Golden Gordie Lockbaum has graduated and the Holy Cross football team is no longer invincible.
The Crusaders, last year's most dominant Division I-AA team and proud owner of a Heisman Trophy finalist, are now hugging the shores of mediocrity with a 2-2 overall record (1-0 Colonial League).
Today in Worcester, Harvard (1-1 overall, 1-0 Ivy League) faces a pared-down Crusader version in a Mass Pike matchup. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. (WHRB, 95.3).
Considering that in the last two years Holy Cross has outscored the Crimson, 82-6, Harvard probably prefers this year's version of the Holy Cross squad instead of last year's Golden Gordie Express.
Today's game will feature two of the best quarterbacks in Division I-AA football. Harvard's Tom Yohe, the nation's third-ranked passer, has completed 55 percent of his passes for 496 yards and four touchdowns. Last Saturday against the University of Massachuetts, Yohe produced a career-high 363 yards of total offense.
"Tom Yohe is about as good as it gets," Holy Cross Coach Mark Duffner said. "He's got all the records over there. He has the ability to run."
Crusader signal-caller Jeff Wiley, a 1987 consensus All-America, has accumulated 806 yards in the air but has been picked off nine times in just four games.
Wiley, like Yohe, also throws to his running backs. Tailback Tim Donovan, Lockbaum's heir, leads Holy Cross with 15 receptions. Sophomore Mark Gallagher is the Crusader version of Mark Duper. At 5-ft., 9-in., Gallagher has snagged 13 passes.
The key to the game is Hinz, Harvard's leading rusher (36 attempts, 201 yards). If Hinz, who missed last year's 41-6 Holy Cross win, has a big game on the ground, Harvard could upset the Crusaders. At least that's what Holy Cross is thinking.
"Hinz is their money man," Holy Cross defenive coordinator Kevin Coyle said. "He's the guy they want to get the ball to. He can make the big play."
Defensively, Holy Cross is strong. Led by linebacker Rob McGovern (65 tackles) and cornerback Dave Murphy, the Crusaders have guarded their goal line well, allowing an average of less than 10 points per game in their last 22 Division I-AA contests.
The Crimson, however, gave up 525 yards of offense to the Minutemen last week, including 326 yards on the ground. While Harvard can hold its own up front with Captain Don Peterson and Jim Bell, the Crimson is still having problems trying to consistently stop the big play.
An inconsistent defense this afternoon could make the Crusaders quickly forget about Gordie's graduation.