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Brown lost in Holy Cross' purple hole
HC’s defense stuffs the Bears.
Holy Cross senior wide receiver Bill Edger caught two touchdown passes, but he wasn’t taking any credit for yesterday’s 17-13 victory over Brown University at Fitton Field.
“Our defense was tremendous,” Edger said. “They won the game for us.”
Indeed, HC’s defense came up with several huge plays, including junior Ryan McGinn’s stop of Brown quarterback Patrick Donnelly on fourth-and-goal from the 4-yard line with 7:40 left, and senior safety Alex Johnson’s interception with just under five minutes to play.
“We talked this week about being really aggressive,” Holy Cross coach Tom Gilmore said, “and I think when we played aggressively, good things happened.”
The Crusaders shut out Brown in the second half, prevented the Bears from converting on fourth down (0 for 4), and for the first time this season held an opponent to under 100 yards rushing.
It was HC’s 13th straight win at Fitton Field. After dropping three straight, Holy Cross has won back-to-back games to even its record at 3-3.
“We’ve been talking about improvement for three weeks now,” Gilmore said, “and we feel like we’re still making it. We’re not there yet, but to win these last two games during the process is a really good feeling.”
Yesterday’s game was definitely different than the previous four HC-Brown meetings, all shootouts in which neither team scored fewer than 30 points.
The Bears (2-2) pummeled Harvard the week after the Crimson did the same to HC. Last week, Brown fell to Rhode Island in overtime and lost senior quarterback Kyle Newhall-Caballero for the season. Newhall-Caballero, a first-team All-Ivy selection in 2009, suffered a broken wrist on the last play of regulation. Newhall-Caballero, who broke his hand in August, was making his first start of the year against URI.
Senior quarterback Joe Springer, who started Brown’s first two games, resumed the starting reins yesterday, but played just the first quarter before giving way to sophomore Patrick Donnelly.
Brown’s first quarter included a pair of three-and-outs, a four-and-out and 24 yards of offense. HC senior quarterback Ryan Taggart’s 12-yard touchdown pass to Edger in the opening seconds of the second quarter gave the Crusaders a 10-0 lead.
As in last week’s game against Fordham, Taggart (19 of 29, 196 yards) and junior quarterback Kevin Watson (12 of 18, 135) alternated series.
Donnelly gave the Bears a spark, answering Edger’s first TD by leading Brown on a nine-play, 76-yard scoring drive that finished with Mark Kachmer’s 5-yard run.
HC sophomore Jack Maliska of Winchendon blocked Alexander Norocea’s extra-point attempt. Maliska left the game in the third quarter after suffering a knee injury. Gilmore said the injury doesn’t appear to be serious.
Donnelly guided another long drive late in the second quarter and hooked up with wide receiver Tellef Lundevall for a 7-yard TD as Brown took a 13-10 halftime lead.
Donnelly finished 23 of 40 for 217 yards and also picked up some big yardage on several scrambles.
Holy Cross blew a major scoring opportunity in the third quarter when Johnson came hard at Brown punter Nathan Lovett, forcing him to tuck the ball and try to make a run for it. HC junior Chandler Fenner tackled Lovett at the Brown 13, but the Crusaders couldn’t find the end zone and HC’s kicking woes continued as Rob Dornfried missed a 25-yard field goal.
HC made good on its next possession as Taggart picked up a first down on a quarterback draw, then hit senior Luke Chmielinski for a 34-yard completion to set up Edger’s team-leading fifth touchdown of the season. Against Brown’s man defense, Edger ran a slant across the middle and was wide open in the end zone.
With 13:18 left, Brown started on a crazy, 14-play possession that was helped along by one of Donnelly’s scrambles and three Holy Cross penalties (pass interference, two personal fouls). Brown finally had first-and-goal from the 8, but after a 4-yard gain by Kachmer, the Bears were stuffed on three straight plays by senior Mude Ohimor, Johnson and McGinn.
“We knew we had to stop them because we allowed them to continue that drive by our lack of discipline,” Ohimor said.
After Johnson’s interception and a block-in-the-back penalty during his 29-yard return, HC moved to the Brown 12, but on fourth-and-2 was unable to pick up one last first down to run out the clock.
The Bears got the ball back with 20 seconds left and no timeouts. Donnelly completed a couple of sideline passes and Brown tried to lateral its way down the field, but was stopped around misdield.
“We’ve got to finish some things,” Gilmore said. “There were some plays I was disappointed in, but you know what? Brown’s a very good football team. You’re not going to have your way with a good football team. You’ve got to compete and win it down at the end, and that’s what we did.”
Brown lost in Holy Cross’ purple hole
By Jennifer Toland, WORCESTER TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF