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Purple Bursts Colgate Balloon
Holy Cross Avenges Heartbreaker.
WORCESTER — It had been 343 days since Holy Cross’ heartbreaking loss to Colgate in the 2008 season finale, but time did little to wipe that painful memory from the minds of the Crusaders.
“That was probably the worst feeling I ever had in my life,” senior wide receiver Bill Edger said. “We couldn’t let it happen again.”
Colgate beat Holy Cross by a point for last year’s Patriot League title, and while the Crusaders did not win a championship yesterday, they took a giant step in that direction while getting revenge on the Raiders.
Behind senior quarterback Dominic Randolph, who had a hand in all six touchdowns, and an inspired effort by the defense, 22nd-ranked Holy Cross beat No. 17 Colgate, 42-28, before a soggy but delighted crowd at Fitton Field.
The Crusaders (6-1, 2-0) snapped Colgate’s 15-game regular-season winning streak. The Raiders, who had been one of four unbeaten FCS teams, fell to 7-1, 2-1.
Holy Cross shares the top spot in the PL with Lafayette and Lehigh. The Crusaders have four league games remaining, three on the road, including next week at Fordham.
“We can control our own destiny now,” HC coach Tom Gilmore said. “We still have four more championships to go, but had we not gotten the job done against Colgate, even if we won the rest, we’d still have to be hoping. We don’t have to hope, we can take care of business.
“That’s not going to be easy, but by winning this, it puts us in a position where every win will get us that much closer to a Patriot League championship.”
Randolph really took over on offense, completing 20 of 31 passes for 288 yards and four touchdowns while also rushing for a career-high 116 yards and two more scores. He received the Dr. Edward N. Anderson Award as the outstanding player of HC’s Family Weekend game.
Colgate, with talented sophomore running backs Nick Eachus and Jordan McCord and a third running threat in junior quarterback Greg Sullivan, came into the game with the nation’s best rushing offense, averaging more than 273 yards. The Crusaders held the Raiders to 120 yards on the ground and less than 300 yards (296) of total offense. It was the first time this season Colgate didn’t have a 100-yard rusher.
“That’s exciting,” Holy Cross senior linebacker Andrew Cialino said. “That’s a testament to how hard the guys worked this week. It’s good to see that.”
The HC defense couldn’t get Colgate off the field after halftime in last year’s game. The Raiders had the ball for all but about six minutes of the second half. Colgate had the ball for 34:40 yesterday, but Holy Cross came up with several big stops late, and the Crusaders scored on six of 10 possessions.
Edger had nine receptions for 127 yards and scored a touchdown on HC’s opening drive. Randolph set up the score by perfectly placing a 31-yard completion in the hands of a tightly covered Freddie Santana.
Randolph connected with Nick Cole and Santana for TDs later in the half, and the Crusaders led, 28-14, at the break.
Randolph threw three interceptions. The first was returned 37 yards for a touchdown by Coree Moses in the first quarter. The second, by linebacker Zach Smith, set the Raiders up for a nine-play, 55-yard scoring drive that culminated in Sullivan’s 4-yard pass to Nick Cvetic and got Colgate within a touchdown with 6:01 left in the third. Two HC penalties (pass interference, face mask) aided the drive.
HC’s plan was to try and run the ball against Colgate, and Randolph — “He looked like Barry Sanders out there,” Edger said — showed off his aptitude in that area, especially in the second half, rushing for 116 yards. He came within one step of breaking off a long TD run early in the third quarter.
“We knew Colgate was going to do some things to try and take our pass game away,” Gilmore said, “and by doing that, we would have some opportunities to run the football, and we did.”
The Crusaders totaled 440 yards, the sixth time this season they’ve gone over 400.
After Randolph’s second rushing touchdown late in the third, Colgate again closed to within seven points on a 10-yard TD run by Eachus. The Crusaders answered on their next possession with Randolph converting a key third down with a 9-yard completion to Edger, then throwing a 5-yard TD pass to tight end Alex Schneider.
“It’s a huge win and a confidence builder,” Cialino said, “but we know we have four tough games left. We’re going to celebrate (last night), but (today) we start our preparation for Fordham.”
Purple bursts Colgate balloon
By Jennifer Toland, The Worcester Telegram & Gazette