It’s getting ridiculous at this point. Colgate football has unquestionably had one of its best seasons in program history, rising to No. 6 in the Division 1-AA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) rankings. Having closed out their Patriot League schedule, the Raiders could remain one of two undefeated teams in FCS and one of three in all of D1 football. Unsurprisingly, they dominated yet another league opponent on Saturday, November 10, beating Lehigh 48-6 in challenging conditions of 20-30 m.p.h. winds.
Senior running back James Holland flexed for the Raiders with two early rush- ing touchdowns. On the team’s second possession of the game, which lasted 11 plays and six-and-a-half minutes, Holland punched in the touchdown from two yards out. In the team’s third possession, he ran it in from 10 yards out, giving Colgate a two- touchdown lead early in the second quarter.
Holland has had a spectacular senior season for the Raiders. He is (literally)
running away with every statistical honor, leading the league in rushing yards (899) and touchdowns (11). He has accomplished these feats all while toting only 153 carries, 32 fewer than the Patriot League leader in that category. With his performance on Saturday, he moved to number nine in Colgate’s all-time career rush yards.
You know you’ve had a good season when the only touchdowns you surrender on defense come during the first and last games of Patriot League play. While Holland has lit up the scoreboard for the Colgate offense, his teammates on defense have more than held up their end of the bargain. Lehigh’s touchdown in the second quarter, which made the score 13-6, marked only the third touchdown given up all season by the Raider defense. Without a doubt, the defense is far and away the best in the FCS. They sit first in total defensive yards given up (1,731) and yards surrendered per game (192.3, 44 yards less than the next team).
Although the Mountain Hawks threatened midway through the first half, the rest of the game was no contest.
Colgate, clearly frustrated that they let an opposing player into their end zone, fired off two more rushing scores to close out the first half: one for junior running back Alex Mathews and a third touchdown for Holland, who would end the game with 139 yards and three scores.
A highlight of the game was unquestionably the confident play of backup senior quarterback Sage Atwood. The starter, sophomore Grant Breneman, who has been nursing an undisclosed in- jury, was scratched at game time in favor of Atwood, who more than stepped up to the occasion, delivering three touchdowns in the third quarter alone. He nailed a 25- yard strike to senior wide receiver Thomas Ives, then followed it up with two rush- ing touchdowns later in the quarter. Head coach Dan Hunt lauded Atwood’s performance.
“He did everything we wanted him to do. He came out, got his feet wet and led us to some points,” Hunt said. “You could see throughout the game that his confidence was growing, and it was not an easy day to throw the football. I’m so happy for him. He’s done everything we’ve asked him to do for four years.”
With this 42-point victory in which the offense and defense were both nearly flawless, Colgate added another point to the argument for its status as nation- al contenders in the FCS. Some have questioned the intensity of the Patriot League, but with performances as impressive as these, the 9-0 Raiders have more than proven that they are worthy of their sixth-ranked position in all of mid-major football.
Next week’s matchup, on Saturday, November 17, represents the team’s greatest test of the season: Army. The Black Knights have been rock solid this season as a D1-A FBS team, winning eight games and taking the elite No. 5 Oklahoma Sooners to overtime earlier in the season. The game will be nationally- broadcast on CBS Sports Network start- ing at 12 p.m., so ring in Thanksgiving Break gathering up with your family around the television to see for yourself the greatness of these Colgate Raiders.
Contact Theo Asher at [email protected]