Football earns victory over Holy Cross 24-14

Football earns victory over Holy Cross 24-14

Junior tailback Maurice Murray is a student of football. The most important thing this student does is run hard – very hard.

Murray was doing just that last Saturday in Worcester in a 24-14 Northeastern win against Holy Cross, rushing 27 times for 170 yards and three touchdowns, matching a career high. Murray surpassed the 1,500-yard career rushing mark with the effort. He now has 1,563 career yards.

It’s all just one more game for Northeastern’s offensive weapon.

“I had no idea about that, it really hasn’t hit me yet,” Murray said. “It’s just another day.”

And what a day it was for Murray and his teammates, putting together long drives on offense and stopping the Crusaders on defense when necessary.

But the first half was a different story as the Crusaders held the ball for more than 20 minutes and kept the score tied at 14.

“We started out a little slow, but we did have some success early,” said head coach Rocky Hager. “They gained some confidence in the first half and we made some adjustments after halftime.”

The major adjustment was unleashing Murray against the Crusader defense. Murray rushed 17 times for 103 yards in the second half, including an 18-yard touchdown run with 1:48 remaining in the game to put the Huskies up 24-14.

“Maurice had a very big day,” Hager said. “He’s a very strong runner and had some very good blocking up front.”

Murray’s first score of the game came on Northeastern’s second play from scrimmage, taking a hand-off from sophomore quarterback Anthony Orio 36 yards to put Northeastern on the board first. Holy Cross would fight back, however, on a 10-play, 66-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown.

“We started out struggling a little early with our formations and routes,” Hager said. “Part of that comes with adjusting to the speed of the game.”

The second quarter began with a new but familiar face in the game: sophomore quarterback John Sperrazza. It was the second time in as many weeks Sperrazza, who is recovering from lyme disease, has started the second.

Sperrazza acted quickly, pro-mptly hitting senior tight end Kendrick Ballantyne with a 75-yard pass to the Crusader five yard line that resulted in a 10-yard touchdown run by Murray, his second in the game.

The defense was strong as well, forcing a Holy Cross turnover on their opening drive when senior cornerback Louvans Charlot recovered a fumble on the Crusader 43-yard line. They also stopped a Crusader drive in the third quarter, a series of plays Hager said he was very happy with.

“I know the defense came out and stopped them in the second, and those are big things that need to happen,” Hager said.

Offensively the Huskies ran more than they threw, but Orio was 10-17 for 62 yards with an interception on the day. Defensively they were led by junior linebacker Joe Mele, who had six tackles.

While 62 passing yards isn’t the flashiest of statistics, Orio was 2-2 rushing in key fourth-down situations, including a one-yard pickup in the fourth quarter to keep a key Husky drive alive.

It was possession, however, that would be Northeastern’s most important asset, controlling the ball for 23:55 in the second half.

“We really came out hard in the second half,” Murray said. “We really had something to prove. We just realized that we should’ve been ahead at the half.”

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