By Steve Svetovich
Holy Cross Crusaders junior quarterback Cory Miller came off the bench and fired three touchdown passes to lead his team to its first home win since 2010, a 35-33 thriller over Susquehanna on Saturday, Sept. 19, at Monsignor Crotti Field in Dunmore.
The double overtime win snapped a 20-game home losing streak for the Crusaders, and it was the first win of the year for football coach Josh Watters and his Holy Cross Crusaders.
The Crusaders took advantage of a couple Susquehanna turnovers to take a 13-0 lead in the first quarter of the contest. On just the third play from scrimmage in the game, the diminutive junior Josh Mies intercepted a Susquehanna pass and bolted 42 yards for a Holy Cross touchdown. The point after touchdown (PAT) kick by the versatile Mies gave the Crusaders a quick 7-0 lead.
Two plays later, the Sabers fumbled and the Crusaders recovered at the Susquehanna 12. Soon after, Holy Cross’s signal caller, junior Deion Lewis, plunged into the end zone from the one on a sneak, and the Crusaders led, 13-0 with 8:25 left in the first quarter. A two-point conversion run attempt failed.
The Crusaders recovered a Susquehanna fumble late in the first quarter, but were then forced to punt. Susquehanna came back with a seven-play, 75-yard drive. Sabers’ junior quarterback Kyle Donovan scored on an eight-yard run to close the gap to 13-7 after the PAT.
Following a punt, the Sabers had the pigskin with 2:20 left in the first half. Then Nik Boniello intercepted a Sabers pass play and returned it to the Susquehanna 36. On the very next play, the cool-headed Miller hit Kevin Kizis for a 36-yard score. The extra point kick by Mies gave Holy Cross a 21-7 halftime lead.
The Sabers put together a long drive in the third quarter marching 66 yards on 10 plays, with Donovan scoring on a two-yard plunge. The extra point failed and the Crusaders had a 21-13 lead, with 3:04 left in the third quarter.
With less than six minutes left in the fourth quarter, junior Jarred Mills of the Sabers pounced on a Holy Cross fumble at the Crusaders 22. Six players later, Donovan scored on another two-yard sneak. A two-point conversion run by Mills tied the game, 21-21, with 2:26 left.
The game went into overtime and then came more heroics from both ends. Susquehanna got the ball first and scored on two plays. A five-yard run by Wes Richardson gave the Sabers the lead, 27-21. The extra point failed.
The Crusaders overtime possession began with three incompletions. However, with the game on the line and fourth-and-goal from the 10, the clutch Miller hit Bailey Simrell with a TD toss to tie the hard fought contest, 27-27. However, the extra point failed, and the thrilling game went into the second overtime.
A determined Miller came right back in the second overtime by hitting Kizis for a 10-yard score on the first play. Miller then ran into the end zone for the important two-point conversion and Holy Cross had a 35-27 lead.
The Sabers faced fourth and goal from the two in the second overtime. Then Donovan scored his fourth touchdown on a quarterback sneak to close the gap to 35-33. The Sabers attempted another sneak, but the strong Holy Cross front line held them.
The Crusaders celebrated with a hard earned 35-33 double overtime win at home.
Susquehanna totaled 286 rushing yards to the Crusaders 14 in the game. Mills ran for 146 yards on 26 carries for the Sabers. Holy Cross totaled 69 passing yards to none for the Sabers.
In the end, it was a never-say-die team effort led by the level headed play and clutch performance off the bench by quarterback Miller that won the game for the Crusaders.
The win gave Holy Cross a 1-2 record, but 1-0 in Division 3 of the Lackawanna Football Conference. Susquehanna dropped to 1-2 and 0-1 in Division 3.