Senior defensive back Jason Suggs runs towards the Georgetown offense during the game on Saturday, Nov. 1, 2014. Lehigh beat Georgetown in its second win of the season and will take on Holy Cross on Saturday. (Abby Smith/B&W photo)

Hawks to challenge Holy Cross Crusaders

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The Mountain Hawks have excelled in recent games against the College of Holy Cross. Every year since 2009, the two have faced, and the Hawks have scored the victory.

This Saturday, the team gets another opportunity to defeat the Crusaders, as well as a chance to improve on its 2-6 record.

The Hawks notched their second win against Georgetown University last Saturday, defeating the Hoyas 27-19. The Mountain Hawks dominated on offense with 345 passing yards and 154 rushing yards. Sophomore quarterback Nick Shafnisky had a career-high 375 yards passing and hopes to bring that offense into the game against Holy Cross.

“For now, we are focused on Holy Cross, and offensively, we are worried about putting as many points as we can on the scoreboard,” Shafnisky said.

Freshman wide receiver Troy Pelletier helped lead Lehigh’s offense during the Georgetown game. Pelletier was named Patriot League Rookie of the Week for scoring a touchdown and catching seven passes for a career high 187 yards. He is flanked on the other side of the field by senior wide receiver Josh Parris. Parris leads the team with 43 receptions for 439 yards and three touchdowns.

The win against Georgetown brought Lehigh to 1-2 in Patriot League play. The team is focused on winning the rest of its games in the Patriot League with the goal of having a winning record in the league.

“Last week, we got our first Patriot League win. That was big for us,” Shafnisky said. “We have to feed off that energy now, and from there, we can finish the season with all wins. We are focused on playing for each other.”

The Hawks have hopes of capitalizing on their strong offense, as Holy Cross has only put up a total of 373 yards on average this season, while Lehigh has 402 yards on average. Holy Cross’s offense is led by quarterback Peter Pujals, who is ranked 13th in FCS in total offense.

Holy Cross’ defense has allowed 380 yards a game for the year, so Lehigh’s strong offense is going to face a strong defense.

Junior linebacker John Zakrzewski leads the Crusaders’ defense with 74 tackles and is supported by senior linebacker Shane Thompson with 49 tackles. Lehigh’s defense has improved each week, with the unit led by sophomore Pierce Ripanti with 54 tackles.

“We are coming off a big win, our second one of the season,” sophomore linebacker Colton Caslow said. “We want to win out for the rest of the year. So it is big to get the win against Holy Cross so that we can continue our goal of being 5-6 at the end of the year.”

Last week against Georgetown, Caslow had a career-high 12 tackles, and he is preparing to repeat that performance in the next game.

“We have been watching film, practicing hard and having fun while we play,” he said. “We are all staying focused on this week and the game ahead of us and (trying) not to get distracted by the big game at the end of the year: Lehigh-Lafayette.”

Holy Cross is 3-6 on the season and is coming off a bye week. In its most recent game, Holy Cross defeated Lafayette.

“Right now, (we’ve) lost two Patriot League games, so it is looking hard to win the Patriot League,” Shafnisky said. “So what is important now is to not think about those losses. We got our first Patriot League win, and from there, we can finish it out with three more Patriot League wins and win the big one against Lafayette.”

The game against Holy Cross will be on Saturday at 12:35 p.m. in Worcester, Massachusetts.

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