Fordham Comes Closer This Past Weekend

Most in the FCS football world knew this would be a rebuilding year for Fordham. Few knew the program which just recently graduated Chase Edmonds would require so much rebuilding. Following an 0-3 start that saw the Rams outscored 114-23 by superior competition, Fordham was supposed to finally find the win column while hosting Central Connecticut State. The Blue Devils, coming off a 17 point home loss to the resurgent Columbia Lions, are also facing somewhat of a rebuilding season. On the road however, and even while holding a 2-8 record against Patriot League competition, CCSU immediately proved to be the stronger squad. Facing a sellout homecoming Rose Hill crowd, the guests were quick to impose their will while taking their opening drive and marching 72 yards in five plays and less than two minutes for a 7-0 lead. Following a Fordham fumble CCSU upped the lead to 10 and were again at midfield for their third drive as the Rams faced the prospects of yet another blowout loss. That’s when second team All-League safety Antonio Jackson provided the Rams with a much needed spark. In a year that’s seen disappointing play by the secondary, Jackson stepped in to intercept a deep Jacob Dolegala pass at his own 20 and zig-zagged 61 yards the other way to give Fordham its best starting field possession of the entire year. Not only was it the senior’s first interception of the season, it was Fordham’s first defensive turnover of the year as well. 
True freshman Tim DeMorat took it from there. Making his first career start the Floridian connected on a laser up the middle to tight end Isaiah Searight for Fordham’s first score of the game. Andrew Mevis missed his second extra point in as many weeks as the score remained 10-6 but momentum was already swinging Fordham’s way.  The lanky quarterback’s ability to scramble setup a long run and then a pair of passes, one helped by an interference call, which took the Rams inside CCSU’s 40. Unfortunately for the capacity crowd things stalled there as head coach Joe Conlin chose to punt in the “no man’s land” that exists between the red zone and midfield. The Rams much maligned defense proved Conlin’s call correct while registering a quick three-and-out as Fordham got the ball back at midfield. The team which had been facing another blowout early in the second quarter was closing the stanza with a chance at taking the lead. Instead, a costly holding call and short runs snuffed out by CCSU’s defensive line forced Fordham back into another punting situation with under a minute left in the half. The game’s momentum immediately swung back in Central Connecticut’s favor thanks to a devastating blocked punt. That plus a later personal foul put the Blue Devils deep into Fordham territory as the clock ticked closer to the first half gun. Two Dolegala completions later gave CCSU a 17-6 lead entering the break.
Undeterred, Fordham came out of the interval with their best drive of the year. The combination of DeMorat and sophomore halfback Zach Davis, who had missed the previous two straight games with a knee injury, was enough to almost make the 7,000+ in attendance forget about the Kevin Anderson-Chase Edmonds combination of the previous three years. Well, not really, but they did look sharper than at any time of the young season. A 25 yard Davis dash through various defenders capped things off as even Mevis was able to add the point after. Once again the Fordham D held as the Rams appeared to be back in business. One final momentum swing ended those positive appearances for good. DeMorat made his first and costliest mistake of the afternoon in telegraphing a short screen to CCSU corner Grant Ibeh. The junior easily took it in for a pick-six to again put the Blue Devils up by double digits.
Despite the many festivities at the nearby homecoming tents, on the field things came to a grinding halt for the remainder of the contest. The teams traded punts as CCSU went to the ground to chew up as much clock as possible. Content with conservative play-calling on offense, the Blue Devils turned to their D to keep things at 24-13 with a mix of new blitzes. In turn Fordham’s offensive line began wearing down. The young group, consisting of two freshman and two sophomores to go along with preseason All-League center Dominic Lombard, could do little against a wave of pressure began teeing off on DeMorat. Much like his predecessor during the previous three contests, the rookie QB was put in a position to pass on virtually every play. CCSU benefitted from Fordham’s desperation in collecting five, all coming after the pick-six, late game sacks. Like his line, DeMorat also seemed to wear down from the constant rushes as he could no longer scramble his way out of jams. Still, the freshman, who finished 17-27 for 184 yards, had his moments and, for a while at least, gave Fordham a hope that victory was in sight. Granted, that inspiration came against weaker competition, but for the first time since the third quarter of the UNC-Charlotte game Fordham did not look overmatched. Of course they’ll need much more than that going forward. Following a bye next week the Rams will have to do much more than coming close to victory while hosting Georgetown. In what should be one of their most favorable matchups of the year, only an actual victory can turn this season from being a complete disaster.
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