On a rainy Saturday evening in the Bronx, Fordham football was unable to recapture the magic from last week’s triumph over Army West Point.
Instead, the team ran into a stingy Villanova defense, scoring just once in the game and losing 14-7. The highly anticipated showdown between the two nationally-ranked FCS squads turned out to be fairly slow-paced, with just three scores occurring during the 60 minutes of play.
“We just couldn’t get anything going on offense against a very good defense,” said head coach Joe Moorhead. “I don’t believe in moral victories, but I was pleased to see they way we competed against the No. 2 team in the country coming off of a great win against an FBS school.”
The Wildcats got on the board early by scoring on their first drive of the game. Their march down the field lasted around five minutes and culminated with a six-yd touchdown pass from quarterback and (reigning FCS Player of the Year) John Robertson to wide receiver Kevin Gulyas.
On its next drive, the restless Villanova offense fumbled the ball after advancing 32 yards on just three plays. However, Fordham failed to take advantage of its good fortune, advancing a negligible distance and finishing the first quarter without any points to its name.
Villanova wasted no time in the second quarter, charging down the field on a drive that included a 33-yd pass from Robertson to wide receiver Aaron Wells to get within the red zone. From there, Robertson and running back Javon White combined to run it in for a touchdown, extending the lead to 14.
After about a quarter-and-a-half, the Fordham offense finally got on the board. On the first down of their second drive of the second quarter, the Rams employed a trick play that involved freshman wide receiver Corey Caddle becoming the passer and finding senior wide receiver Tony Patrignelli for a 26-yd gain.
Regarding the unconventional play, Moorhead commented that Villanova possesses “an extremely aggressive defense and we felt this play took advantage of their pursuit to the ball.”
Fordham scored its first touchdown of the game when junior quarterback Kevin Anderson tossed a 20-yd bullet to Caddle, who was waiting in the end zone. On that drive, the Rams took advantage of good initial field position at the Villanova 43.
From there, the teams’ defenses took over, refusing to allow a single point for the remainder of the game. Villanova managed to drive 70 yards down the field during the third quarter, but the Rams caught another break when a second field goal attempt went wide. Meanwhile, Fordham did not return to the red zone for the rest of the game, with the new-look offense appearing to be overmatched against the opposition. The game’s final score was the same as its halftime score, 14-7 Villanova. Both teams now possess season records of 1-1.
A major factor in the Wildcats’ win was their ability to control Fordham’s most important weapon, sophomore running back Chase Edmonds. Last week’s FCS Player of the Week was held to just 74 rushing yards in the game, a far cry from his 126 yard, three touchdown performance at West Point.
Anderson, starting only his second game since his senior year of high school, was unable to compensate for that drop-off, not when he completed just nine of his 22 passes, a success rate of just over 40 percent.
The upside? Fordham’s new quarterback refrained from throwing an interception for the second consecutive week.
“There is a very high standard for quarterback play in this offense,” said Moorhead. “Kevin has all of the tools to be very successful, just like his predecessors. He’s played pretty well in the first two games. We are all excited about his potential. He just needs to continue to improve on a weekly basis.”
While it was not a banner night for the Fordham offense, several of the Rams’ defenders put up memorable performances. Junior defensive back
Jihaad Pretlow led the team with 10 tackles, while sophomore safety Caleb Ham delivered on nine and sophomore linebacker Niko Thorpe had seven, including three sacks.
The team will see its next action on Saturday afternoon at its annual homecoming game, this year against Columbia in the 23rd Liberty Cup. At the moment, Columbia leads the series 12-11, but Fordham has the home field advantage as it looks to win the equalizer. Kickoff is at 1 p.m. For the Lions, it will serve as their season opener.