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Holy Cross 37, Colgate 7

HC brushes up on game

Colgate is no match for the Crusaders

By Jennifer Toland
Worcester Telegram & Gazette / September 11, 2011

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WORCESTER - When Holy Cross linebacker Jimmy Thomas picked off Colgate quarterback Gavin McCarney on the first play of yesterday’s fourth quarter, he was thinking one thing.

“I better get in the end zone,’’ Thomas said.

Thomas, with the help of several blocks, did get there, returning his first career interception 60 yards for a touchdown. The play capped an excellent effort by the senior, who made 10 tackles, and the rest of the Holy Cross defense.

The Crusaders shut out Colgate until 9:54 remained, and senior quarterback Ryan Taggart threw a pair of touchdown passes and ran for another score as the Purple beat up their Patriot League foe, 37-7, at Fitton Field.

Holy Cross (1-1, 1-0) has won three straight and four of the last five against Colgate (1-1, 0-1).

“This was a major shot in the arm for us,’’ said Holy Cross coach Tom Gilmore, whose team fell, 24-16, to UMass in last week’s opener. “We had a game last week we coulda, shoulda, woulda won, and we didn’t, and you’re not sure how good you are. To come out against a team that’s always in the top two or three in our league and have a sizable victory like this, it’s obviously a great confidence builder.’’

Colgate senior tailback Nate Eachus finished with 96 yards on 25 carries, but the Crusaders - keyed by defensive linemen Jack Maliska and Ryan McGinn - prevented Eachus from getting into a rhythm early, holding him to 8 rushing yards in the first quarter.

McCarney, a sophomore, broke off a 48-yard run during Colgate’s first series and picked up several first downs with his legs in the first half, but failed to get the Raiders into the end zone on their first two trips inside the red zone. McCarney carried 16 times for 97 yards and completed 16 of 26 passes for 125 yards.

Colgate was 6 for 14 on third-down conversions and 1 for 5 on fourth down.

Late in the second quarter, Thomas and senior linebacker Ricky Otis combined to stop Eachus on fourth and 4 from the Holy Cross 9.

Earlier in the second, with the Raiders inside the Holy Cross 30, junior safety Tom Mannix and junior linebacker Roman SanDoval sacked McCarney, and on fourth and 12 from the 27 senior cornerback Chandler Fenner broke up McCarney’s pass into the end zone.

The Crusaders led, 16-0, at halftime, and added to their advantage with a TD drive to start the third quarter.

“Once we got up on them, they had to start throwing the ball and do some things where they were trying to get some long gainers,’’ said Gilmore. “Their normal game plan is patience, and they couldn’t afford to do that today.’’

After rushing for just 75 yards against UMass, the Crusaders made a concerted effort to be more balanced yesterday.

Sophomore running back Reggie Woods set the tone early, carrying five times for 28 yards and setting up a field goal on Holy Cross’s first possession. Led by Woods (15 carries, 60 yards) and junior Eddie Houghton (five carries, 58 yards), the Crusaders totaled 180 rushing yards, more than in any game last season.

“We just kept busting runs and it takes a lot off me and a lot off the receivers,’’ Taggart said. “It’s great to know we can do it and we can still improve from here.’’

Taggart, who threw 44 times against the Minutemen, was an efficient 13 of 16 for 223 yards.

“The offensive line did great moving people around and blocking,’’ Taggart said. “I don’t think I got hit besides the times that I ran [the ball].’’

Taggart completed TD passes to Charles McCall and Kyle Toulouse. The Crusaders did not punt in the game.