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RECAP: Holy Cross tops FBS foe UConn, 38-28, in 2021 season opener

EAST HARTFORD, Conn. — The Holy Cross football team posted a season-opening victory over the University of Connecticut, 38-28, on Saturday, Sept. 4 at Rentschler Field at Pratt & Whitney Stadium. The upset marks Holy Cross’ first win over an FBS opponent since 2002.

 

The Crusaders (1-0) had 363 yards of total offense to UConn’s 262 — including 226 total rushing yards while holding the Huskies (0-2) to just 88 rushing yards.

 

Sophomore quarterback Matthew Sluka threw a pair of touchdowns and rushed for one more, totaling 123 yards in the air and 112 yards on the ground. Junior running back Tyler Purdy had two touchdowns and ran for 42 yards, while senior running back Peter Oliver ran for 79 yards.

 

Defensively, Holy Cross came up with three sacks and three interceptions, led by senior linebacker Liam Anderson, who recorded two sacks and a forced fumble, and senior defensive tackle Jason Modak, who had a pick-six. Junior linebacker Jacob Dobbs had 11 tackles, and senior safety Grant Holloman tallied nine tackles.

 

HOW IT HAPPENED:

 

Sluka capped off a nine-play, 77-yard opening drive with a six-yard rushing touchdown at 10:26 of the first, giving Holy Cross a 7-0 lead.

 

UConn evened up the score with a 50-yard touchdown pass at the 4:23 mark of the first, and took a 14-7 lead with 2:22 to go in the frame after a one-yard rush.

 

Early in the second quarter, sophomore defensive tackle Jason Modak picked off a pass by UConn quarterback Jack Zergiotis at the 29-yard line and returned the ball for a touchdown — evening the score at 14-14 with 14:44 left in the half.

 

Junior wide receiver Ayir Asante caught a 24-yard touchdown pass from Sluka with 6:54 left in the half to give the lead back to the Crusaders.

 

UConn quickly tied the game again with 2:57 left in the first half off a three-yard touchdown pass.

 

Senior kicker Derek Ng connected on a 30-yard field goal to give Holy Cross a 24-21 edge headed into the half.

 

After Anderson sacked Zergiotis and forced a fumble, sophomore defensive lineman Jared Dyer recovered the fumble at UConn’s 47-yard line. From there, the Crusaders went on to score off a pass from Sluka to Purdy — extending the Holy Cross lead to 31-21.

 

UConn cut within three points with 3:18 left in the third off an eight-yard touchdown.

 

The Crusaders regained their 10-point lead with 8:19 left in the fourth. Sluka had a 76-yard run to put the Crusaders in prime field position, and Purdy had his second touchdown of the day to extend the lead to 38-28.

 

Senior cornerback John Smith and senior safety Walter Reynolds had a pair of interceptions late to seal the victory for the Crusaders.

 

BEYOND THE BOX SCORE:

 

Purdy’s touchdowns on Saturday were the first of his career.

 

Sluka’s 123 passing yards were a career-high for the sophomore.

 

The Crusaders’ most recent win over an FBS opponent came on Sept. 7, 2002, when Holy Cross defeated Army by a score of 30-21. Holy Cross improves to 4-14 against

 

FBS opponents since 1982.

 

This is the first Holy Cross win over Connecticut since 1984.

 

UP NEXT:

Holy Cross returns to Worcester for its home opener on Saturday, Sept. 11 when it hosts Merrimack in nonconference action at Fitton Field.

Kickoff is set for 2 p.m.

Tickets start at just $10 each when bought in advance. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit goholycross.com/tickets.

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