Raider Football Runs Over Crusaders

For the Colgate football team, every game seems to come down to the fourth quarter. Last Saturday’s match-up with Holy Cross was no different. Tied with the Crusaders through three quarters, the Raiders dominated the final 15 minutes, scoring 13 points and allowing none on their way to a 27-14 win in Worcester.

The Raiders had two long drives in the fourth quarter, totaling 23 plays and chewing up over nine minutes of clock time, with both drives resulting in field goals by first-year kicker Jacob Stein. Senior linebacker Jared Nepa’s 62-yard interception return for a touchdown with 4:51 to go in the game sealed the victory.

On the offensive side of the ball, running back Jordan Scott set a new standard for first-year runners at Colgate. Coming off three outstanding performances in his first three collegiate starts, Scott carried the ball 45 times for 222 yards on the ground – a first-year record. The Patriot League acknowledged the Hyattsville, MD, native for the fourth consecutive time as the league’s Rookie of the Week.

“It feels fine, I guess, to have the honor for four consecutive weeks,” Scott said. “It has not been an individual effort. The entire offensive line is playing great, as well as the fullbacks. I just feelfortunatethat [head coach Dick] Biddle has given me the opportunity to contribute to the team.”

With Scott pounding the Holy Cross defense and the Raiders controlling the line of scrimmage, Colgate held a 13-minute advantage in time of possession. Nepa lauded the first-year’s contributions to the Colgate attack.

“Our offense demands that backs be physical, and that’s what Jordan is, physical,” he said.”Our offense will pound and pound until the end of the game, and to have a running back that is there for you in the fourth quarter is quite an asset.”

Senior quarterback and co-captain Mike Saraceno turned in another solid performance against the Crusaders, completing half of his 26 pass attempts for 224 yards and a touchdown. He also rushed for 27 yards.

Holy Cross scored on its first offensive play from scrimmage with a 48-yard bomb from quarterback Josh O’Neil, but Saraceno answered right back by finding sophomore receiver Eric Burke for a 21-yard touchdown at the 9:45 mark in the first quarter.

“There was no concern,” Scott said of Holy Cross’ early score, “because we knew as an offense that we could successfully move the ball against their defense.”

Scott capped the next Raider touchdown drive with a two-yard run to give Colgate a seven-point second-quarter advantage. But the Crusaders’ 47-yard execution of the two-minute drill tied the game again just before halftime.

But while the Raider defense held Holy Cross in check for the entire second half, the game was still in question until Nepa’s big play.

“The quarterback’s throw was a little off target, and I happened to have put myself in position to make the play,” Nepa said. After I intercepted it, I saw that [senior defensive tackle] Josh Wurst had an angle on the quarterback. I just waited for him to make the big block and I took off up the sideline.

“I think every play is just as important as the next, but circumstances make some plays stand out.”

Nepa, senior tackle Jeff Galletly and junior safety Geoff Bean starred for the Colgate defense. Nepa had eight tackles along with his interception, while Jeff and Geoff each had five tackles. Galletly also recorded one sack; Bean, two.

“Geoff is usually involved in one or two [blitz packages],” Nepa said, “butlast week he made the best of his opportunities.”

With Holy Cross now behind them, the Raiders (4-2, 2-0 PL) ready themselves for a Saturday showdown with 16th-ranked Lehigh (4-2, 1-1 PL). There will certainly be playoff implications in this one, as either Colgate or Lehigh has won or shared the last eight Patriot League titles.

Colgate, which currently sits in first place, can gain control of the Patriot League if it beats the Mountain Hawks tomorrow and Lafayette next Saturday. But, as you might expect, the Raiders are taking their 2005 campaign one game at a time.

“We are preparing just like any other game,” Nepa said.”We know that Lehigh will be ready to go, and so will we. As far as I’m concerned, we are in a one-game season every week. We prepare like it’s the last game we’ll ever play.”

Kickoff is at 1 p.m. And seeing that it’s Family Weekend, bring mom and dad too.