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Under Gilmore, Holy Cross has symbolized success
When you talk about consistency in Patriot League football, the conversation generally begins with Colgate.
Since Dick Biddle took over as coach in Hamilton in 1996 after an 0-11 mark the preceding season, the Raiders have had just one losing season (4-7 in 2006) and finished lower than second in the league just twice.
Since 1997, Colgate has won the league outright or shared the title six times.
But at this point, Holy Cross definitely deserves to be included in any conversation about the Patriot League’s elite.
Former Lehigh defensive coordinator Tom Gilmore has done an extraordinary job with the program.
When he took over in 2004, the Crusaders were coming off a 1-11 season and were suffering through a stretch of 10 losing campaigns over 11 years.
Holy Cross went 3-8 in Gilmore’s first season in 2004 but has since strung together six winning seasons and won the league crown in 2009.
Much of the credit for the Crusaders’ success went to record-breaking quarterback Dominic Randolph, who threw for 117 touchdowns and 13,455 yards from 2006-09.
Randolph was outstanding, but Holy Cross has been able to stay in the league’s upper echelon without him.
The Crusaders went 6-5 last year and have followed that up with a 2-1 start this season with the lone loss coming against mighty UMass.
They have registered back-to-back impressive wins, following up their rout of Colgate with a 30-22 victory over perennial Ivy League power Harvard last week.
Playing its third consecutive home game, Holy Cross scored 27 consecutive points to spin a 14-3 deficit into a 30-14 lead.
Senior quarterback Ryan Taggart had his first career 300-yard passing performance, completing 22 of 35 passes for 320 yards and he also ran 34 yards for a score. He has now thrown 201 consecutive passes without an interception and ranks in the top-20 nationally in both passing yards and total offense per game this season.
But the tough tests are only beginning for Taggart and Holy Cross.
After a bye week, the Crusaders travel to No. 11 ranked New Hampshire on Oct. 1.
They also have two more Ivy League games the following two weeks against Dartmouth and Brown and finally get into the Lehigh Valley portion of their schedule in November, coming to Lehigh on Nov. 5 and welcoming Lafayette to Worcester the following week.
Awards have Easton connection: The Sports Network/Fathead.com FCS National Players of the Week had an Easton connection this week.
The offensive player was Easton High graduate Kyle Harbridge, a junior running back at St. Francis, who rushed for 346 yards and scored five total touchdowns in a wild 50-49 win over Morehead State.
Harbridge had TD runs of 94, 83, 4 and 10 yards while also hauling in a 28-yard pass for a score. Harbridge had 457 all-purpose yards (346 rush, 52 receiving and 59 return yards).
Harbridge leads all Division I running backs (both FBS and FCS) with 541 rushing yards.
The defensive honoree was Lafayette’s senior defensive back Kyle Simmons, who led the Leopards to a 37-12 win at Penn, collecting 15 tackles and two interceptions, including a 31-yard return for a score in the third quarter. His second pick set up the Leopards’ final touchdown.
By Keith Groller, Of The Morning Call