Fordham Wins Home Matchup With Richmond

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Fordham Wins Home Matchup With Richmond

Freshman Fotis Kokosioulis made this touchdown catch to end the first half. It would be his first of two on the day. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Freshman Fotis Kokosioulis made this touchdown catch to end the first half. It would be his first of two on the day. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Freshman Fotis Kokosioulis made this touchdown catch to end the first half. It would be his first of two on the day. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Freshman Fotis Kokosioulis made this touchdown catch to end the first half. It would be his first of two on the day. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Dylan Balsamo, Assistant Sports Editor

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As Saturday morning turned into Saturday afternoon, Fordham Football prepared for its home matchup at Jack Coffey Field against the University of Richmond Spiders.

Cars full of parents decked head-to-toe in maroon pulled into the parking lot, grilled up some chopped meat and made their way into the bleachers. It was Family Weekend on the Rose Hill campus in the Bronx, and it just so happened to coincide with the Rams’ first home game since their opening night loss to Central Connecticut State, a sting that could still be felt on that afternoon.

This time around, however, in a game they were supposed to lose by a fair margin, Fordham walked off Jack Coffey victorious, holding off the Spiders and earning its second win of the season by a score of 23–16.

This was the Rams’ second consecutive week taking on an opponent from the Colonial Athletic Association (CAA). After the previous Saturday’s 45–10 loss on the road to Stony Brook, the one-score victory against Richmond not only put Fordham at 2–3 but it also put them back on the right track.

After about 20 minutes of play in the Bronx on Saturday, it seemed as if Richmond would take care of business as it was expected to and make very light work of Fordham. The only scoring in the first quarter came in the form a Jake Larson 37-yard field goal to give the Spiders a 3–0 lead and put the finishing touch of a gritty, five minute, 11-play drive.

Having possession again five or so minutes into the second quarter, the Spiders got the job done again, this time in the form of a touchdown. Richmond starting Quarterback Beau English hit receiver Charlie Fessler with a 10-yard pass to score and bring the score to 10–0.

But once Fordham found its footing in the second quarter, the Rams gained control of the game.

Three minutes after the Spiders had extended their lead, Fordham junior kicker Andrew Mevis continued his outstanding season, hitting a 24-yarder good for three points. Before halftime hit, the Rams completed a five minute, 14-play drive, good for 69 yards when sophomore quarterback Tim DeMorat hit his fellow sophomore — wide receiver Fotis Kokosoulis — for a 12-yard pass and evened the score at 10–10 as the squads went to the locker rooms for halftime.

In the third quarter, after almost 12 minutes of back-and-forth unsuccessful drives, Richmond grabbed back the lead. Larson kicked another field goal, this one for 32 yards, bringing the score to 13–10 in favor of the Spiders.

However, in the final five minutes of the quarter, the Rams were in control, scoring two touchdowns; the first a one-yard pass to Kokosoulis and the second a 3-yard run from DeMorat himself. Those two scoring drives resulted in 13 points, the first touchdown saw Mevis miss the extra point attempt for his first failed kick of the season, and lifted the Rams to a 10-point lead at 23–13.

Early in the fourth quarter, Richmond got itself on the board again. Larson, nailing his third field goal of the game, kicked his longest three-pointer of the afternoon, scoring from 41 yards out and bringing the game within one possession at 23–16. It was after that play that the Fordham defense locked in and took the game into its own hands.

As has been the usual, that defense was led by sophomore linebacker Ryan Greenhagen. He has been the Patriot League’s Defensive Player of the Week for the past two weeks, and on Saturday, he made his best case for a third. With 14 tackles, 4.5 tackles for loss and a sack, he led a Fordham force that kept the Spiders to just 65 yards on the ground and stopped them from both of their attempts at fourth down conversions.

“I’m proud of the way our defense played,” remarked Fordham Football head coach Joe Conlin. “Holding those guys to 65 yards rushing was pretty special.”

It was extra special considering this was a Richmond team that was expected to knock the Rams’ socks off on their turf.

Richmond would have two more possessions before the final whistle sounded, both of which ended in turnovers. The latter came in the final minute when the Spiders were just a few yards away from the end zone and seemingly about to tie the game.

It was during a throw by English into the Rams’ end zone that the junior defensive back Dervin Hylton Jr. picked off the potential game-tying pass, kept the affair from heading into overtime and sealed the deal on a Rams victory with under a minute left to play.

In a game that ended up being surprisingly evenly-matched, Kokosoulis was a clear standout on the field:  With his two touchdowns, he ended up with nine catches that were good for 45 yards. His quarterback, DeMorat, threw for 142 yards in his 20 completed passes.

“I thought Timmy [DeMorat] played his best game,” Conlin continued. “He got the ball out quick, made some decisions and did damage with his legs.”
Those legs are what put the Rams’ last touchdown into the end zone and gave them the score that would eventually prove itself to be the game-winner.

Collectively, the strongest offensive point for Fordham was its running game, which finished with a total of 191 rushing yards that game. Junior running back Zach Davis had an exemplary day, leading the charge with his 146 yards on 13 carries of the ball.

But the team that was supposed to be so good — Richmond — now falls to 1–3, as the Spiders continue to lose ground in the CAA.

As for Fordham, it’s 2–3 record is a means for celebration. Up next for the Rams: a two-game road trip that begins with next Saturday’s matchup, a little bit up north, against the Yale Bulldogs in a 1 p.m. game in New Haven, Conn. It will be the 10th ever football meeting between Fordham and Yale, the program where Conlin once served as offensive coordinator.

For these Rams, the dog days of the season may be just beginning.