Fordham Football’s season came to an end on Saturday, when they fell on the road to the Chattanooga Mocs 50-20 in the first round of the FCS Playoffs.
The Rams started with the ball and tried to set the tempo early, covering a 4th and short from their own 34, but were eventually forced to punt the ball back to the Mocs. Chattanooga responded on its first drive with a 38-yard touchdown run from sophomore Richardre Bagley to take an early 7-0 lead. The Rams then had a quick three and out, and the Mocs once again compiled an effective drive down the field, resulting in a 43-yard touchdown pass from senior quarterback Jacob Huesman to junior wide receiver C.J. Board to make it a 14-0 game.
On the Rams’ third drive, the backfield featured sophomore Jarred Brevard instead of feloow sophomore and Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year Chase Edmonds, who left the game with an ankle injury. Junior quarterback Kevin Anderson found freshman wide out Austin Longi all alone down the field on the first play of the drive, a play that would have made the score 14-7 if not for Longi tripping after 45 yards. That proved costly for Fordham, as just three plays later Anderson was intercepted by Moc sophomore Lucas Webb, who returned it all the way for a touchdown to make it 21-0 Chattanooga after one.
The second quarter did not go much better for the Rams, as their first drive was halted on a failed 4th and 1 conversion at the Moc 27. Chattanooga took over and converted a 23-yard field goal attempt to increase its lead to 24. The Rams punted on their next drive, and Chattanooga once again found the end zone when Huesman connected with Stovall from 13 yards out to make it a 31-0 score at the half.
The Mocs picked up right where they left off in the second half, scoring on their first drive with a Derrick Craine 14-yard touchdown run to make it 38-0 Chattanooga. The Rams finally broke through on their first drive of the half when Anderson hit senior tight end Phazahn Odom for a six-yard touchdown reception to make it 38-7 Mocs. The Rams limited the Mocs to another field goal on their next drive, and on the ensuing drive, Anderson aired it out to senior Ben Johnson for a 54-yard touchdown reception to make it a 41-14 score.
The Rams forced a Moc punt early in the 4th quarter, but the Rams were pinned deep in their own territory to start the drive. Fordham ended up punting out of its own end zone, and Chattanooga blocked the kick out of the back of the end zone, resulting in a safety and increasing its lead to 29. The Mocs drove down the field after the safety, but Fordham junior defensive lineman Emmanuel Adeyeye forced a fumble that the Rams recovered to stop the drive. The Rams responded with an Anderson touchdown pass to senior Tony Patrignelli from two yards out, but a failed two-point conversion kept the score 43-20 Mocs.
Chattanooga added a late touchdown on a Huesman 38-yard pass to Stovall, and the deficit was too much for Fordham to handle. The Rams were unable to convert on a fourth down in the end zone in the waning seconds, and fell by 30 in Tennessee.
Anderson had a good game for the Rams, throwing for 329 yards and three touchdowns, while Odom, Johnson and Patrignelli, all seniors, had a TD reception each. But the story of the game was Huesman, who had 211 yards through the air with three touchdowns and added 132 yards on the ground for Chattanooga. The Mocs go on to face No. 1 ranked Jacksonville St. in the 2nd round of the FCS playoffs on Saturday.
Although the season has come to an end, there is a lot to be proud of for this Ram team. The senior class, head coach Joe Moorhead’s first recruiting class, leaves with three straight FCS playoff appearances. They bought into Moorhead’s philosophy and were key pieces in transforming a program that had not won a single game just a few years ago into one that has become a consistent playoff threat over the last three years.
While Odom, Johnson, Patrignelli, Andrew Erenberg, JQ Bowers, David Barletta, Steven Samela, David Conroy, Nick Zawisha, Tim Donahue, Garrick Mayweather and graduate students Stephen Hodge and Lourenzo Smith all leave the team this year, there is still a solid core group of Fordham players returning next year. Anderson and Edmonds will lead the way for the offense with a young wide receiving group that now has a year of experience under its belt. The defense returns key pieces, including Adeyeye and juniors George Dawson and Jihaad Pretlow.
So while the season might have ended earlier than the team would have liked, expect the best football team in New York to be back with a vengeance next season.