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Colgate Headed for Playoffs After Comeback Win vs. Holy Cross
The Raiders buckle down in the second half against Holy Cross.
Jordan Scott wiped his eyes and hobbled through the falling snow into the locker room and let out a loud cry of “Yes.”
His Colgate team was in ecstasy, following a 28-27 win over Holy Cross in front of 4,862 fans at Andy Kerr Stadium, to clinch the Patriot League title and an automatic berth in the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs, which begin Saturday.
“It was a little overwhelming,” Scott said of the win. “It all feels better because we won the championship.”
Winning its eighth consecutive game, Colgate (9-2, 5-0) became the first team since 2003 to finish the Patriot League slate undefeated, and will head to the postseason for the first time since 2005. The playoffs brackets will be unveiled this evening.
Scott, Colgate’s all-time leading rusher, had carried the ball only twice in the last three games, after injuring his ankle against Cornell on Oct. 18. He re-emerged in Saturday’s game, following a bye week, and went for 82 yards on 22 carries.
After tweaking his ankle near the end of the third quarter, Scott left the game two carries short of the all-time Division I mark for carries. But there were plenty of other Raiders to fill the offensive void: Nate Eachus rushed for 118 yards, Greg Sullivan threw for 129, and Pat
Simonds caught two touchdowns passes.
“I think our quarterback is underrated, I think we’ve got the best receiver in the league in Simonds, and our two tailbacks are probably the best in the league, in my opinion,” head coach Biddle said.
On the game’s second play from scrimmage, Holy Cross (7-4, 5-1) quarterback Dominic Randolph threw a deep ball down the middle, which found the hands of a wide-open Jon Brock for a 75-yard touchdown pass, stunning the Raiders in the opening seconds. The Crusaders scored touchdowns on each of their first three drives, needing only drives plays from scrimmage to do so.
But Colgate was undeterred, and kept the game from turning into a blowout. Colgate entered the fourth quarter down 27-21, but took the lead for good with 13:02 remaining on a 5-yard run by Eachus.
The ending couldn’t have been more fitting for the 2008 Raiders. Seven of the team’s nine wins have come via fourth-quarter comeback. And it wasn’t unlike Colgate’s regular season, which started at 1-2, but finished with eight straight wins.
“That’s what we’ve been doing all year,” Sullivan said. “It’s not a good thing, but we usually feel it out in the first half, but we’re unbeatable in the second half.”
The turning point came immediately after the second-half kickoff, when Colgate embarked on a 79-yard, 10-minute drive that slowed the game’s pace to one more fitting for the Raiders and kept the Holy Cross offense on the sidelines.
“I think that changed our whole momentum,” Biddle said of the drive. “And our defense played great in the second half.”
The drive was capped off when Simonds caught his second TD of the game on a 10-yard toss from Sullivan.
A key interception midway through the fourth quarter halted a Holy Cross drive at the 11-yard line, and restarted the time-consuming Colgate rushing attack, which proceeded to burn up more than five minutes of clock time before pinning Holy Cross on its own 12-yard line.
The defense took over from there, forcing Holy Cross’ only three-and-out of the game. Following a punt, Colgate was able to take the ball all the way down to the 1-yard line, before taking a knee to run out the clock.
Immediately after Sullivan’s knee hit the ground the Colgate bench and bleachers flooded onto the field in jubilation.
Perhaps nobody was more emotional than Scott. His stats weren’t as gaudy as usual. But after an up-and-down season, which included a suspension to start the year and a nagging ankle injury midway through it, Scott was able to turn in his fourth 1,000 yard rushing season of his career and live to see another game.
“Six months ago, it was a completely different story with me,” Scott said. “This just vindicates all the hard work that I’ve done, my type of personality I couldn’t have done it without my coaches and my teammates.”
Colgate headed for playoffs after comeback win
By Kyle Austin, The Syracuse Post-Standard