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Holy Cross mourns Jackson’s death

Former Holy Cross star Brandon Jackson was killed in automobile accident Sunday.
Photo by Yinghao Luo
By Laura Amato

The Holy Cross football community was stunned and deeply saddened Sunday after learning that former Knights standout Brandon Jackson died following a single-car crash in Croton-on-Hudson, N.Y.

The news shook the Knights’ tight-knit group as former and current players came together to honor Jackson’s memory. He was 20 years old.

“He was a special young man. He was an honor student here at Holy Cross,” said former Knights coach Tom Pugh, who coached Jackson for four years during high school. “I just feel for his family and the guys all from the team. They’re all out in college playing ball now, and these guys are all calling me and they’re all upset.”

Jackson, a 2014 Holy Cross graduate, died just hours after starting for Army in its victory over Rice on Saturday. According to Croton-on-Hudson police, officials received a call at 1:50 a.m. Sunday about a motor vehicle crash.

When responders arrived on the scene, a single car had crashed into the guardrail—the driver was still in the car at the time and pronounced dead at the scene.

“Words cannot describe the grief that our team is feeling over the loss of our brother and friend, Brandon,” Army coach Jeff Monken said in a statement. “He was a beloved teammate and our hearts are with his family at this time of tragedy.”

Jackson appeared in every game as a freshman last season and led Army with three interceptions as well 62 tackles. He had six tackles and two pass breakups this season.

Jackson was a standout defender at Holy Cross as well, a defensive dynamo whose speed off the ball almost always caught opponents by surprise. The Knights star didn’t talk much on the field—or, according to Pugh, off it—instead, he let his game do the talking.

“He was really quiet and shy, but through football he became this great playmaker,” Pugh said. “He was one of the best in the city, an all-star.”

Pugh remained close to Jackson over the last few years. The former coach visited West Point earlier this year to take in Army’s annual spring game and spent time with Jackson and his family on campus. He said it was memories like those that will help ease the pain of this tragedy.

“He was introducing me to everybody in the locker room and I said, ‘When did you learn to talk?’” Pugh said. “He was such a good, quiet young man. But he was really coming into own.”

Croton-on-Hudson police said that the preliminary investigation into the accident was still ongoing. Croton-on-Hudson is about 19 miles south of the U.S. Military Academy on the opposite side of the Hudson River. While they wait for answers, Jackson’s football families—both at Army and in Queens—are determined to remember the star for the standout player and person he was.

“There’s just not a lot to say,” Pugh said. “He was a great kid, he really was. When you look at a guy who goes to the military academy like that, they’re pretty special. It’s sad, it’s real sad.”

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