That's not quite true. Quarterback Tom Ciaccio, who has guided the Crusaders to 16 consecutive wins, a 7-0 record this season and the No. 3 ranking in Division I-AA (behind Nevada and Eastern Kentucky), admits to plenty of frustration. "It's my senior year, and I don't want it to end," said Ciaccio. "We'd like to have a shot at proving we're not only the best team in the East, but in the country."
Ciaccio needed to be at his best against Lehigh, which came into the game with a 6-0 record and a playbook full of tricks. After a surprisingly cautious first half that ended in a 7-7 tie, both teams came out firing after intermission. Before you knew it, Holy Cross had zoomed to a 35-21 lead. Then Lehigh fought back to go ahead 36-35 in the fourth quarter on a two-point conversion scored on the old "fumblerooksi" play. After Lehigh quarterback Glenn Kempa faked a handoff and rolled right, guard Ken Joseph snatched up the ball and sauntered untouched into the left side of the end zone. Duffner later admitted that he was "faked out just like everyone else."
But Ciaccio wasn't done. After hooking up with end Joey Riley for a 49-yard TD pass, he connected with tight end Ron Hooey for a two-point conversion that gave the Crusaders a 43-36 lead with 3:21 remaining. Naturally, Lehigh scored again, Kempa and receiver Horace Hamm combining on a 45-yard TD play, but Kempa's two-point pass attempt to wide receiver Rich Clark was low, enabling Holy Cross to escape with the win.
When Lehigh coach Hank Small was asked about the Patriot League's no-playoff policy in football, he minced no words. "It's a damn shame," he said, "especially when every other sport in our league is allowed to go [to playoffs]. I think it's a crime, to tell you the truth."
Northwestern's decision to wear all-purple uniforms ("We looked like a grape," said quarterback Len Williams) may or may not have had anything to do with its 17-11 upset of Illinois in Evanston. Nonetheless, there's no doubt that last Saturday was a red-letter day—or purple-letter day—for the program that can always be counted upon to lead the Big Ten in academics and finish last in football.
Going into the game the Illini were still entertaining hopes of winning the conference and going to the Rose Bowl. But that was before the Wildcat defense put the clamps on quarterback Jason Verduzco, who passed for only 153 yards (about half his season's average) and threw two interceptions. "They played up to a level that was great," said Verduzco.
So did Williams, whose passing led to a first-quarter touchdown and a 7-0 lead that Northwestern never surrendered. He also scored on a four-yard keeper in the third quarter.
Who knows? Maybe one of these days Northwestern can match what Vanderbilt, another Egghead U., has done in the SEC. The Commodores, in their first year under coach Gerry DiNardo, stunned Mississippi 30-27 in Oxford on Jeff Owen's 42-yard field goal with 22 seconds to go. The win was the first in the conference for Vandy on the road since 1984 (after 19 straight losses) and, with a 27-25 upset of Georgia last week in Nashville, gave the Commodores their first back-to-back SEC wins since 1982.
And that's not all. The Commodores now are a gaudy—for them—2-3 in league play, but they easily could be 4-1. They were on the verge of beating LSU on Sept. 21, but a costly fumble in the final moments allowed the Tigers to escape with a 16-14 victory. On Oct. 12, Auburn needed a late field goal to squeeze out a 24-22 win.