Football Falls 48–24 to Yale


Fordham couldn't carry its momentum into week six, as the Rams lost on the road to Yale. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Dylan Balsamo, Assistant Sports Editor

With a 2–3 record in the 2019 season, the Fordham Rams football team looked to be moving in the right direction as a squad and hoping to compete near the top of the Patriot League, perhaps cracking a Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) playoff spot.

Then, on Saturday, they traveled to Yale University and were met quite unpleasantly by a Bulldogs team that walked off the gridiron 3–0. The final score at the Yale Bowl on Saturday was 48–24.

Rams head coach Joe Conlin was at one point an assistant coach at Yale, as he spent six years in New Haven before finding his way to the Bronx. If defeating a team by a wide margin is considered inhospitable, it was not a happy welcome home for Coach Conlin.

“I wish it had gone better,” Conlin said of the day’s affairs, a sentiment shared by his team. “Obviously it’s good to be back.  I certainly have a lot of respect for the team that’s on the other side and I have a lot of great memories of this place.”

The spread entering the afternoon matchup was actually 18.5 points in favor of Yale, so the Bulldogs’ win over the Rams was not entirely shocking.

What is eye-opening, however, is the 24-point margin by which Fordham fell on Saturday, a hard blow to a team that looked to be flying a bit higher after last week’s win over the University of Richmond. Who could blame the Rams for wishing things had gone better?

Yale got things started quickly on Saturday, as in the first 10 and a half minutes of the game, it found itself with a 10–0 lead, thanks to a three-yard touchdown run from Reed Klubnik, Fordham senior kicker Andrew Mevis’s blocked attempt at a field goal, and 33-yard field goal kick for the Bulldogs’ Sam Tuckerman. The Rams kept Yale on its toes, however, as on the next drive they needed only one play, a 70-yard pass from sophomore quarterback Tim DeMorat to sophomore wide receiver Fotis Kokosioulis, to make the game 10–7. But before the first quarter had come to an end, the Bulldogs had another touchdown, this one a three-yard run by Kurt Rawlings to keep the game 10 points in their favor after the opening 15 minutes.

After Fordham fumbled the ball at the end of the first quarter, Yale opened the second with possession and a quick touchdown, behind a three-play, 58-yard, 1:15 drive that was punctuated by Rawlings’ 48-yard TD pass, bringing the score to 24–7.

The Rams were scrambling, but were able to keep the game within two scores after a field goal on their next drive. Mevis redeemed himself with a 37-yarder. After that, for the second time already in the game, came the third consecutive scoring drive between the clubs, as Rawlings continued with his day of successful long passes downfield with JP Shohfi’s grab in the end zone for 69 yards.

After the Rams recorded the first punt of the afternoon, it was the Bulldogs who scored again, only needing two plays to put Rawlings into the end zone after Shohfi’s 37-yard punt return. That touchdown put the score at 38–10, and on the next play, DeMorat found one of his passes intercepted by Yale’s Kyle Ellis, who ran it back into Fordham’s end zone for 23 yards. That was the last play of the half. When the Rams entered the locker room at halftime, they were trailing 45–10.

That start put the Rams deep into a hole that would be almost impossible for anyone to get out of. In fact, in the last 18 minutes of the first half, Yale outscored Fordham 35–3. That score alone would have been a blowout of a game.

“We got down by too much too early,” Conlin said of the first half. The deficit was 35 points heading into the third quarter, one of their largest margins of the season. Yale was the clear favorite to win, but few could expect a score like this one after half an hour of play.

The Rams were able to keep Yale from getting into the end zone for the remainder of the game and fought back offensively with a couple of touchdowns in the second half, but they were up against Bulldogs running backs Elliot McElwain and Griffin O’Connor handling the ball during the third and fourth quarters.

The Rams’ two touchdowns came in the fourth quarter, with freshman tight end Jeff Ciccio catching a 33-yard pass from DeMorat and fellow freshman wideout Dequece Carter catching DeMorat’s 22-yard touchdown toss. But Yale’s 33-yard field goal from Tuckerman with under six minutes left in the game sealed the deal with an easy 24-point victory for the Bulldogs. The final score was 48–24. “I’m glad we fought back in the second half, but we need to do a better job at starting strong,” Conlin said of the third and fourth quarters.

Fordham was not without its positives on Saturday, though, specifically a couple of individual players. While DeMorat may have thrown an interception that resulted in one of Yale’s touchdowns, and on the ground he and the Fordham running backs only totaled 36 yards, DeMorat threw for 298 yards and three touchdowns, meaning he has thrown a touchdown in every game this season. And while Fordham defensively may have allowed Yale 495 total offensive yards in the game, sophomore linebacker and three-time reigning Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week Ryan Greenhagen had himself another outstanding performance on Saturday, with 12 tackles and 10 solo tackles, including one for a loss. The two fourth quarter Fordham touchdowns were both scored by freshmen, a testament to the Rams’ depth as a squad.

None of that was able to stop a Bulldogs offense that was putting on a clinic at the Yale Bowl on Saturday afternoon, as they threw for 381 yards and recorded 21 first downs. “Our job now is to get ready for the Patriot League opener against Georgetown next week,” said Conlin.

That matchup will be a telling one for Fordham, who is now 2–4, as it will be its first conference matchup of the year in a Patriot League that is bound to be challenging to navigate.

The game against the Georgetown Hoyas will be in Washington, D.C. on Oct. 12 at 2 p.m.