By Carlos De Jesus IV
Scoring over 40 points for the second straight week would prove not enough for the Fordham Rams in their return home at Rose Hill against the Bryant Bulldogs. A last second 42-41 loss in a shootout that provided over 1,000 yards in total offense left all in attendance on their feet until the final whistle.
The energy was effervescent prior to the start of the game, with the Rams returning home after delivering a 43-14 thumping away to Lehigh. Looking to build on their first win of the season, head coach Joe Conlin looked for his team to get off to a quick start. But Bryant traveled to the Bronx on a mission to humble, opening the game with three successive touchdown drives leaving the Rams defense in a heap.
“I obviously didn’t have them prepared out the gate” coach Conlin said “we have to do a better job in our preparation.”
On the offensive side of the ball freshman Tim DeMoratt seemed to forget the fundamentals that led to his three touchdown performance the week prior. His opening three drives matched the tepidness of the defense, with good protection and a lively Tyriek Hopkins at tailback, his touch failed him time and time again during the entirety of the first quarter.
But down 21-3 to end the first quarter, what looked sure to be another Saturday afternoon route in the Bronx turned into a must see event.
DeMoratt led his team the remaining 94- yards for a touchdown and with the defense holding strong, found Isaiah Searight to close the half trailing 21-20.
“We felt great about Tim” Tomlin said “when he has it dialed in, we’ll take that from our quarterback any day of the week.”
Both offenses took center stage in the second half as DeMorratt came out firing. Hopkins capped off the opening drive with a 14-yard touchdown run giving the Rams their first lead on the day. Bryant quarterback Price Wilson answered the drive with one of his own, quickly tying the score at 27 and evolving a game dominated on the ground into an exciting shootout.
Three touchdowns given up in succession were followed by three stops in a row by a Fordham defense beginning to settle in. Those defensive stops provided DeMorratt time to find his footing, and just in time as the offense found themselves in trouble on their own six in the second quarter.
“I told them when you leave this locker room be ready for a fight” Tomlin said of his halftime speech “and it certainly was, it went back and forth throughout the second half.”
But at the heart of this throwing contest was the special teams. Fordham blocked two extra points in a row, one to keep the game locked at 27, and the next to preserve the lead at 34-33. They proved instrumental down the stretch, giving their team the opportunity to close the game out.
“Really happy with the effort special teams put in” Tomlin said “the last two weeks they’ve had good energy and the coaches have done a great job”
With over 500 yards and five touchdowns through the air, between the two teams at the end of the third quarter the fourth inevitably became a showdown between the freshman and senior quarterbacks, and they did not disappoint. DeMoratt stretched the lead to 41-33 to start the quarter only for Wilson to answer with less than two minutes remaining.
But with the score at 41-39 due to the blocked extra points, the Bulldogs failed in their two-point conversion attempt.
Bryant was able to get the ball back with a little over one minute remaining, but it was only after a fourth down offside blunder by the Fordham defense where they found themselves in a position to attempt a field goal with four seconds left.
And what appeared to be a Fordham win resulted in another loss which dropped their season mark to 1-6 with four games remaining.
Kicker Luke Samperi completed the 42-yard field goal, and with zero made in his career easily had the biggest moment in his sophomore year as those at Jack Coffey Field looked on in disbelief.
I’m sure it was a great game to watch” Conlin said “But you can’t make the mistakes we made and expect to win”
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