Bronx, NY – Nothing makes Tom Masella breathe easier than an all-around performance before a road trip. While Michael Douglas and Shia Labeouf performed under one set of lights on campus and the Rams followed suit under another trouncing Bryant 35-7.
Fordham’s Offense put on a clinic a week ago, shattering school records in total yards. This week it was the defense that stole headlines. The Rams held Bryant to 219 yards of offense without two key starters.
The Fordham Offense strung together its most balanced attack of the year, with 244 yards on the ground and 183 through the air. The Rams racked up 400 yards in total offense for the fourth time this season.
“We finally played a complete game,” said Fordham head coach Tom Masella. “I thought we played well on offense, defense and special teams. The kids played hard and it was nice to see that hard work pay off. Hopefully this is something we can build on for next week.”
Junior running back Xavier Martin kept up his excellent 2009 campaign with his second straight 100-yard rushing game and tenth of his career. Martin rushed for 122 yards on 19 carries and a score.
Quarterback John Skelton didn’t mind the extra help.
“Having the running game get going really helps our offense,” said John Skelton. “The offensive line did a good job blocking, especially setting the edge so the backs could get outside.”
After the Fordham defense forced the Bulldogs on a three-and-out to open the first quarter, the Rams took over on their own 45. Fordham’s two stars in the backfield got down to business.
Skelton completed two straight passes for 15 yards, including two to Xavier Martin and the Rams drove down to the Bryant 28. After an incomplete pass Martin finished off the drive by darting 28 yards for the score and the early 7-0 lead.
After Chris Bird missed a 44-yard field goal, Fordham drove 73 yards on eight plays and Darryl Whiting punched it in from 6 yards out for a 14-0 advantage.
Fordham took over following a punt early in the second quarter on its own 35 they only needed 1:34 to put the ball in the end zone for a 21-0 lead. John Skelton added to Fordham’s lead with a 34 yard TD run. Skelton scampered around the left side and down the sideline, going into the end zone untouched with 10:12 left in the first half.
Bryant gave the Rams a scare later in the half after a Samad Wagstaff interception at the Fordham 45. After the ball was advanced to Fordham’s 15-yard line the Bulldogs went to work and were unsuccessful. A fourth down Croce pass to Kahel Pritchard fell short and the Rams held.
The Rams then hit Bryant where it hurt driving 85 yards on ten plays and ending it with a one yard Skelton to Skelton connection for a 28-0 halftime lead.
A promising opening possession of the second half stalled for Fordham after an incompletion on fourth down.
Bryant appeared ready to get on the scoreboard for the first time but a Jerrell Smith fumble ended those hopes
Bryant was not denied the second time. After Patrick Murray blocked a Ram punt, the Bulldogs moved it to the Fordham 11 and cashed in from 28 yards out courtesy of a Gross to Isaiah Leake touchdown pass in the right corner of the end zone.
After cutting the Fordham lead to 28-7 the Rams didn’t take long to answer. On the ensuing kickoff Zach Crosby darted 57 yards to the Bryant 29. This time John Skelton went to his brother again from 18 yards out to put Fordham back up 35-7.
The Bulldogs had one last harrah on offense late in the fourth but were denied when Fordham’s Jay Jackson sacked Croce on fourth down at Fordham’s 42.
Both Skelton’s controlled the skies for Fordham with John leading all throwers and Stephen leading all receivers with 8 catches for 74 yards and two touchdowns.
David Moore finished with four catches for 53 yards and Running Back Daryl Whiting gained 56 yards on eight carries with the one score.
Defensively Jamal Haruna and Cliff Stuckey led the Rams. Haruna finished with eleven tackles, four solo. Stuckey added ten stops, including six solo and one for loss.
With the win, the Rams improve to 2-and Bryant drops to 3-2.
The Rams will begin a two game road trip up in Ithaca, N.Y. Saturday October 17th versus Cornell University at 12:30 p.m. The game will be Fordham’s final non-conference duel of the season.
Back to back wins are an encouraging sign as the Rams play the remainder of October away from Rose Hill.