Fordham Football was able to get back on track this weekend with a 24-16 victory over the Bucknell University Bison during Family Weekend at the Rose Hill campus. This was the final home game of the regular season for the Rams, who have 11 seniors that played their final regular season game at Jack Coffey Field. They include tight end Phazan Odom, defensive back JQ Bowers, offensive lineman Garrick Mayweather and wide receiver Ben Johnson. Graduate students Stephen Hodge and Lourenzo Smith will also be leaving the team after this season.
“It was tremendous for those guys,” head coach Joe Moorhead said of the seniors. “These guys were our first true recruiting class and they believed in the vision of our program and were able to make it happen.”
The Rams got the ball to start the game, but were forced into a three and out by the Bison defense. Bucknell responded with a 91-yd touchdown drive capped off by running back Matt DelMauro’s one-yard touchdown run to make it 7-0 Bucknell. Both teams exchanged punts, but on Fordham’s third drive of the game, junior quarterback Kevin Anderson found freshman wide out Jonathan Lumley down the sidelines for a 43-yd reception down to the Bison two-yard line on the second play. Anderson found Lumley two plays later in the endzone for a six-yard touchdown reception to tie the game at seven.
In the second quarter, the Rams punted back to Bucknell and the Bison drove 82 yards down the field to the Fordham eight-yard line before setting up for a field goal. The Bison sent out Alex Pechin for the first time this season, but Bucknell’s struggles in the kicking game continued as he missed a 25-yd field goal to keep the game at 7-7. The teams exchanged three and out drives, followed by an Anderson interception deep in Fordham territory which resulted in a 37-yd field goal for the Bison to make it 10-7.
The Rams were again forced into a three and out and Bucknell got the ball back with 1:20 to go in the half. The Rams stopped the Bison with 31 seconds left, and Anderson found freshman wide out Jordan Allen 48 yards down the field to set up a 38-yd field goal by sophomore kicker Alejandro Cardenas, which allowed Fordham to head into halftime tied with the Bison at 10.
The Bison received the ball first in the second half, but junior George Dawson and the Fordham defense forced a fumble off Bucknell quarterback R.J. Nitti at the Bucknell 43. The Rams responded with a five-yard touchdown pass from Anderson to senior tight end Phazan Odom to give Fordham its first lead of the game, 17-10. The Rams got the ball back after a Bucknell punt, but Anderson was picked off for the second time in the game to give the ball back to the Bison.
Bucknell ended up punting the ball away and the Rams went 88 yards on their ensuing drive, but had a 27-yd field goal partially blocked early in the fourth quarter to keep it a seven point game. Bucknell and Fordham exchanged three and outs twice, and with 4:42 left in the game the Bison got the ball back. A Fordham interception on fourth down was negated by a defensive holding penalty, and late in the drive Nitti found Bobby Kaslander from five yards out to give Bucknell its first score of the second half and make it a 17-16 game. Instead of trying to tie the game with less than two minutes to play, Bucknell went for two, but Nitti was intercepted in the end zone to keep it a one-point advantage for Fordham.
The onside kick was recovered by Fordham and the drive ended with a 22-yd touchdown by sophomore running back Chase Edmonds to make it 24-16.
Dawson, who also had a team-high ten tackles, two sacks for a loss of 25 yards and a forced fumble on the day, was named FCS National Defensive Player of the Week along with Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week. “It’s something I’ve been working for, just to get recognized nationally,” Dawon said. “I’ve just been playing hard this season and the stats just piled up this game. I was just really thankful.”
For Bucknell, DelMauro had a great game running for 168 yards and a touchdown, while Nitti had 222 yards on 19-31 passing and a score.
Edmonds, who was wearing number 26 in honor of junior wide receiver Robbie Cantelli who suffered a season ending knee injury last week, was held to just 62 yards on the ground, 71 total, but did have the touchdown to put the game out of reach late. Anderson threw for 296 yards on 20-27 passing with two interceptions, and Allen had 98 yards receiving.
The Rams improved to 8-2 on the season and 4-1 in Patriot League play. Colgate remained undefeated in conference play, maintaining its one game lead over the Rams.
Fordham travels down to Washington D.C. to take on Georgetown for its final game of the regular season on Saturday, Nov. 14, at 12 p.m. and will have its bye week on the last week of the regular season.
“We have to continue to control what we can control, that’s how well we prepare for Georgetown and how well we play in the game and hopefully get the win and let the chips fall where they may,” Moorhead said regarding the playoffs. “There’s a couple of scenarios that play out where we can win the league, but if we don’t and we finish 9-2 and we’re not selected as an at-large bid for the playoffs I think that’ll be a crime.”