Breaking Down the Upcoming Matchup Between Holy Cross and Lehigh
How Did We Get Here?
For those of you who missed out on the announcement last week, One Foot Down “adopted” The Holy Cross Crusaders as our FCS team to follow this Spring. This is 10000% out of bias as I played there for 4 years. HOWEEEEVAAAA, Holy Cross has a devoted following and a storied Catholic history, so the fan bases can definitely co-exist. We invite you to follow along each week and get ready for some good ‘ol fashioned Spring Football!
Holy Cross Crusaders are BACK
We’ve made it folks. The moment you have all been waiting for…..THE College of the Holy Cross Crusaders are FINALLY taking the field this Saturday against their storied rival, the Lehigh University Mountain Hawks. This is the first action for either team this year as FCS scrapped the fall season in favor of Spring this year. Holy Cross will kick off at 11 am CST on ESPN+, where all of the Patriot League games will air this year. This is a HIGHLY anticipated matchup, as a shortened season makes every game matter that much more. And now onto the preview between the Crusaders and the Mountain Hawks.
The Mountain Hawks are led by a legendary beefcake (a term of endearment) of a human in head Coach Tom Gilmore. Coach Gilmore is the toughest man I have ever encountered as he coached me for 4 years at Holy Cross. He is an old school, hard nosed, defensive minded coach who always ends up in tight games. He struggled in his debut season in 2019, finishing 4-7, but the loses were very tight.
Lehigh was picked 4th in the pre-season poll, but returns some talent at WR and TE, with two players earning pre-season All Conference Honors (Jorge Portorreal at WR and Alex Snyder at TE). They have a group of 6 competing for the starting quarterback job, so we will have to wait and see how that shakes out this weekend. An area of concern is definitely their offensive line, which may struggle to keep up with the athletic defensive line and linebacking core from the Crusaders. They will bring a physicality on Defense, but the offensive fire power of Holy Cross should keep them honest. This is definitely a building year for Lehigh, but look for them to showcase a hard-nosed style of Tom Gilmore football.
Holy Cross Preview
Holy Cross is led by a rising star in the coaching world in Bob Chesney. He is young, energetic, and has brought some recruits to Holy Cross that the Crusaders haven’t seen before. He led them to their first Patriot league title in a decade in 2019, and will look to build on that momentum in the shortened 2021 Spring Season.
On offense, the crusaders are led by incumbent starting quarterback, Connor Degenhardt, who will be pressed by Senior Matt Considine, a Wake Forest Transfer. Degenhardt had an up and down year in 2019, but will focus on getting his playmakers the ball and letting them run wild. Those playmakers include WRs Ayir Asante, Tenio Ayeni, Spencer Gilliam, and RB Peter Oliver. They also stand behind a STOUT and beefy offensive line, led by future Duke Blue Devil Brian Foley (he will grad transfer after the season). The defense will also be a strong point, with pre-season all Patriot League picks in DE Benton Whitley, LB Jacob Dobbs, and Safety Joe Lang. Also, look out for ball-hawking CB John Smith to have a dominant year as a a shutdown corner. This is a veteran team who is hungry to repeat as Patriot League Champions.
The amount of time off is inevitably going to contribute to a slow start from both sides. I think Holy Cross settles in with some explosive offensive plays and a stout defense. Look for a 7 point game at halftime, followed by a comfortable win by the Crusaders, who will pull away in the second half. Ayir Asante will top 150 APY and Peter Oliver will have 2 scores. The score I am settling in at is 31-17, with Holy Cross in prime position to take FCS by storm.
Get in on the action and share your score predictions below. Similar to Hot/Cold takes I will share the most accurate, the most “wildly inaccurate” and the most interesting. I know we say GO IRISH, but lets week let’s ring it in with HERE WE GO CROSSSSS!!