Patriot League Game of the Week: #8 New Hampshire at Holy Cross

#8 New Hampshire (2-0) at Holy Cross (1-1, 1-0) – Sept 16th 1 PM Fitton Field Worcester, MA

Live Stream: Patriot League Network

Holy Cross hosts the 8th ranked New Hampshire Wildcats in this week’s “Game of the Week”. The Crusaders will play on their home field for the first time this season after opening on the road against UConn (loss) and Bucknell (win). Holy Cross has been extremely impressive to start the year. Star quarterback Peter Pujals (268 ypg 1 TD 2 INT) has been highly effective leading the Crusader offense despite facing a good amount of pressure from opposing defenses. The running attack has yet to prove it is capable of taking the pressure off of Pujuals. The leaky offensive line can be largely attributed to the lack of production from the Crusader running backs (Diquan Walker 44 ypg 3 TD and Gabe Guild 33.5 ypg). If Hoy Cross can get improved play from the offensive line Pujals and Co. could really emerge as a force offensively as the season moves along.

New Hampshire has started the 2017 in really impressive fashion. The Wildcats opened the season with a win over rival, and talented, Maine. The game was moved from its traditional late season date to the first game of the year at behest of fans from both schools. After claiming the Brice-Cowell Musket, New Hampshire dominated FBS Georgia Southern last week. The Wildcat defense played excellent in the win. The game was played in Birmingham, AL due to concerns over the Hurricane Irma having a major impact in Statesboro.

Quarterback Trevor Knight (143 ypg 4 TD passing, 67 ypg rushing) leads the way for the Wildcat offense. Knight’s favorite target in the passing game has been Neil O’Connor (80 ypg 2 TD) to start the year. Malik Love is also a dangerous threat from the slot position. The rushing attack has been highly effective (155 ypg) behind Knight and Evan Gray (75 ypg 1 TD). Holy Cross’s improved defense will certainly be tested by the Wildcats balanced attack.

Knight is a similar QB to UConn’s Shirreff who gave the Crusaders all kinds of trouble in the 4th quarter in the Huskies come from behind win. All everything linebacker Nick McBeath and the rest of Crusader front 7 will need to be at the top of their game on Saturday. Discipline and good tackling will be of the upmost importance for the Holy Cross defense.

This is a winnable game for Holy Cross but they’ll have to bring their “A” game in all 3 phases and play a full 60 minutes. The Crusaders have lacked the ability to notch a signature win since Dominic Randolph graduated for various reasons. One consistent trend has been the inability to stand up in the second half and more specifically the 4th quarter. That issue reared its ugly head again in the season opener against UConn. The Crusaders did everything right except seal the deal. New Hampshire has become one of FCS’s best programs by being a 4 quarter team so Holy Cross better be prepared for a 60 minute war. The key to Holy Cross emerging with a victory will be surviving in the trenches. The front 7 on defense has exceeded expectations while the O-line has struggled at times to start the year. Pujals will need time to make plays in order for Holy Cross to win.

Prediction: New Hampshire 30 Holy Cross 17

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