NY Sports Day

Fordham’s Takes 34-10 loss at UNC-Charlotte:

Fordham Athletics

If a tree grows in Brooklyn then a team is growing in The Bronx. Question is, how long will it take to blossom? Fordham opened their 2018 campaign with a 34-10 loss at UNC-Charlotte but for two and a half quarters proved they could play with the heavily favored FBS (formerly I-A) squad. Not too shabby for an FCS (formerly I-AA) program which lost halfback Chase Edmonds, their all-time leading rusher, quarterback Kevin Anderson, their all-time leading touchdown passer, and left tackle Anthony Coyle, arguably Fordham’s best lineman since their Seven Blocks of Granite days. Anderson is currently working out with the CFL’s Hamilton Tiger-Cats while Edmonds (Arizona Cardinals) and Coyle (Houston Texans) will be making their NFL debuts next week. Unfortunately for the Rams, none of their big names went out with a bang last season as injuries to all three derailed what should have been a successful year. Those injuries plus a horrific defense turned an early top-25 FCS ranking into a 4-7 disaster, Fordham’s first losing season since 2011.

Afterwards, longtime Yale offensive coordinator and former Pitt Panthers defensive end Joe Conlin was brought in to rebuild. Named head coach on December 22nd, 2017, Conlin spent the past 8 months focussing on teamwork rather than building the type of individual stars who had previously shined over Rose Hill. With an emphasis on a more attacking defense and a more conservative offense, he’s given the Rams a new, working class identity. Despite the loss, that identity was evident in Conlin’s head coaching debut. It had to be as simply playing the game took some work. Just getting to Charlotte on Friday was an ordeal thanks to a stopover by President Trump (who coincidentally attended Fordham for two years before transferring to Penn) that closed down the local airport. Instead, the Rams were forced to fly into Roanoke while, along with many others, anxiously awaiting the President’s departure. What should have been a two hour flight turned into a 9 hour ordeal. Basically, about the same time that a road trip from Fordham Road to Tobacco Road would have taken. A day later, the game’s 6:00PM start time was then delayed by over an hour as lightening dominated North Carolina’s humid skies. Once Fordham was finally able to play, they hung tough with the Southerners for an entire half. After giving up a pair of field goals senior quarterback Luke Medlock hooked up with senior wideout Austin Longi for a 75 yard catch and run to give the Rams their first lead of the season. The Charlotte 49ers quickly responded with a 58 yard bruising break by junior fullback Benny LeMay, who later scored on a two yard surge to retake the lead. Still, Fordham was able to keep the deficit at 13-7 entering the half.

The second half of Division I college football’s first ever Rams-Niners matchup was delayed for nearly another hour as more lightening strikes hovered over Jerry Richardson Stadium. When play resumed the Rams got on the board first thanks to a 33 yard chip shot by sophomore Andrew Mevis. Then the sky truly opened. It wasn’t lightening but a wounded duck which proved to be the contest’s turning point. Facing a second and six from his own 27 yard line, Charlotte redshirt freshman quarterback Chris Reynolds, gambled by going deep on a hard-hitting pass rush that had spent most of the first half inside Charlotte’s backfield. With Fordham again loading the box, Reynolds found fellow redshirt freshman Victor Tucker, all alone against senior Fordham corner Dylan Mabin. Reynolds’ flailing heave was so off target that both Tucker and Mabin had to fully turn back around to get under it. Mabin seemed to have the better angle but tripped as Tucker turned what could have been an interception into a 60 yard gain. Two plays later LeMay rumbled in for the score to put the game out of reach. He rumbled some more early in the fourth quarter while capping a 14 play, 97 yard drive with another touchdown as Fordham’s aggressive defense simply ran out of gas. The teams faced yet another delay as, fittingly for Fordham, the stadium lights later went out. They stayed out for the Rams as Medlock returned to the field and promptly telegraphed a pick-6 to Juwan Foggie for the game’s final score.

A half hour before midnight, and with just several hundred fans left in attendance, it all finally ended. After the airport delay, the pregame delay, the halftime delay and the fourth quarter delay, Fordham found itself on the wrong side of an ugly 34-10 final. Still, after a 9 hour journey to Charlotte and five and a half hours on and off the field, the Rams showed a certain grit. Something that, even with their big names, had been missing in 2017. Last season Fordham often folded in the face of adversity. The Rams barely even bothered showing up in contests against Army, Eastern Washington and Conlin’s Yale club. This was not the case Saturday night. The “commitment to excellence” Vince Lombardi famously talked about is back. Once the talent develops, results will follow. Maybe not this season, but soon.


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