Crusaders overcame adversity, will need to do so again after losing Ligi to injury

The Holy Cross football team faced multiple moments of adversity during Tuesday night’s 42-36 Class S quarterfinal win over New Fairfield at Municipal Stadium’s Ray Snyder Sr. Field.

The ultimate adversity, however, will come on Sunday in a semifinal matchup at second-seeded Bloomfield (9-2). Third-seeded Holy Cross (9-2) will be without senior standout running back Tom Ligi, who broke his left fibula during third quarter of the quarterfinal game after a long run down the Crusader sideline. The Red Zone’s Mark Jaffee broke the news earlier today.

Ligi ran for 162 yards and a touchdown on 15 rushes in what wound up being his final game in a Holy Cross uniform. Junior wide receiver Marquis Campbell filled in at running back better than any Crusader supporter could have imagined, running for 208 yards and four touchdowns on 33 carries. All 208 of Campbell’s rushing yards – and the four touchdowns – came in the second half. Campbell also caught a touchdown pass from sophomore quarterback Drew Caouette. Campbell finished with 284 yards of total offense on 36 touches (33 rushes, 3 receptions).

On defense, Campbell moved into Ligi’s linebacker spot while Carsten Donovan switched to Campbell’s safety position, according to Jaffee’s story. The next man up mentality that exists in all sports was prevalent on the Holy Cross sideline Tuesday, and the Crusaders will need to be that way again on Sunday against the Warhawks.

Holy Cross had an astounding 397 yards rushing, and credit has to go to offensive linemen Josh Holland, Roehn Maldonado, Anthony Shivas, Don Shivas and Benjamin Iannantuoni. Those guys play both ways, so their effort was terrific on Tuesday. Maldonado had a fumble recovery deep in Crusader territory in the first half to snuff out a potential Rebel scoring opportunity. The Holy Cross defense held New Fairfield senior standout quarterback Justin McCormack to 198 total yards (147 passing, 51 rushing). McCormack came into the game averaging 264.4 yards of total offense. He was just 11 of 20 passing (55%), well below his season completion percentage of 66.3. On special teams, Holy Cross did surrender an 80-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to Kyle Martin, but senior Kevin Matiz made all six of his extra-point attempts, and Adrian Acosta blocked an extra point after the second-to-last New Fairfield touchdown of the game.

PHOTO CAPTION: Holy Cross offensive lineman Benjamin Iannantuoni (50), Donald Shivas (55) and Anthony Shivas (54) helped their offense steamroll New Fairfield for 397 rushing yards in Tuesday’s state quarterfinal win. The Crusaders will need another big effort from the big guys after losing Tom Ligi (7) to a season-ending broken leg. (Copyright, Sports on CT-69)