Fordham Football Drops Third Straight to Start Season


The Stony Brook and Fordham lines matching up on Saturday night. (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

By Jimmy Sullivan

The Stony Brook and Fordham lines matching up on Saturday night. (Julia Comerford/The Fordham Ram)

Fordham Football conceded its third blowout in as many games in the home opener on Saturday, falling 28-6 at the hands of Stony Brook.

An 0-3 start is not what Fordham Football wanted to begin this season. That being said, starting off against an FBS opponent and two nationally-ranked FCS teams is hardly an easy way to begin a campaign. A part of this probably should have been expected.

The way Fordham has lost its games in 2018, though, is concerning.

It was a night that started inauspiciously for the Rams, as the offense suffered a false start on the first play from scrimmage. After a completion by senior quarterback Luke Medlock to senior wide receiver Austin Longi and a run of no gain by junior running back Tyriek Hopkins, Medlock threw an interception to Stony Brook’s Jordan Scarbrough, who took it to the house. Medlock had just thrown his third pick in two games and his fifth overall interception of the year. It was déjà vu all over again for head coach Joe Conlin’s team.

Medlock’s second pick of the night came on the next drive and ended a promising Rams series at the Stony Brook 32. It came off a batted ball, and though it would be unfair to put blame on the senior quarterback, two turnovers to start the evening isn’t exactly the start he or the team were hoping for.

The Seawolves punched in their second touchdown of the night when quarterback Joe Carbone hit Nick Anderson for a 26-yard strike to push the score to 14-0. Desperately needing some signs of life on the next possession, Fordham instead gave the ball away before its offense could even come back on the field. Hopkins lost the ball on the kickoff, and after a Stony Brook recovery and two runs by Jordan Gowins, the score was 21-0.

After this sequence of events, the game was never in doubt. Hopkins had a particularly rough evening; he later muffed a kickoff and was tackled at his own three-yard line and also struggled in pass protection. Fordham’s offensive line has been generally poor so far this year, and the team is undoubtedly feeling the effects of losing stalwart lineman Anthony Coyle to graduation. On this night, though, the offensive line had arguably its worst game of the season.

If you want a sense of how things went for the Rams, they finished the evening with a net rushing total of -7 yards. That is not a typo. Negative. Seven. But what’s even more startling is that this stat is not an anomaly; in the first 12 quarters Fordham has played in the 2018 season, the team has ran for a net total of -19 yards. This stat rankles Conlin, who spent the past nine seasons as an offensive line coach at three different schools.

“We gotta do a better job up front,” Conlin said. “We gotta do a better job finishing our runs at the running back position.” Conlin also made sure to note that the offensive line started two freshmen (left guard Austin Glazier and right tackle Phil Saleh). But make no mistake; he is not treating the youth in their lineup as an excuse.

“We gotta be able to put guys in there and have success. That’s something we’ll obviously take a close look at because it’s unacceptable; the ground game on the season is unacceptable and we need to fix it.”

We already knew going into Saturday night’s game that the offensive line was an issue for the Rams. What many wanted to see was how Luke Medlock would fare after back-to-back pedestrian showings. His performance improved after the two early interceptions, but it was far from an unqualified success.

He ended the night with 149 passing yards and only completed 16 of his 37 pass attempts. After the home opener, Medlock has now thrown six interceptions and just one touchdown in the team’s first three games. In fairness to him, he was under consistent heat from the Stony Brook defense all night, and he likely would have fared better with more time to throw. Regardless, Conlin and the coaching staff opted, for the second straight week, to play true freshman Tim DeMorat in a relief role with the game already decided.

The Merritt Island, Florida native had his ups and his downs in his brief stint at quarterback. After hitting Isaiah Searight for 22 yards on his second play from scrimmage, he hit Stony Brook corner Damarcus Miller in the numbers on his fifth snap. And so it went for the rest of the game, but DeMorat flashed the potential that drew schools to him on the team’s final possession of the evening.

The Rams got back-to-back first downs with a 14-yard pass to freshman running back Naim Mayfield and a 26-yard strike to Longi which left Fordham at Stony Brook’s 31. After after a short completion to Searight, DeMorat hit senior receiver Corey Caddle with a 29-yard bomb to the back corner of the end zone. The throw was placed in the perfect position to allow Caddle’s speed to run it down. Yes, it was a topsy-turvy night (6-10, 96 yards, TD, INT), but DeMorat showed why Fordham should be excited about his future.

As for the present, Fordham may have an interesting dilemma with its quarterback situation.

“We gotta look at the film and things like that, but certainly we’ve taken notice of that,” said Conlin. “The team seems to respond to Timmy, he can make some plays and improvise and things like that, so we’ll see.”

Conlin also took a similarly noncommittal tact in his postgame interview on WFUV, and when asked if there was any scenario in which DeMorat could start next week, he said, “Everything is always in play,” he said “We tell these guys all the time that no one’s job is etched in stone, so everything’s in play, but that’s not a thing I can answer right now.”

If everything really is in play, then we will need to monitor the Rams’ quarterback situation closely in the coming week. The Rams take on Central Connecticut State at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, and then the team has its bye week before closing a three-game homestand with Georgetown on Oct. 6. It remains to be seen how much Conlin and his staff want to shake things up with a bye week coming right after Saturday’s game.

It should also be noted that both of DeMorat’s performances this season have come after the game has already been decided. If he is to be the starter at some point this season, he’ll need to prove that he can handle things in more pressurized situations. Medlock also has a major edge in experience, as he spent the last three seasons as Kevin Anderson’s backup and filled in capably when Anderson went down at various points last season. Despite his struggles, there is something to be said for Luke Medlock’s experience and expertise, even if his struggles make him look more like a freshman than a senior.

Fordham is 0-3. The Rams have been outscored 114-23 in those three losses. Their running game has quite literally gone backwards. Oh, and by the way, they may have a quarterback controversy on their hands, as well.