Holy Cross Football’s Historic Upset Against Boston College: 75 Years Later

The teams will go head-to-head on the football field in 2018 — their first match-up in 30 years
October 5th, 2017 by 

The 1942 Crusader football team.
The 1942 Crusader football team. Photo courtesy Holy Cross Archives.

Holy Cross stood little chance as it took the field against an undefeated and top-ranked Boston College football team at Fenway Park in 1942. The Orange Bowl-bound Eagles were prepping to compete for a national championship just a few weeks later, and were looking to close out their perfect regular season against the Crusaders.

Holy Cross had different plans.

In front of 41,350 spectators and to the amazement of football fans everywhere, Holy Cross emerged from the matchup with a landslide victory, handing Boston College a 55-12 defeat in one of the greatest upsets in college football history.

The historic win was quickly followed by tragedy when the nearby Cocoanut Grove nightclub — where BC was set to have its victory party — caught on fire, claiming 492 lives. The BC team and its fans forewent the party after the loss on the field, an outcome many say may have saved their lives.

 An advertisement from the 1942 match-up.

An advertisement from the 1942 match-up.

Since the upset 75 years ago, the teams have played each other 42 times — and the rivalry has not dulled.

Rick Lane ’88, a former football player who was on the field the last time the two teams went head-to-head in 1986, explains that games against BC are like no other.

“We always want to beat any team we’re playing, but there’s something really intense about games against BC, from both sides,” explains Lane. “Everyone steps up for that game. You would hear stories of the 1942 game when Holy Cross upset BC, and you felt a part of that history. You want to be one of those Holy Cross teams that beat BC.”

For the first time in more than 30 years that rivalry will be renewed, when the two teams square off in November of next year.

“Even when we are the underdogs,” says Lane, “we always come out of the locker room believing we can beat BC.”

Stay tuned in the coming months for more on the matchup at goholycross.com.


Written by Evangelia Stefanakos for the Fall 2017 issue of Holy Cross Magazine.

About Holy Cross Magazine

Holy Cross Magazine (HCM) is the quarterly alumni publication of the College of the Holy Cross. The award-winning publication is mailed to alumni and friends of the College and includes intriguing profiles, make-you-think features, alumni news, exclusive photos and more. Visit magazine.holycross.edu/about to contact HCM, submit alumni class notes, milestones, or letters to the editor.

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