Bronx, NY—Fordham’s (1-5) second home contest in 2011 was very different than its first. Fordham’s loss to the nationally ninth ranked Lehigh Mountain Hawks (6-1) on Saturday was a complete turnaround from its victory over still winless Columbia on September 17.
On Saturday, Fordham faced the dominant power in the Patriot League. Lehigh has won the league championship seven times in the last 13 years. After the conclusion of the contest, Fordham head coach Tom Masella remarked, “They [Lehigh] might be the best Patriot League team I’ve seen in a long time.”
The action during the game was reflective of the vast difference in level and experience between the two football teams. Lehigh is now on a six game winning streak and have won its last 10 Patriot League contests. Its only defeat was in its first contest of the season, an overtime loss to New Hampshire, ranked sixth in the FCS coaches’ poll. Fordham has lost its last four games.
The Lehigh offense is very difficult to stop. The Mountain Lions gained 598 yards, 416 in the air and 182 on the ground. The very impressive quarterback, Chris Lum, set a career single game passing gain of 413 yards. He completed 32 of 47 throws, three of them for touchdowns. Lum gave credit to others for his outstanding stats during the game, “I think it starts with the calls from our offensive coordinator. Running the ball really helped. It was a very solid day for the offense.”
In his previous six games in 2011, Lum averaged 365.9 passing yards gained per game and a total of 23 touchdowns.
His favorite target during the game was wide receiver Ryan Spadola. The junior caught 13 of Lum’s passes for a career high total of 216 yards. With 1,098 yards gained receiving passes, Spadola has passed the 1,000 yard total for the second straight season. Spodola leads the FCS (Football Championship Subdivision) in receiving yards per game with 157.
Lehigh got on the board first and led 10-0 with 3:42 to play in the first quarter. Fordham’s inexperienced team did not disappear. A Lehigh punt was blocked and Patrick McGete was credited with a Fordham safety with seven seconds left in the quarter.
With the ball in their possession at the start of the second quarter the Rams drove to the Lehigh 20. Michael Maranda kicked a 37 yard field goal for Fordham to close the Lehigh advantage to 10-5 with 12:10 remaining in the first half.
Lehigh dominated the rest of the quarter and the third by outscoring Fordham24-7. Neither team scored in the fourth quarter.
Despite the apparent one-sided result, both coaches described the game as very competitive and physical. Andy Coen of Lehigh said, “I thought it was a very physical game. I think Fordham is a very good, young football team…They got really good, young players. It [Fordham] was a quality opponent in a tough place to play.” Fordham’s Tom Masella saw the game in a similar way, “Certainly, it was a physical game. I thought our kids played hard. A lot of guys got banged up.”
Masella explained his need to play his young players as they are the best on the squad, but that doing so leads to freshman errors, “We’re playing 6-7 freshmen and a couple of sophomores on defense. They’re [Lehigh] a senior laden team and we’re a team laden with freshmen and sophomores. We’re going through a lot of growing pains.”
Frodham will now be on the road for three weeks against Lafayette, Army and Georgetown before returning to the Rose Hill campus for its final two games of 2011, November 12 against Bucknell and November 19 against Holy Cross.