Football 4/17/2021 6:46:04 PM
Crusaders’ cornerback John Smith selected as Championship Game MVP
LEWISBURG, Pa. – Holy Cross jumped out to a 17-0 first-quarter lead and never trailed on their way to a second-straight Patriot League title, the eighth in program history, on Saturday at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.
Holy Cross junior cornerback John Smith, a 2020-21 All-Patriot League First-Team selection, was named MVP of the first Patriot League Football Championship Game. He made four tackles, 1.0 tackle for loss, two pass breakups and returned an interception 58 yards to set up a Crusaders’ touchdown. The Holy Cross defense recorded five interceptions in the win.
Freshman quarterback Matthew Sluka, the 2020-21 Patriot League Football Rookie of the Year, rushed for two touchdowns and threw for a third to lead the offense.
Bucknell junior wide receiver Dominic Lyles led the Bison with nine catches for 97 receiving yards, while senior linebacker Simeon Page finished with 10 tackles, 2.0 TFLs and 1.0 sack.
The Crusaders will learn their NCAA DI FCS Championship fate when the 16-team bracket is revealed at 11:30 a.m. ET on Sunday, April 18, on ESPNU and WatchESPN.com. First-round action for the 2020-21 FCS Football Championship begins on Saturday, April 24.
HOLY CROSS CRUSADERS (3-0 PL, 1-0 NORTH) AT BUCKNELL BISON (2-2 PL, 2-0 South)
Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium/Lewisburg, Pa……………..Saturday, April 17, 1 p.m., ET (ESPN+)
LEWISBURG, Pa. – Holy Cross junior cornerback John Smith earned Patriot League Championship Game MVP honors after recording one of the Crusaders’ five interceptions and two pass breakups in a 33-10 victory over Bucknell at Christy Mathewson-Memorial Stadium.
* Sophomore linebacker Jacob Dobbs finished with a team-high nine tackles, junior linebacker Liam Anderson had seven tackles, 1.0 sack and an interception and senior defensive lineman Benton Whitley added six tackles and two sacks for a loss of 25 yards.
*Freshman quarterback Matthew Sluka rushed for 61 yards on 18 carries and two touchdowns while completing 8-of-11 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Junior running back Peter Oliver added 67 yards on eight carries and a score.
*Lyles led the Bison offense with nine catches for 97 receiving yards, while junior wide receiver Brandon Sanders had six catches for 46 yards.
*Page finished with 10 tackles, 2.0 TFLs and 1.0 sack to lead the Bucknell defense. Senior safety Brandon Benson finished with 10 tackles and 1.0 TFL, while sophomore cornerback Gavin Pringle had six tackles and an interception.
*Sluka led a 10-play, 85-yard drive, rushing for 41 yards on six carries, including a six-yard touchdown run to take a 7-0 lead.
*Dobbs intercepted a pass in Bison territory to set up a 26-yard field goal from junior placekicker Derek Ng, giving Holy Cross a 10-0 lead at the 8:05 mark in the first quarter.
*Freshman wide receiver Byron Shipman caught a six-yard touchdown pass from Sluka as time expired in the first quarter to extend the Crusaders’ lead to 17-0.
*The opportunistic Bison took advantage of a fumbled punt, scoring three plays later on senior quarterback Logan Bitikofer’s three-yard touchdown run, making the score 17-7 with 4:20 left in the half.
*Bitikofer completed a 32-yard pass to junior wide receiver Dominic Lyles to set up the touchdown.
*Senior placekicker Ethan Torres brought the Bison within a touchdown, connecting on a 28-yard field goal at the 9:11 mark in the third quarter.
*On the next drive, Holy Cross junior running back Peter Oliver scored on a 37-yard touchdown run, putting the Crusaders in front 24-10.
*Smith returned an interception 58 yards to the Bucknell 20-yard line to set up the Crusaders’ next score, as Sluka’s 15-yard run put Holy Cross in front 31-10 with 10:51 left in the game.
*Holy Cross added two points on a safety less than two minutes later to extend their lead to 33-10.
RECAPS: HOLY CROSS | BUCKNELL
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The Patriot League is in its fourth decade of academic and athletic achievement, continually demonstrating that student-athletes can excel at both academics and athletics without sacrificing high standards. The Patriot League’s athletic success is achieved while its member institutions remain committed to its founding principle of admitting and graduating student-athletes that are academically representative of their class. Participation in athletics at Patriot League institutions is viewed as an important component of a well-rounded education.