Coaches will tell you they’re no “gimmes” in football. No opponent is easy. Players, fans and even some media members know better. Outside of Fordham’s coaching staff, pretty much anyone looking at their schedule circled Bryant as a win. Sandwiched between Ball State and Stony Brook, it was also supposed to be a needed breather. But entering the final stanza on Saturday afternoon, and with the Bulldogs holding a 14-6 lead, Fordham’s staff was being proven correct. Then again, there’s nothing new about Bryant beating Fordham. In each of the past two seasons the Rams took what for them had been the rare role of favorites while stumbling into contests against the Bulldogs. Both times Fordham blew fourth quarter leads in snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. This time around the Maroon would have to come up with the steal. Instead, the visiting Rams simply dominated in a way they should have all along.
Offensively, four fourth quarter possessions led to a field goal and three touchdowns. Defensively, Fordham limited the Rhode Island side to two three-and-outs, a four-and-out and a pick as the Rams turned the 14-6 deficit into a 29-14 victory. In the process they bludgeoned their hosts, 172 yards to 39. Four late sacks helped close the deal as Fordham’s front four spent the final period teeing off on the worn out canines. Despite the mismatched ending, things certainly didn’t start that way. Not by a long shot.
Just as in previous encounters with Bryant, the Rams opened sloppily. A third down targeting call on Fordham’s All-Everything linebacker Glenn Cunningham, extended an early drive for the home squad. The automatic ejection of Fordham’s best defender seemed to open things up for an offense that had previously only scored a total of 13 points (7 of them in garbage time last week) in their previous two weeks. With the wind at his back, junior thrower Chris Hindle, was able to get off a few dump passes that slowly kept the chains moving until sophomore bruiser Dan Adeboboye (22 carries for 99 yards), rumbled home to spot the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead after one.
Even with the wind to his back for the second, Fordham’s Tim DeMorat, couldn’t find his touch as the Rams turned to their own bruiser, Trey Snead. The Rutgers transfer took the rock 8 times for 35 yards on a drive that got Fordham within four thanks to an Andrew Mevis chip shot. The junior nailed another short kick to get within one at the break.
As inaccurate as DeMorat had been with the wind, he was worse without it. Throws seemed weak and lacking in zip as duck after duck missed their marks. Hindle was no Picasso either. Still, one big toss, a 38 yard bomb to freshman Anthony Frederick for six, was the difference in an otherwise uneventful, and at times rainy, third. That difference maker was enough to make things more than a little tense on the soggy Rams sideline. With just a quarter to go, the season was on the brink. For many, this was supposed to be Fordham’s respite from an otherwise daunting non-conference schedule. This was supposed to be their breakout game. They’d settle for a breakout quarter.
Although Snead (17 carries for 75 yards) and diminutive sophomore, Naim Mayfield (4 carries for 27 yards), had their moments, money time was reserved for Zach Davis. The slasher put the Rams on his back in leading a drive to bring Fordham within 14-9. With the wind at Fordham’s back, the Rams were just getting started. DeMorat matched the Hindle touchdown bomb with one of his own, a 45 yarder to sophomore Fotis Kokosioulis, for Fordham’s first lead of the day. From there it was back to Davis. A 6 yard run was followed by another 6 yard run which was followed by a 48 yard burst to just about ice things. Davis ended with 20 carries for 140 yards but 103 of them (on 13 carries) came during Fordham’s last four possessions. For Fordham the battle in the trenches was just as decisive defensively. After getting a loss of downs, the Rams added another touchdown for the 29-14 final and their first win of the year.
In the end the coaches proved their point about no opponent being easy. Everyone else had their point proven too as, for a quarter at least, the Rams manhandled a weaker club. It’ll be a different story next week on Long Island. Fordham tackles Stony Brook and, as every coach will tell you, will have to be on for all four periods to have any shot there.