For the second straight week, Colgate football put together a polished performance on both sides of the ball in a 45-7 trouncing of Holy Cross, moving the Raiders to 2-1 at the halfway point of Patriot League play, and 4-4 overall record.
A dominant Colgate defense was highlighted by five forced turnovers as well as a pick-six, paving the way for offensive opportunities and short yardage scoring situations. After letting up a Holy Cross touchdown to tie the game at 7-7 early in the first quarter, the Raider defense did not look back, standing stout and completely shutting down the Holy Cross Crusaders until the final whistle.
“The defense is playing awesome right now. It’s pretty easy when we can sit back and they are scoring points by themselves. And then they put us in position where we only had to go seven yards to score. They are playing awesome and it makes our lives so much easier,” first-year quarterback Grant Breneman said.
In addition to the three interceptions, Colgate continually poked holes in the Holy Cross offensive line, adding six sacks by six different Raiders. Senior Pat Afriye earned his 26th career sack, just 2.5 sacks away from the program record.
“We had great pressure the whole day. It’s our job to get in the quarterback’s head and rile him up a bit, and we did a good job today,” Afriye said.
The score stood at 17-7 in Colgate’s favor at halftime, but the Raiders went on to score 21 more points in the third quarter, icing the game. After a touchdown on its first drive, the best scoring opportunity for Holy Cross would come after a 65-yard completion in the middle of the second quarter, only to have the ball taken away after a botched snap and subsequent Colgate fumble recovery.
In putting points on the board, the Colgate offense had success converting and finishing opportunities provided to them by the team’s defensive takeaways, aided by dynamic quarterback play from Breneman. Coming off two consecutive Patriot League Rookie of the Week honors, Breneman continued to impress this week through an efficient performance, accounting for 258 yards of total offense as well as four touchdowns – two through the air and two on the ground. This marks the sixth consecutive game that Breneman hasn’t thrown an interception and he now has 12 passing touchdowns against just one interception. These are remarkable numbers for the rookie signal-caller who appears to be finding his place in this offense.
After a season-high 263 rushing yards last week, Colgate also continued its trend of success in its running game, pounding the rock for 197 yards against the Crusaders. Success in the running game has been the cornerstone of this Colgate offense, which finds itself far and away leading the Patriot League in rushing yards per game and total yards on the ground. Senior James Holland Jr. led the way with 109 rushing yards, following up on his career-high of 166 last week.
In the historic series against Holy Cross that dates back to 1917, the 38-point win marks Colgate’s largest margin of victory over the 80 games the two teams have played. After a crushing three-point loss against Lehigh three weeks ago, the Raiders have won two in a row and find themselves tied for second place in the Patriot League standings. Colgate will look to continue its momentum at home next week versus Bucknell, who is in fourth place in the Patriot League with a 1-1 record. The contest takes place October 28.
Contact Neil Ahlawat at email@example.com.