Football Ends Season With Win Over Bucknell

Dylan Balsamo, Assistant Sports Editor

The 2019 season for Fordham Football has been very much like a hot tea. Along the way there were saccharine tastes of sugar that were enough to keep a person yearning for more. However, there was also the soury tang of lemon that gives you a bad taste in your mouth and occasional burnings of the tongue from what you soon realize is nothing more than just flavored hot water. But what gets remembered is what falls to the bottom, the final thing you taste: the honey.

That honey is the 31–14 Rams home win over Bucknell on Nov. 23, not only ending the season for Fordham on a high note, but also did the same for the college careers of their seniors. It is the fourth consecutive season that Fordham has defeated the Bison on the final day of the season. With the win, the Rams finish their season at 4–8 with a 2–4 mark in the Patriot League, while Bucknell goes to 3–8 with a 3–3 record in the conference.

As is tradition for the final home game of the season, the Rams held their Senior Day ceremonies on the field before kickoff, honoring their five seniors: running back Tyriek Hopkins, defensive back Jesse Bramble, wide receiver Joe Ferraro, wide receiver Jonathan Lumley and defensive lineman Michael Ware. As has been the case for the graduating classes in the handful of years prior to them, these Rams got to go out on top with a victory over the Bison.

When it came to the game itself, the affair started off fairly quiet. The only scoring that occurred in the first quarter was in favor of Fordham: Sophomore quarterback Tim DeMorat (finishing up a strong season at the position for the Rams) capped off a 61-yard drive with a score in the form of a 3-yard run, putting his squad up 7–0 after the opening 15 minutes.

About halfway through the second quarter, Fordham got on the board again. Ending a 5:12 drive, junior kicker Andrew Mevis (who finishes 2019 flirting with Fordham records and still with a season of eligibility) kicked a 44-yard field goal through the uprights to get Fordham a 10–0 lead.

Towards the end of the first half is when things got a bit wacky.

With two minutes to go in the half, Fordham had the ball at its own 5-yard line, and they fumbled. Linebacker Rick Mottram was the one who picked it up for Bucknell, returning it back into the Rams’ end zone and getting his team on the scoreboard with their first touchdown of the game. Thirty seconds later on the game clock, DeMorat threw a pass that was intercepted by corner Micah Dennis for Bucknell. He returned the ball 39 yards to make two touchdowns for Bucknell without the offense even touching the ball.

In the blink of an eye, Fordham’s 10–0 second quarter lead turned into a 14–10 deficit at halftime.

But that was all the scoring that Bucknell would be doing that day. The rest of the game was all Rams.

The score would remain the way it was until deep into the third quarter, when Fordham ran an Odyssey of a drive, marching 99 yards and taking 7:01 off the game clock. On the 17th play of the possession, junior running back Trey Sneed completed a 1-yard run that put Fordham back on top 17–14.

In securing their victory, the Rams would score twice more, both being near the end of the game. Sneed would run for another touchdown, this one a 15-yarder, and sophomore wide receiver Fotis Kokosioulis would be the recipient of another TD pass from DeMorat. And before long, the game was over. The final score was 31–14 Fordham.

The Rams defense did not allow the Bison offense to score once on the day. There was a feeling of jubilation and glee around Jack Coffey Field following the victory, clearly a homogeneous mixture of excitement over a home win, the finality of a season’s last game and the emotional highs of seniors whose college football roads have come to an end.

But as Fordham head coach Joe Conlin was quick to remind of in the postgame, the season overall was not nearly as euphoric.

“I think these guys are gonna leave the season with a little bit of frustration,” Conlin said. “We had an opportunity to win [the game against] Lehigh, … [we had a chance against] Lafayette, [for] two and a half quarters of the game against Holy Cross, we were the better team [and the game against] Central Connecticut came down to a field goal on a last second drive. Those are four games right there where had we done some things a little bit better, they could have gone our way.”

Had all of those games turned out differently, the Rams would have finished 8–4 overall, with a 5–1 conference record, and maybe would have squeezed into the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. But that was not the case.

Without that negative additive, the snapshot of Jack Coffey Field following the game was quite beautiful. Leaving the field was not only the entire Fordham squad but a good amount of the players parents and families. The Rams stood on the steps in front of the Rose Hill Gym and posed for pictures. They rang the victory bell. They sang the fight song. It made the chilly November air feel warm and celebratory.

The players stepped down from the steps, and many ran into the arms of their parents. Each player could feel a sense of accomplishment that they had completed the 2019 season. As for the seniors, they embraced their families with a whole other sense of finality: unless they were to have the chance to play football professionally, this was the end of their journey. Everything that they and their families had together worked towards for what was likely nearly two decades was done.

Two decades is a long time for any person, and for a college senior, it encompasses most of their entire life. This moment was more than just the end of a season. It was a milestone, a family accomplishment and a lifelong memory.

Even if it was not the greatest cup of tea, the 2019 Fordham Football season may have been worth it for this honey at the end.

Now, the Rams will look forward to 2020. They will have time to rest up, reassemble and go at brewing themselves another fresh cup.