Like Rams to the Slaughter

In a campaign that now stands at 1-8, Fordham has found defeat in many different forms. Never before however had they been beaten up like they were on Saturday afternoon against Colgate. Not this season, perhaps not ever. Despite “only” losing 41-0, the Rams were outclassed at every position except punter as the Raiders made it look like a battle of men vs. boys. The Rams were taken to the woodshed to the tune of 562 to 28 in terms of total yards. Despite Mark Twain’s line about lies, damn lies and statistics, Saturday’s stats painted the truest of pictures as Colgate also dominated first downs 21 to 4, time of possession 40+ minutes to less than 20, and turnovers, 2 to 1. And those numbers came with Colgate’s liberal use of fourth quarter substitutions, including turning to their third string quarterback to close things.

Before the season head coach, Joe Conlin, talked about transforming the once high-powered Rams into a ground-and-pound type team. He emphasized the importance of dominating both lines, establishing a strong running attack and, stopping the opponent’s ground game, as keys to victory. Naturally, the former Yale offensive coordinator used his old club as a blueprint for future success at Fordham. Still, Conlin could have looked no further than the Raiders as his model. Colgate acted like the personification of coach Conlin’s words while rushing for 364 yards, the team’s best in over 6 years, and relegating Fordham to, a new defensive record, -50 on the ground. The bulk of those negative yards came off 8 sacks, which the NCAA counts as rushing rather than passing yards, but even without factoring the sacks, Colgate still held Fordham to just 23 yards on 14 rushing attempts. On the other side of the ball, Fordham registered 5 sacks themselves. But, when not factoring in those numbers, Colgate actually rushed for 395 yards on 43 attempts on the ground. And even Twain would admit it looked every bit as lopsided as the numbers showed.

In fairness, Fordham’s defense got off to a decent start in forcing a punt to open the game. But it didn’t take much longer for the undefeated Colgate squad to show why they were the 29 point favorites. On a third-and-long from Fordham’s own 18, quarterback Tim DeMorat dropped back and was swallowed up in taking his first sack of the game. On the play the freshman fumbled to set up a first-and-goal for the Raiders. Two snaps later, All-League tailback James Holland Jr., ran it in for his first of two scores and the visitors never looked back. After trading punts, the Colgate senior broke free for a 52 yard dash to give the Raiders a 14-0 lead. After another Fordham punt Colgate turned to the air where sophomore quarterback, Grant Breneman, began picking apart the Rams’ aggressive cover-1 secondary.

Once in field goal range the Raiders then returned to Holland Jr., but this time Fordham was ready. Fittingly on Senior Day, it was senior linebacker, Lawrence Menyah, forcing a fumble and senior safety, Antonio Jackson, scooping it up for a 35 yard return to give the Rams their best starting field position of the day. Late in the first, and with the home side starting at the Colgate 44, cheers subsided as a slight tension surrounded the field. Even while still in the first quarter there was already a feel like this would be Fordham’s best and last shot at keeping things close. The first quarter was not over, but it already felt as if Fordham’s chances were. The Jackson run however offered a bit of a reprieve. Fordham would need to capitalize with a score to keep things from getting late early.

An incompletion, a two yard loss from junior halfback Tyriek Hopkins and another sack ended all hopes. The second quarter avalanche was coming and everyone knew it. After three straight long scoring drives, each dominated by the Breneman/Holland Jr. duo, Colgate went into the break up 31-0. They spent the third quarter on cruise control and the fourth checking out subs. Except for a Brenerman pass to start the fourth, on a drive that would increase the lead to 38-0, Colgate remained strictly on the ground. By then Holland Jr., 165 yards on 16 carries was already out of the game, as the Raiders sideline began celebrating what would become their third league title in four years. Breneman, 16-19 for 198 yards joined them soon later as even against the Raiders second team, and even with them running on every single play, Fordham’s defense simply could not get off the field. Offensively things were far worse for the Rams who, after the midway mark of the third quarter, failed to register another first down. Instead, every possession ended with an Andrew Mevis punt.

By the final stanza the small but feisty crowd turned somewhat sarcastic in, as if looking forward to his 4th down appearances, serenading the sophomore with “Meee-vis” chants. College wit aside, the Indiana native did bang out four different 50+ yarders while holding steady to a season average of 42 yards per attempt. He also finished the game one punt shy of a school record although not one Fordham would ever brag about. Still, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Mevis landed his third straight Patriot League Special Teams Player of the Week award. Unfortunately for the Rams, he’s been one of teams few bright spots, when not lining up for extra points at least, in a year that has been filled with disappointment.

Mercifully, Colgate ended their final drive by running out the clock at the Fordham six yard line. They then celebrated by racing onto the field and receiving their trophy for another league championship. On top of that, the Raiders celebrated their third straight shutout and fifth shutout of the season. In the process, the number one defense in all of FCS (formerly Division I-AA)vlowered their defensive average to an unforgiving 2.7 points per game.

For Fordham there was no celebrating. Once again the Rose Hill tradition of ringing the school’s victory bell directly after a home game would have to wait. This time the wait will be an entire year. In that sense, the Rams are partying like it’s 1999 as that was the last time Fordham has gone completely winless at Jack Coffey Field. Even so the home crowd seemed forgiving. Although few thought things would slip out of control this badly, most knew this would be a rebuilding year. The student section in particular had fun with Mevis and with bigheads made for other underclassman like Ryan Greenhagen (8 tackles) and Anthony Diodato, who recorded his third blocked kick of the season. Jordy Storm, a member of the 6-time defending Atlantic 10 champions softball squad joked “When it comes to Fordham, it’s the women’s teams that win.” This season she was proven correct. Still, with a freshman quarterback, freshman tailback, 4 out of 5 freshman or sophomore offensive linemen, an all sophomore defensive line and 2 out fo 3 freshman or sophomore linebackers, Fordham does have youth on its side. Thanks to Colgate they now know what the finished product should look like. But even while being completely crushed, the program has promise. Maybe not enough to challenge Colgate next year, but more than enough to get the victory bell ringing again.

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