It’s a non-conference game sandwiched between Ivy League matchups, against a team that’s won fewer than 15 percent of its contests against the Elis. On paper, Saturday should be a breeze. But Holy Cross may turn out to be one of the football team’s toughest games of the season.
After last Saturday’s rout against Cornell, the Bulldogs will head to Worcester, Mass., this Saturday to play the Holy Cross Crusaders, a team that it has traditionally dominated. Although the Crusaders beat the Elis 22-19 the last time the two teams faced off in 2005, the Bulldogs hold a 25-4 all-time series lead and had won 11 consecutive contests before their most recent defeat two years ago. The Elis will look to continue their dominance of the Crusaders at their own house as the Bulldogs are undefeated at Fitton Field with a 6-0 record. Although the Elis have history on their side, the game against Holy Cross will be far from a cakewalk.
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“We’re going to try to keep their offense on the bench, because they’re pretty good,” head coach Jack Siedlecki said. “Probably the best quarterback we’re going to face, probably the best core of receivers we’re going to face. They’ve got good speed and they’re going to spread us out.”
The Crusaders dominated Georgetown 55-0 last Saturday, recording their third shutout for head coach Tom Gilmore. Even though the Bulldogs edged out Georgetown 28-14 in their season opener, the Hoyas managed to cut the lead to a single touchdown with 6:08 left in the game. In addition, Georgetown racked up over 190 yards rushing and their quarterback finished the game 27 of 37 for 181 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. In comparison, Holy Cross completely shutdown the Georgetown offense, yielding only 65 yards of total offense and two total first downs.
The opportunistic Crusader defense forced four turnovers against the Hoyas and only gave up 43 yards rushing with a 1.7 yards per carry average. However, the Crusaders failed to record a single sack. If the Bulldogs hope to have success against Holy Cross, they will have to combine an effective passing offense with their impressive rushing attack. If last weekend’s victory against the supposedly aggressive Cornell defense was any indication, the rebuilt offensive line should have no trouble protecting quarterback Matt Polhemus ’08.
“This year, we’ve got three new offensive linemen,” Jeff Monaco ’08 said. “We had to remake the bond we had last year when we had four guys who played together for over a year. During camp we got used to playing together, we learned, we helped each other out it just.”
The Crusader defense is not the only thing the Bulldogs are worried about. The Holy Cross offense was clicking on all cylinders against the Hoyas as junior quarterback Dominic Randolph showed why he is arguably the Patriot League’s best quarterback. Randolph threw for two passing touchdowns finished the game 22 of 33 for 302 yards while also picking up another touchdown on the ground, good enough to earn the Patriot League’s Offensive Player of the Week award. With an emphasis on the big play, the Crusaders will be the first team truly to challenge the Bulldogs vertically this season.
“They’re not a dink-and-dunk team, they’re going to put it down the field,” Siedlecki said. “They’ve got enough speed and enough weapons to do it.”
The Bulldogs’ cornerbacks will have their hands full with senior wide receiver Ryan Maher who finished with 1,092 all-purpose yards last season and was named an honorable mention all-American. However, the Elis feel like they have the talent to slow down the high-powered Crusader offense.
“I came back to the most talented defense we’ve had so far at Yale since I’ve been here,” defensive back Nick Solakian ’08 said. “It’s been really fun.”