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@HarvardCrimson Harvard Edu
 

Top 25 Showdown Starts 136th Football Season Today

Pictured: Chris Pizzotti's late Qb sneak for a touchdown completed a dramatic comeback for Harvard in its opener against Holy Cross. The teams battle Saturday  at 1 p.m. in a Top 25 matchup in Worcester, Mass. Photo Courtesy of Dave Silverman.
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The Particulars
Harvard opens its 136th season Saturday afternoon with a stern test in a battle of Top 25 teams as the Crimson visits Holy Cross at Fitton Field in Worcester, Mass.

The Crimson, nationally ranked in every preseason Top 25 poll, will have its hands full against the vaunted offense of the Crusaders and All-American quarterback Dominic Randolph. Holy Cross will be playing its third game of the season while Harvard is in its first and the Crusaders will be enjoying their third-straight home game on the natural grass.

Opening Day
Harvard is an impressive 111-22-2 in season-openers (.829). The Crimson has won its opening game in seven of the last eight years and is 10-5 on Opening Day under current head coach Tim Murphy.

Series History
Saturday's game will be the 63rd meeting between Harvard and Holy Cross in a series that dates to 1904. Harvard, which enjoyed 36 consecutive home games in the series from 1904 to 1980, holds a 38-22-2 series lead.

Harvard has won six of the last seven meetings and 10 of the last 12 although it was Holy Cross that came away victorious in the last meeting at Fitton Field, 31-28, thanks to a 40-yard touchdown pass with just 19 seconds remaining.

Last Year's Meeting
Harvard stunned Holy Cross with a dramatic come-from-behind victory last season in the first-ever Friday night football game at Harvard Stadium.

Holy Cross led 24-12 with 9:28 to play, but Harvard scored on drives of 60 and 66 yards, taking the lead on a Chris Pizzotti '09 plunge with 1:42 left.

In the fourth quarter, Pizzotti was 8-for-10 for 148 yards and his 30 pass completions was good for second all-time for single game completions. His 370 passing yards stands fourth in single game yardage.

Harvard turned away two Holy Cross scoring bids when Collin Zych intercepted a pass in the end zone in the third quarter and Eric Schultz '09 forced a decisive fumble and recovery on a first-and-goal from Harvard's one-yard line in the fourth.

Dominic Randolph was 27-of-52 for 239 yards with a touchdown pass and a TD run as well as his costly interception and fumble. Brett McDermott had six catches for 61 yards.

Marco Iannuzi led Harvard's receiving corps with 11 catches for 174 yards and a score while Chris Lorditch had nine receptions for 85 yards and Matt Luft had seven catches for 92 yards.

Holy Cross' Last Time Out
Dominic Randolph rushed for two touchdowns and threw two scoring passes to lead the 25th-ranked Holy Cross football team to a 52-21 victory over Sacred Heart at Fitton Field. Randolph completed 20 of 38 passes for 274 yards without an interception, in addition to rushing 11 times for 64 yards.

Holy Cross scored touchdowns on four out of its first five possessions on the day, jumping out to a 28-0 lead by the middle of the second quarter, and never looked back.

Conference Call
Harvard has won 15 of its last 18 non-league games dating back to 2003. Harvard completed its nonleague schedule undefeated (3-0) for the fourth time in the last six seasons with wins over Holy Cross, Lafayette and Lehigh.

Polling Place
After being nationally ranked in every preseason Top 25 poll, Harvard has slipped into 25th place  in both of this week's national polls - The Sports Network and the FCS Coaches Poll. Holy Cross is also in the mix for both polls with the Crusaders coming in at 23rd in TSN and receiving votes in the FCS Coaches Poll.

Harvard Coach Tim Murphy
In his 16th season as Harvard's head coach, Tim Murphy enters Saturday's game with a 97-52 record with the Crimson and a 129-97-1 overall head coaching record, which includes five years at Cincinnati and two years at Maine. Murphy has led Harvard to five Ivy League championships (1997, 2001, 2004, 2007, 2008). He is 11-3 all-time against Holy Cross.

Holy Cross Coach Tom Gilmore
Tom Gilmore is in his sixth season at Holy Cross sideline, and he enters the game against Harvard with a 32-25 record with the Crusaders. Gilmore, who played at Penn as an undergraduate, was the 1985 Ivy League player of the year. He is 1-4 against Harvard as a head coach.

Playing The Percentages
Since 2000, Harvard has posted the second-highest winning percentage in the Football Championship Subdivision (.770) and sixth highest in all of Division I .

        FCS since 2000......... W-L...... Pct.
   1.  Montana..................... 108-22 .831
   2.  Harvard..................... 69-20... .775
   3.  Appalachian State.... 91-32... .739
   4.  Northern Iowa........... 73-26... .737
   5. San Diego................... 70-27... .722
   6.  Furman....................... 79-34... .699
   7.  Colgate........................ 74-32... .698
   8.  McNeese State........... 75-32... .694
   9.  Hampton.................... 70-31... .693
10. Penn............................. 61-27... .693 

        Div. I since 2000....... W-L...... Pct.
   1.  Texas........................... 99-12... .892
   2.  Boise State................. 100-17 .855
   3.  Oklahoma.................. 103-20 .837
   4.  Montana..................... 108-22 .831
   5.  Ohio State................... 92-24... .793
   6.  Harvard..................... 69-20... .775
   7.  Florida......................... 89-26... .774
   8.  LSU.............................. 92-27... .773
   9.  USC............................. 78-23... .772
10.  Appalachian State.... 91-32... .739

Road Trip
Harvard is 32-10 in its last 42 road games since the start of the 2000 season. The Crimson is 24-7 in Ivy League road games during that span.

Scouting The Crimson
Harvard is playing its first game of the 2009 season.

Scouting The Crusaders
Holy Cross freshman tailback Eddie Houghton  Was named the Patriot League Rookie of the Week, for his performance in Saturday's 52-21 victory over Sacred Heart. This marks the second straight time Houghton has been selected as the Patriot League Rookie of the Week.

In the Sacred Heart game, Houghton led the team with 80 rushing yards on 10 carries. He also scored his first collegiate touchdown against the Pioneers, in addition to catching one pass for 14 yards. Houghton finished the game with new career highs of 80 rushing yards and 94 all-purpose yards. He has led the Crusaders in rushing in both of their games so far this year.

Holy Cross is outscoring its opponents 36-14 through two games and is averaging 344 passing yards per game.

Complete Notes
For the complete game notes, click on the PDF Document at the top and bottom of this page.