Football Wins Final Spring Game, Misses Out on Patriot League Championship

The+Rams+will+take+a+great+deal+away+from+an+abbreviated+spring+season+that+ended+with+two+imposing+wins%2C+despite+falling+one+step+short+of+competing+in+the+Patriot+League+Championship.+%28Courtesy+of+Fordham+Football%29

The Rams will take a great deal away from an abbreviated spring season that ended with two imposing wins, despite falling one step short of competing in the Patriot League Championship. (Courtesy of Fordham Football)

Dylan Balsamo, Managing Editor

Fordham Football waited a considerable amount of time to play a 2020 season, long enough where putting it in a number of days would almost be irrelevant. The long wait means that anything less than the greatest possible success can result in a frustrating disappointment. But sometimes if something isn’t the best potential outcome, it can still in many ways be a success.

The Rams ended their 2020-21 season with a victory, and a rather triumphant one at that, defeating Bucknell University with a score of 31-17 on the road at Christy Mathewson Memorial Stadium. With their eighth consecutive victory over the Bucknell Bison, Fordham hit a point of 2-1 at what looks to be their spring season’s end with their two wins emphasizing that. The 2-1 record was not enough to bring the Rams to first place during the extremely short season in the Patriot League’s one-off North division. The Holy Cross Crusaders’ 2-0 record and win over Fordham a few weeks ago got them that spot and a game against those same Bison in the Patriot League Championship Game on April 17. However, this does not keep this Rams’ football season, which could have easily not happened, from being one to look back on with a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment.

The game got off to a rather slow start, with the Bison being the only side in the first quarter. They found themselves up 3-0 after the opening 15 minutes thanks to a field goal off the foot of their kicker Ethan Torres, good for 39 yards and putting Bucknell up front against the Rams which, if the last decade is any indication, rarely happens. 

The eventful 15-minute period that followed made up for the teams’ slow starts. 

In their first possession of the second quarter, the Rams very quickly leveled the score, ending a 93-second possession with a field goal kick of their own coming from junior kicker Nick Leinenweber, making it 3-3. About 10 minutes later, the Rams nabbed the lead for the first time as junior quarterback Tim DeMorat fired his first of three touchdown passes, this one to sophomore wide receiver M.J. Wright for three yards, topping off an 87-yard drive and putting the Rams ahead by seven points. However, before the half closed, the Bison were able to even things up by getting a touchdown out of Coleman Bennett’s 23-yard run on the first play of the possession which evened the score as the game headed towards halftime. 

When the third quarter got started, Bucknell took back the lead, successfully ending a four and half minute drive by getting the ball to running back Tylor Beverett for a four-yard run and jumping ahead 17-10.

Those would be the last points that the Bison would take on that Saturday afternoon. It was completely a Fordham affair from then on.

To tie the game, the Rams had an explosive play with just under six minutes to go in the third quarter, as junior wide receiver Fotis Kokosoulis caught a 50-yard pass from DeMorat, tying the game at 17. 73 yards in two plays over just 58 seconds of gameplay is quite the statement.

The energy had clearly shifted in Fordham’s direction. Before the third quarter had finished, Rams freshman defensive back Mike Courtney caught a Bucknell pass and returned it for a 49-yard touchdown, an interception that gave Fordham the lead and solidified their momentum with not much time left in the game. 

Halfway through the fourth, sophomore wide receiver Dequece Carter capped off what was a successful day for him, catching DeMorat’s pass for 46 yards and giving Fordham a 31-17 lead.

That was the final score when the whistle blew a few minutes later.

The game was once again an outstanding performance on both sides of the ball for the Rams. Defensively, Fordham held Bucknell to just 199 offensive yards, with standouts like senior linebacker Glenn Cunningham recording eight total tackles, two of them for loss, one sack and two interceptions. Courntey finished his day with six tackles, three and a half of them for loss, on top of the pick six.

On the offensive side of the ball, Carter’s touchdown pass was just one of seven he caught on the day, while Kokosoulis had nine catches and accounted for 149 of the Rams offensive yards of the afternoon. DeMorat, meanwhile, had his typical outstanding day completing 32 of his 42 passes and accounting for 355 yards along with his three scoring passes.

Before the game, Fordham head coach Joe Conlin made note of how much he respected Bucknell for its defense which has nine seniors on its roster. 

“They play, they’re very well coached and they have a good scheme,” Conlin said. “Offensively, they have two of the best wide receivers in this league, and they do a good job of getting them the ball in a lot of different situations.”

The Bison defense was not able to stop a Fordham offense that was clearly dead set on achieving what they had to do. Offensively, Bucknell was completely shut down by a Rams defense that was just as determined.

With that, the incredibly short spring season has concluded for Fordham Football, putting them at 2-1 and just shy of getting to play another game. Not playing in the Patriot League title game may be a bit of a disappointment, but that certainly does not make this season a failure especially when that 2-1 record follows a 2019 season that saw the team 4-8 at year’s end. The 2020 season could easily have just gone by with nothing to make up for it.

For the Rams, this mini season is another step in the right direction for a program that continues to improve.