Anybody who has been watching Fordham Football in 2019 knows that the team has talent. The amalgamation of players brought to the Bronx by the program in an assortment of different ways each have their individual athletic abilities that altogether make a pretty strong football team. It just takes some time for those pieces to learn how to fit together.
For the Rams, Saturday was the day they finally figured it out.
After keeping themselves in the game through the first three quarters, the Rams exploded for 23 points in the fourth to come out on top of Bryant on the road 29–14 in Smithfield, Rhode Island. This was the Fordham program’s first-ever win at Bryant, who is now coached by former Rams defensive coordinator Tom Masella. All that Fordham needed to find themselves as a team was just one bit of time to just completely dominate, whether that be a game, a half, or even a quarter. This fourth quarter may have been it.
The Rams entered Saturday’s game with Bryant 0–2, but of course, there is plenty more beyond those numbers. The opening night loss at home to Central Connecticut State was a hard-fought game that was only lost on a last-second field goal after icing the kicker. Week two’s matchup with Ball State was certainly no close game, but Fordham had both offensive and defensive standouts. There has been plenty of positives for the Rams thus far, and they were bound to click together sometime.
Their date with Bryant did not get off to the strongest of starts. After a few scoreless drives, Bryant got on the board first with Dan Adeboboye’s four-yard run that bookended an 85-yard march down the field. In the second quarter, not much else happened for the Rams or Bulldogs except for two Fordham drives that resulted in two field goals off of the foot of Andrew Mevis, one for 30 yards and the other for 27. By the end of the half, the score was 7–6 in favor of Bryant. Nobody had truly taken control of the game.
The third quarter: pretty much the same. Nobody had true control. However, in the middle of the third, Bryant made quick work of the Rams defense by going 57 yards downfield in a little over two minutes when Bulldogs quarterback Chris Hindle nailed a 38-yarder down to Anthony Frederick that put Bryant up 14–6, and that was the score after three periods of play.
The Rams had certainly not played a bad game. Bryant had won their last three meetings with Fordham, and there was only an eight-point difference in the affair. The Rams had not even gotten themselves a touchdown yet. They were yet to figure out how they functioned as a system, yet to turn their talent into an equation that resulted in them earning the victories they clearly were good enough to have.
By the fourth quarter, the Rams finally found its balance on offense.
Starting with a time-consuming drive of over six minutes that resulted in yet another field goal for Mevis — who also turned six of his seven kickoffs on the day into touchbacks — the Rams brought the difference to one scoring play, making it 14–9 with plenty of time to keep working towards Bryant. On their next possession, Fordham only needed 56 seconds to get the job done. On the third play of the drive, Fordham sophomore quarterback Tim DeMorat launched a 45-yard pass that found the hands of sophomore wide reciever Fotis Kokosioulis, good for a touchdown that made the score 15–14 in favor of the Rams.
Fordham was now leading the Bulldogs. For a team that was 0–2, such a situation was in no way new and unchartered territory, as the Rams led Central Connecticut in the fourth quarter in Week one. What the Rams did to Bryant and failed to do to CCSU two weeks beforehand was continue to push.
Just three minutes later, the ball was in junior running back Zach Davis’ hands, and he found his way from the Bulldogs’ 48 yard line to their endzone to give Fordham another seven points. At this point, it was 22–14, and the Rams showed no sign of letting up now.
With just a minute and a half left, Tim DeMorat gave himself seven points and TD, as he successfully completed the QB sneak and ran 20 yards for another Rams touchdown. The score was 29–14, and it would stay that way.
After two weeks of good football without success, the Rams had secured their first win of the young and promising season. It was a 23-point fourth quarter for Fordham, and it was very clear from those fifteen minutes that the team had found their key to success.
Saturday’s win was another testament to Fordham’s tendency to explode when they have possession of the ball. Compared to Bryant’s 13, the Rams converted for 23 first downs in the game.
Totaling 444 offensive yards, the wealth was spread quite well. Fordham rushed for 257 yards overall, and 140 yards came from Davis, who set his career-high with the total. Junior running back Trey Sneed and sophomore running back Naim Mayfield also had particularly good days on the ground, rushing for 75 and 27 yards, respectively.
Receiving wise, multiple Rams did their part to bring out a win on Saturday, with the top three catchers being junior wide receiver Hamze El-Zayat for 68 yards, Kokosioulis for 57 yards and freshman wide reciever Dequece Carter for 53 yards. The defense was led quite powerfully by sophomore linebacker Ryan Greenhagen, who totaled 10 tackles. Freshman defensive back Parker Spillers and junior defensive lineman Anthon Diodato both had 6.
The trip to Bryant was a success for the Rams. Up next, a Saturday evening meeting with Stony Brook on Long Island at 6:00 p.m. at Kenneth P. LaValle Stadium.
Just like Bellichick and Brady, good football programs are a system in which players can be plugged in like numbers and produce. Joe Conlin seems to have figured out the right formula moving forward.