10 consistently the whole year and to date has an undefeated season. But that does not mean the team can rest on their laurels. Chesney will certainly keep them focused for the finale and playoffs to come.
As for those playoffs, time will tell where the Crusaders end up. There is a good chance that HC will host at least one playoff game, but there is business to take care of first. The team still has two more regular season games, including their final League game against Georgetown where they can clinch the full League championship.
Chesney and the team will pay no mind to their perfect record. What matters is being prepared for each and every opponent week in and week out. It is this attitude that has carried Holy Cross to four straight League championships, and if they are to succeed in the playoffs, the attitude must stay the same. There is no doubt in my mind that Bob Chesney will see to it that this team stays locked in and ready to battle.
Football at Fitton is back to where it belongs. The gridiron Crusaders are performing at a level that is right in line with the rich history of the program, if not higher. HC football is waging bitter fights with all their might. That is what we love so much about being Crusader fans, fighting hard for Holy Cross. So, let’s all stay locked in, players and fans alike, and continue to rally around HC football. Let’s fight hard for Holy Cross!
Image courtesy of Jennifer Toland/Telegram and Gazette