Bronx, NY—The earliest season football opening game since intercollegiate football began at Fordham in 1882 took place on Thursday night at Jack Coffey Field on Fordham’s Bronx campus. The Rams of Fordham welcomed the Rams of Rhode Island for the 12th meeting of a rivalry that started 101 years ago.
The two young squads appear to be moving in opposite directions. URI entered the contest with a 13 game losing streak while the Rams in 2012 made the second greatest improvement in NCAA football moving from a 1-10 mark in 2011 to a winning, 6-5, record in 2012 under first year head coach Joe Moorhead.
The stronger offensive performances that have come under the coaching of its star quarterback of the 1990’s were still in effect during the inaugural game of the 2013 season. For the second straight season, Fordham scored more than 50 points in its opening game. The most recent contest before the two openers in which the Fordham Rams totaled more than 50 points was on September 6, 2003, also against Rhode Island.
Fordham’s quarterback Mike Nebrich began the scoring attack with a 29 yard touchdown pass to Sam Ajala at 10:08 in the first quarter. The two juniors connected again in the final quarter for a 64 yard touchdown. The two TD passes caught by Ajala equaled the output of his previous two seasons at Fordham.
After the game, Moorhead described Ajala as “very talented” and said, “He’s much improved.”
Less than two minutes after his first touchdown pass of the game, (at 8:14), the fleet Fordham quarterback rushed 32 yards for the second Rams touchdown. The extra points kicked by Brooklyn native Michael Marando gave Fordham a 14-0 advantage that was never overcome.
Nebrich also found last season’s First Team All-Patriot League wide receiver Brian Wetzel for two touchdown receptions. They combined for a 4 yard touchdown in the second period and for a 49 yard touchdown in the third quarter.
The inexperienced signal caller for Fordham showed his capabilities as he connected on 17 of 25 passes for 267 yards. He threw for four touchdowns without an interception.
Nebrich only played three games in 2012, after transferring from the University of Connecticut, before suffering an injury that ended his season.
Fordham sophomore JQ Bowers intercepted a pass of URI quarterback Bob Bentsen and carried it for a touchdown in the third quarter.
A freshman, Kendall Pearcey, scored the final points of the contest on a 16 yard run with 1:27 on the clock. Interestingly, the Bronx college student-athlete graduated from Steinbrenner High School in Lutz, Florida.
After the contest concluded, the team gathered in jubilation to ring the Victory Bell and sing the Fordham Fight Song. These two traditional activities take place on campus after every Fordham football win.
Fordham will remain in the Bronx to prepare for its next opponent, Villanova. The two will compete at the Rose Hill campus on Saturday, September 7, at 6 pm.