October 1, 2005

Fourth-Quarter Comeback Falls Short in 22-19 Loss to Holy Cross

Oct. 1, 2005

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New Haven, CT - Holy Cross cornerback Casey Gough had an interception, blocked an extra point, and added a safety to help the Crusaders to a 22-19 win over Yale Saturday afternoon at the Yale Bowl. The Bulldogs put together a late comeback attempt, scoring 19 points in the final 10:09, but an 84-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Holy Cross' Steve Silva with 4 minutes to play put the game out of reach.

The Crusaders (3-2) scored on their opening drive, going 70 yards in 13 plays for a 24-yard Mike DeSantis field goal. The Bulldogs' first two drives ended in punts and their third began at their own two. Two plays into that drive, an attempted reverse in the end zone ended with TB Jordan Spence surrounded by Holy Cross defenders and brought down by Gough for two points.

The reverse worked much better when Holy Cross executed it from the Yale 9 early in the second quarter, as WR Sean Gruber took the ball in for the touchdown and a 12-0 lead. Yale had a chance to cut into the lead just before halftime, as a 17-yard pass from QB Jeff Mroz (33-56, 333 yards, 2 TD, 2 INT) to WR Ashley Wright (11 catches, 115 yards) got the ball out from Yale's own doorstep, and a 15-yard completion to WR Todd Feiereisen got the ball to the Crusader 33 with 26 seconds left to play. But Mroz' next pass was intercepted by Tyler Nugent, and the Bulldogs remained scoreless.

Yale (1-2, 1-0 Ivy) appeared to be ready to get itself back in the game with a drive near the end of the third quarter that featured two key third-down conversions - one on a six-yard pass to Wright and one on a two-yard run by TB Mike McLeod. Add in a 17-yard gain on a short pass to Wright with a big block from Feiereisen, and the Bulldogs seemed to be making the plays when needed. But on fourth-and-one from the four, McLeod took the toss left, was swarmed in the backfield and had no chance to even get back to the line of scrimmage. The Crusaders took over at their own eight.

The Yale defense came up with the stop there, as a sack by DL Kirk Porter helped end the Crusader drive with a punt from their 17. But on the first play of Yale's drive Mroz was intercepted again, this time by Gough.

Yale finally got into the end zone at 10:09 of the fourth quarter, when McLeod pushed his was in from one yard out. But Gough made his presence known on the extra point, blocking it to ensure that Yale still could not tie the game with another score.

The Bulldog defense made the stop it needed to when CB Andrew Butler knocked Gruber out of bounds at the Holy Cross 39, just before reaching the first-down marker on the next drive. WR William Blodgett's first career touchdown reception with 4:18 to play gave Yale momentary hope, but that hope was immediately erased when Steve Silva returned the kickoff for a touchdown.

"The bottom line is, their best player beat us," said Jack Siedlecki, Yale's Joel E. Smilow '54 Head Coach of Football of Silva, who ran for 92 yards on the day on 18 carries. "He made the biggest play of the game, and he beat us."

Yale's next drive ended with an incomplete pass on fourth down at the Holy Cross 35 with two minutes to play. The Bulldogs would finish with 304 yards of offense for the half but little to show for it.

"We moved the ball, we just didn't put it in the end zone," Mroz said.

After a defensive stand Yale managed a last-second 41-yard Hail Mary touchdown to WR Chris Denny-Brown, but there was no time left on the clock after that and thus not even a need for Yale to attempt the extra point.

The win is Holy Cross' first over Yale in the teams' last 12 meetings, dating to 1982.

The Bulldogs return to action next Saturday, hosting Dartmouth at 1:00 p.m.

report by Sam Rubin '95 (sam.rubin@yale.edu), Yale Sports Publicity