Byline: Jennifer Toland
WORCESTER - Holy Cross' hopes of winning the Patriot League title ended with last week's loss at Lehigh, but don't think the Crusaders didn't have plenty to play for in yesterday's home finale against Lafayette.
"We wanted to play for a winning season," HC senior linebacker C.J. Martin said. "We wanted to play our best and we talked about it all week - we want to finish the season strong."
Martin's fourth-quarter interception gave the Crusaders possession at their own 3-yard line and senior quarterback Ryan Taggart took over from there, leading HC on a 97-yard winning drive. Junior running back Eddie Houghton scored the go-ahead touchdown with 1:06 left and the Crusaders held on for an exciting 29-24 win.
Martin, Taggart and their 21 classmates, who were honored in a Senior Day ceremony, made their last game at Fitton Field a memorable one.
"They've worked so hard for four years and showed great attitude and effort," Holy Cross coach Tom Gilmore said. "It's great to see them win a close game like this."
Holy Cross (5-5, 3-2) snapped a two-game losing streak and beat Lafayette (4-6, 1-3) for the fourth straight year. The Crusaders wrap up the season next week at Fordham.
HC looked dead a few times during its final drive. After a penalty, the Crusaders faced a third-and-12 from their own 1-yard line, a third-and-21 from their 30 following an 11-yard sack of Taggart, and a fourth-and-11 from their 41.
The Leopards were flagged for two crucial pass interference penalties (on the third-and-12 and fourth-and-11 plays), which both gave Holy Cross new life, and Taggart connected with junior wide receiver Gerald Mistretta, senior tight end Alex Schneider and sophomore wide receiver Kyle Toulouse to set up Houghton's second touchdown of the day.
"It really opened up for me and I just had to run straight," said Houghton, who rushed 17 times for 68 yards. "When we were back there on the 1-yard line, everyone on offense just kept believing. We got a couple lucky breaks and guys made plays."
Lafayette, behind junior quarterback Andrew Shoop, made its own late run at the end zone. Shoop's 13-yard completion to sophomore Mark Ross got the Leopards to the HC 22, but freshman cornerback Ben Coffaro picked off Shoop's next pass in the end zone to seal the win.
"It's exciting," Martin said. "All the seniors, we'll talk about this for years."
The Holy Cross offense, which managed just one touchdown in each of the last two games, came out...