(STATS) - Holy Cross' record was a mere 1-3 heading into October, but the Crusaders' difficult nonleague schedule had hardened them for the most important part of their regular season.
It's paid off with a Patriot League championship, and after Holy Cross shut out Georgetown 24-0 on Saturday with a peak performance, the STATS FCS Team of the Week will make its first appearance in the national playoffs since 2009, and just the Crusaders' third overall.
"These guys," an emotional coach Bob Chesney said, "their desire, their resolve, their commitment, their effort, their energy, those are words I think about every single day when we come to work. It's a pleasure to be able to come in here every day, and to be able to do this with this team, for this school and for this community at this moment, it's a special day."
Holy Cross (7-5, 5-1) has come a long way from the first month of the season, when it beat CAA Football power New Hampshire, but also lost to eventual Ivy League co-champ Yale and to two FBS programs, Navy and Syracuse.
The Crusaders have a 20-member senior class, and none has been more important than tailback Domenic Cozier. Against Georgetown, which was denied a winning season by the Crusaders for the second consecutive year, Cozier carried the ball 23 times for 161 yards and two touchdowns. He topped 1,000 yards for the season with his fifth 100-yard game - all in the league wins.
The defense may have been at its best, allowing just 233 yards and causing four turnovers in the shutout. Freshman linebacker Jacob Dobbs scored on a 56-yard interception return in the final minute of the first half, making it 14-0. Dobbs finished with seven tackles, a sack, two tackles for loss and two interceptions, while senior defensive back Correy Stefanik had a team-high 10 tackles.
The Crusaders, seven-time Patriot League champs, will learn their playoff opponent on Sunday.
HONORABLE MENTION: Bethune-Cookman (31-27 win over No. 12 Florida A&M); No. 8 Montana State (48-14 win over No. 3 Montana); No. 23 Nicholls (28-27 win over No. 21 Southeastern Louisiana); South Dakota (24-21 win over No. 5 South Dakota State)