|Holy Cross Crusaders football|
|Athletic director||Marcus Blossom|
|Head coach||Bob Chesney |
3rd season, 15–12 (.556)
|All-time record||621–512–55 (.546)|
|Bowl record||0–1 (.000)|
|Playoff appearances||4 (1983, 2009, 2019, 2020)|
|Unclaimed national titles||1 (1987)|
|Conference titles||1986, 1987, 1989, 1990, 1991, 2009, 2019, 2020 (Patriot League)|
|Rivalries||Boston College Eagles Fordham Rams|
|Fight song||Chu! Chu! Rah! Rah!|
|Marching band||Holy Cross Goodtime Marching Band|
The Holy Cross Crusaders football team is the collegiate American football program of the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. The team is a member of the Patriot League, an NCAA Division I conference that participates in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). The team plays its home games at Fitton Field on the college campus.
Football began at Holy Cross in 1884, with games against teams from other schools beginning in 1891. Early home games were played at several off-campus facilities in Worcester, including the Worcester College Grounds, Worcester Agricultural Fairgrounds and the Worcester Oval. The first intercollegiate game played on campus was a 6–0 defeat of Massachusetts Agricultural College on September 26, 1903, on the site of what is now Hanover Insurance Park at Fitton Field. In 1908, the football team moved to its own field adjacent to the baseball field, though both were known as "Fitton Field". Since 1910, the Holy Cross Crusader "Goodtime" Marching Band has performed halftime shows at home football games.
The original Fitton Field was built with wooden and concrete stands. These were replaced with steel stands in 1924 and aluminum seating in 1986. The largest crowd ever to pack Fitton Field was the 27,000 who showed up to see Holy Cross's All-American back Bill Osmanski in his last home game in 1938.
Boston College rivalry
In 1896, Holy Cross and Boston College played the first football game between the two schools, starting the Boston College–Holy Cross football rivalry. For much of the early to mid 20th century, BC and The Cross drew some of New England's largest sports crowds. To accommodate larger crowds, the Holy Cross game was routinely held at a large venue in Boston, with the 1916 matchup taking place at the newly constructed Fenway Park. A record 54,000 attended the 1922 game at Braves Field, home of the Boston Braves baseball team. On November 28, 1942, Holy Cross beat BC in a huge upset 55–12. The game is still the most famous between the two foes, not only for its result (which spoiled BC's undefeated season) but also its aftermath. The Eagles had booked their victory party that night at the popular Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Boston, but canceled after the loss. As a result, the BC team was absent when the club caught fire, killing nearly 500.
But fortune did not always favor the Crusaders, and the series was suspended in 1986 after BC had won 17 games over a 20-year span. After an over three-decade hiatus, the series resumed in 2018 as Holy Cross traveled to Chestnut Hill to take on Boston College. A rematch is scheduled for 2023.
1946 Orange Bowl
In 1946 Holy Cross brought its best team in school history to the Orange Bowl only to feel the heartbreak it had given BC four years earlier. On January 1, 1946, Holy Cross lost a heartbreaker to the University of Miami in its only bowl appearance. With the score tied 6–6 and only seconds remaining in regulation, Holy Cross was intercepted by Miami's Al Hudson, who ran the ball 89 yards for a touchdown. The final score was 13–6.
A glorious decade
In 1969, Holy Cross had to cancel the final eight games of the season when a contaminated faucet on a practice field led to an outbreak of hepatitis. Through the 1970s Holy Cross continued to play major East Coast football powers, but the Crusaders struggled to compete with the bigger schools.
In 1981, the NCAA dropped Holy Cross from the upper tier of football competition to Division I-AA. Holy Cross enjoyed a football renaissance over the next decade under coaches Rick E. Carter (35–19–2) and especially Mark Duffner (60–5–1). In 1983, the team was No. 3 in the nation in I-AA under Carter. Under Duffner, Holy Cross became the nation's most successful I-AA program. There were 11–0 seasons in both 1987 and 1991. Holy Cross won five Colonial League and Patriot League championships, four Lambert Cups, and four ECAC Team of the Year Awards. It also earned the No. 1 ranking in the final 1987 NCAA Division I-AA poll. In 1987 running back/defensive back Gordie Lockbaum finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting after finishing fifth in 1986.
In the midst of these winning seasons, Holy Cross changed the direction of its football program. In 1986 it joined the Colonial League, a football-only conference that adopted the Ivy League model of need-based financial aid and grants rather than formal athletic scholarships. In 1990, the Colonial League became an all-sports conference and changed its name to the Patriot League; over time, it began allowing scholarships in non-football sports (with the recipients ineligible to play football), but continued to prohibit football scholarships through the 2012 season. In 2013, the Patriot League transitioned back to traditional scholarship football.
In 2009, Holy Cross had one of its best teams since the founding of the Patriot League, led by star quarterback Dominic Randolph. The Crusaders won the league title and earned an automatic berth to the FCS playoffs, where they lost in the first round to eventual national champion Villanova.
The Chesney Era
Bob Chesney takes over as Holy Cross head coach in 2018. In his first season the Crusaders win their last 4 games to finish second in the Patriot League. In 2019 the Crusaders won the league title and earned an automatic berth to the FCS playoffs, where they lost in the first round to Monmouth. In a shortened 2021 Spring season the Crusaders went undefeated and won the league title for the second year in a row.
Bowl game appearances
|1945||John DaGrosa||Orange Bowl||Miami||L 6–13|
Division I-AA/FCS Playoffs results
The Crusaders have appeared in the FCS playoffs four times with an overall record of 0–3.
|1983||Quarterfinals||Western Carolina||L 21–28|
|2009||First Round||Villanova||L 28–38|
|2019||First Round||Monmouth||L 27–44|
|2020||First Round||South Dakota State||L 3–31|
Appearances in the final Associated Press poll
Holy Cross has made 39 appearances in the AP Poll since it was introduced for the 1936 season, peaking at No. 9 in 1938. Holy Cross has finished the year ranked in the final Associated Press poll of the season 5 times:
Hall of Fame honors
- George Connor – ex-class of 1948
- Eddie Anderson – coach 1933–1938, 1950–1964
- George Connor – ex-class of 1948
- Ed Healey – ex-class of 1917
- Gordie Lockbaum – class of 1988
- Bill Osmanski – class of 1939
- Bill Swiacki – ex-class of 1945
Future non-conference opponents
Announced schedules as of February 3, 2020.
|at Merrimack||at UConn||at Buffalo||at Boston College||Yale||at Yale||Yale||Central Connecticut||at Central Connecticut|
|Yale||at Yale||Yale||at Yale||at Yale||Yale|
|at Harvard||at Monmouth|
|at Boston College|
- College of the Holy Cross Identity Standards and Guidelines (PDF). Retrieved April 8, 2016.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2011-09-28. Retrieved 2010-05-26.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- "Holy Cross AP Football Poll Summary – College Poll Archive – Historical College Football and Basketball Polls and Rankings". collegepollarchive.com. Retrieved March 31, 2017.
- "Holy Cross Crusaders Football Future Schedules". FBSchedules.com. Retrieved February 3, 2020.
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