Byline: Bill Doyle
Holy Cross tri-captain Casey Gough isn't the type to quit easily. The senior defensive back took his SATs five times before he scored high enough to get into HC and he isn't about to give up on the Crusaders' playoff chances even though they lost their Patriot League showdown at Fordham Saturday.
Fordham (8-2, 5-0) secured at least a share of the PL crown as well as the league's automatic berth in the NCAA playoffs with a 24-21 victory so HC and Colgate are left to fight it out for an at-large spot - if the Patriot League is granted one. Patriot League teams have received at-large berths four times - in 2005, 2004, 1999 and 1998, but only one of those teams, Colgate in 1998, didn't share first place in the league.
HC and Colgate are both 6-3 overall and 3-1 in the league and must win their final two games to remain in the playoff picture. They'll meet a week from tomorrow at Fitton Field. Tomorrow, HC hosts Lafayette (5-4, 2-2) at noon and Colgate visits Georgetown (1-9, 1-4). CSTV will join the HC-Lafayette game live in progress at 1 p.m.
All three of HC's losses came to ranked teams, No. 8 UMass, No. 12 Yale and No. 22 Fordham. The Crusaders played UMass (40-30) and Fordham (24-21) tough on the road, but got blown out by Yale at home (38-17).
On the other hand, only one of HC's victories, against 6-2 Harvard, came over a team which currently owns a winning record. The Crusaders also defeated Georgetown, Lehigh, Bucknell, Brown and Dartmouth, which are a combined 13-31 (.295). By beating Lafayette and Colgate, the Crusaders could end up with two more victories over teams with winning records.
"We're not looking past Lafayette or Colgate," Gough said, "but I think with the people we've played and lost to, Yale, UMass and Fordham, and the quality wins we had - a lot of games we've won by 20 or 30 points - I think we have a serious argument.
"I think we're a playoff contention team and if we got a shot that we would prove that to everyone in the country."
The Crusaders or Red Raiders could grab a share of the PL crown if they win their final two games and Fordham loses its season finale at home against Bucknell a week from tomorrow. Fordham, off this weekend, would still keep the automatic playoff berth by virtue of beating HC and Colgate.
Only 16 teams are selected for the NCAA playoffs, so HC needs other teams on the bubble to lose. It would help the Crusaders Saturday if 7-2 Norfolk State loses at 8-1 Delaware State, 6-3...