Fordham and Holy Cross are accustomed to back-and-forth touchdowns and extra points because it’s a part of their rivalry. Last year, there was a combined 105 points up in Worcester as the Rams lost 53-52 in overtime and was significant in the Patriot League standings.
So, a barrage of points and late game heroics are a part of this storied rivalry that goes back to 1902, and this one Saturday afternoon up at Rose Hill was no different. Over 7,000 at Moglia Stadium at Jack Coffey Field for Family Weekend got their share of points and a last minute outcome.
The Rams, though similar to that game last year, came up short. And, of course this time a combined 96 points in a back-and-forth 49-47 loss. Holy Cross with their defense stopping a two point conversion with 54 seconds remaining was the difference.
Then again, these two teams are made for offense with two quarterbacks among the Patriot League leaders. But in the end a loss for Fordham (5-3, 1-2 Patriot League) brings more importance to a league game with Bucknell next Saturday afternoon up at Rose Hill.
No panic for the Rams as they have become an offensive machine, but the defense has become a concern and again costly penalties need to be fixed. There is time and Fordham is certainly in the mix for a league title with three games remaining, including Bucknell at home next Saturday. The last two are league games at Lafayette and Colgate.
“Playing one game at a time,” said Rams coach Joe Conlin. “Can’t control anything beyond the Bucknell game. This thing is still wide open. It’s pretty much week for week. Told the guys we have a good football team.”
“One game at a time, one practice at a time,” quarterback C.J. Montes said about the loss and his career high 410 yards with four touchdowns. Montes has thrown 21 touchdown passes in his first eight games as the Rams starting quarterback, tying him with Mike Nebrich who also threw 21 scoring passes in his first year as the Fordham starter along with Kevin Anderson in 2015.
Montes again a positive to the loss. He drove the Rams 79 yards in four minutes leading to Julius Loughridge scoring on a 4-yard run that got the Rams within reach. The two-point conversion stopped after a shovel pass from Montes.
This time Holy Cross and their defense was the difference, but there was no stopping their offense that made this one a replica from last year. Montes, though, continues to frustrate opposing defensive lines. He throws and runs well out of the pocket.
And if the Rams had not been hit for a loss because of penalty yards (81) including an opening first quarter drive that prevented a score, plus a key interception in the final quarter, that could have been the difference. Regardless, the Fordham offense amassed over 600 total yards. Julius Loughridge scored three touchdowns, the last four yards got the Rams to that failed conversion attempt.
A barrage of points that came up short but a Fordham team that continues to prove their point, in particular each time they meet Holy Cross.
“Defensively can’t let them run the ball like they did in the second half ,” Conlin said. “Defending the pass have to do a better job,” Holy Cross (5-3, 3-1 Patriot League) also had their barrage amassing 466 yards, then again this has become a typical Fordham-Holy Cross game.
Fordham amassed all this offense, they entered the game having thrown the second most touchdowns passes of any NCAA FCS school over the past two years but they need to stop the rush and defend the long pass. Conlin said there are things to work on as the Rams reach their stretch run.
And last year was attributed to quarterback Tim Demorat, a three-time Patriot League Football Offensive Player of the Year with his 56 touchdown passes. But this Holy Cross team is difficult to beat, now seven straight wins over the Rams. Montes and a good many of the Rams will see them again, a young Fordham team that learned from this tough loss.
“They’re good,” Conlin said. “We seem to have bad luck against them. They have a good team, good offensive line.” But take nothing away from Holy Cross and another barrage of points when they meet again next year.
Rich Mancuso: X (formerly Twitter) @Ring786 Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso