Bronx, NY—As the culminating days of the Yankees’ attempt to capture the American League pennant approaches, the college football season in the Bronx has begun. Under cloudy skies and temperature in the low 60’s, a large crowd of 6,820 crowded into the stands of Jack Coffey Field to watch the first home game of Fordham’s 2011 season.
The game had importance additional to the long-time New York City rivalry that began in 1890. Since 2002, the winner of the game between Fordham and Columbia has been awarded the Liberty Cup. The Cup is dedicated to the memory of the alumni of both schools who perished in the 9/11 attack. Fordham coach Tom Masella, a firefighter at Engine Co. 284 in Brooklyn for four years, spoke with emotion about the meaning of the game, “I talked to the team on Wednesday and I told them we had 39 Fordham alums that passed away that day and as a former fireman, I lost a lot of friends that day. It [the game] means a lot to me and to people involved in this football program.”
Neither team scored in the first period. The only scoring attempts were two field goals missed by Fordham kicker Patrick Murray. The first kick was ruled a no-play as Columbia received an offside penalty. The quarter ended with the Lions beginning a drive from the Fordham 33.
The drive concluded successfully on the fourth play when Columbia quarterback Sean Brackett threw a 12 yard touchdown pass to Kurt Williams 59 seconds into the second quarter.
The next Fordham attempt to score, eight minutes later, was a field goal attempt by Murray that was blocked. A pass from the Fordham 2 that would have led to another Columbia score was intercepted by Fordham senior Nick Womack who ran the ball from goal line to goal line for a record 100 yard interception and a touchdown.
Of the importance of the play, Masella remarked, “No question that was the biggest play of the game by far. We’re ready to go down fourteen to nothing and it doesn’t look that we have anything going when he brings that back and switched the whole game around.” The score was tied at 7 as the half ended.
The fourth drive of the third quarter concluded with a Fordham touchdown. After two rushes by Darryl Whiting, who rushed for 100 yards in the game, the freshman quarterback, Peter Maetzold, unleashed 60 yard pass to freshman Sam Ajala for the second Fordham TD. The two Texans combined for a Fordham lead that was never overturned.
Each team scored a single touchdown on a pass in the final quarter. Maetzold threaded a throw to Carlton Koonce for a touchdown at 5:19 to put Fordham ahead, 21-7. The final score was a touchdown pass from Burkett to Mike Stephens with 1:40 left in the game.
Masella credited the defense for the win, “Our whole defense played extremely well, five sacks and two interceptions. They’re going to be the strength of our team.”
Fordham will begin a three game road trip on September 24 with a contest against Rhode Island. The Rams return home on October 15 to face Lehigh at 1PM. The game will be a highlight of Family Weekend at Fordham.