Football Loses on the Road to Colgate

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Football Loses on the Road to Colgate

Dylan Balsamo, Assistant Sports Editor

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The weather is getting colder. The leaves are changing their color. You can hear the voices of Mariah Carey and Michael Buble begin to crescendo into the final month and a half of the year.

What all of this means is that the college football regular season is almost over. As the temperature drops, the good teams will stay in the spotlight while they fight for contention in their respective conferences’ postseason race, and the bad teams will fall to the wayside.

For the Fordham Rams, the latter has become the standard practice, and with only a couple of weeks remaining, it looks like 2019 will be more of the same.

On a chilly Saturday afternoon at Colgate University Andy Kerr Stadium, the Rams fell to 3–7 on the year and 1–3 against Patriot League opponents, as they lost a road matchup against the Raiders 24–13. Colgate goes to 3–8, with a 2–3 record in the conference.

And if it were not for the Rams’ stellar defensive performance on Saturday, the margin of defeat could have been much wider.

The Raiders had first possession of the ball following kickoff and were immediately off to the races. They ate up a big chunk of time in the first quarter, holding onto the ball in that drive for 4:08, and in 10 plays, they marched 75 yards before Fordham bequeathed the first touchdown of the afternoon, with running back Alex Matthews rushing for a 10-yard score.

Before having the ball, the Rams were down 7-0. Unfortunately, this territory was not unfamiliar.

Luckily for the Rams, they were able to respond, albeit not with a touchdown of their own. They needed just 2:08 to go just short of 60 yards downfield, and junior kicker Andrew Mevis secured three points with a 37-yard field goal. At a score of 7–3, the Rams had kept themselves in the conversation. Midway through the second quarter, the Rams actually found themselves in the lead, as junior running back Trey Sneed found himself in the end zone at the end of a 6-yard run, capping off a quick, 1:06 scoring drive to give the Rams a 10–7 lead. That was the closest they would find themselves to victory on the day.

Before halftime, the Raiders had an answer for the Rams, and it gave them a lead they would not relinquish. With just 13 seconds left to play in the second, Colgate quarterback Nick Diaco hit his receiver Michael Kane for a 4-yarder that would cap off a drive that was 80 yards in eight plays, giving them a 14-10 advantage over Fordham. That score would hold firm as both teams headed to the locker rooms for halftime.

It was not a strong first half offensively for the Rams in any sense of the word. Sophomore quarterback Tim DeMorat likes to throw the football, and he had not yet come close to recording a touchdown. On that end of the ball, the Rams were not playing to their strengths, or at least what they had seemed to display as their strengths throughout the length of a difficult season.

They would go on to do more of that in the last half hour of play.

The Rams would only have one more scoring play in the game, and it would come on the opening drive of the third. They took up a big chunk of time, 5:19 to be exact. After 12 plays, they had Mevis in position to kick another, this one for 42 yards, and he hit it. That field goal would count for Mevis’ 26th in his career as a Fordham Ram, placing him at sixth on the program’s all-time list. And he’s still a junior.

But nevertheless, the Rams still trailed Colgate by a point. It was 14–13 with 9:41 to go in the third.

The only other two scoring plays in the rest of the game belonged to the Raiders. Before the third was complete, Colgate had another 5+ minute drive, as it had a 68-yard possession that resulted in a pass to receiver Grant Breneman from Diaco for 23 yards into the end zone.

In the fourth, the Raiders sealed the deal on Fordham, as their kicker, Chris Puzzi, nailed one from 23 yards out to end yet another 5+ minute drive and put the score at 24–13, where it stayed.

In the postgame, Fordham head coach Joe Conlin was quite blunt:
“We didn’t play well enough to win,” he said. “The defense didn’t make timely stops and the running game couldn’t get going.”

Now, while the defense did not make timely stops, they certainly held their own in the game, putting out what was perhaps their best performance of the season. The star of the day is no stranger to the spotlight, as sophomore linebacker Ryan Greenhagen had another lifetime game. He made a career-high 19 tackles, topping his previous career high of 14 against Richmond University last year. Overall, the defense made 89 total tackles, an impressive number that is usually enough to give your team a chance to win.

Mevis was another high point in the game for Fordham. Not only can he kick field goals at a record pace, but he is also an outstanding punter. He averaged 42 yards per punt against the Raiders, and his 7,983 total punting yards put him third on the all-time Fordham list.

The big issue of the day for the Rams was, like Conlin said, the running game. Fordham had just 33 total rushing yards, and, in the fourth quarter, they held the ball for just 1:49. “But we have to put this behind us and move on and get ready for Holy Cross next week,” said Conlin.

That game will be Fordham’s last chance at fighting for a .500 record in conference play in the 2019 season. The next matchup against the Crusaders will be Saturday, Nov. 16 at 1:00 p.m. at Fordham’s Jack Coffey Field. After that, the Rams have one more game, also at home.

Fordham has one last shot at keeping a season filled with excitement and promise from slipping away. And if their loss against Colgate is any sign, it just might.