Football Makes Strides Forward but Falls Short Against Monmouth


Carter (above) contributed to half of the Rams’ 23 points with two touchdowns and 97 receiving yards in the loss. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Though Fordham Football lost last week to the University of Nebraska by a sizable 45-point margin, the game in itself was a victory for the Fordham program.

Not only did head coach Joe Conlin have positive things to say about how the squad performed on the field, but Fordham’s presence in a nationally-televised game against a Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) school gave them incredible exposure.

But a week later, those positives could not translate into wins at the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level. The Rams fell on Saturday to Monmouth University 26-23 in their home opener at Jack Coffey Field. The loss put Fordham at 0-2 in the early season.

After a scoreless, and relatively quiet, first quarter, Monmouth got the scoring started in the second quarter with a 35-yard touchdown from quarterback Tony Muskett to wide receiver Gene Scott to put the Hawks ahead 7-0. The Rams responded with a near-four minute drive that resulted in a 27-yard field goal by senior kicker Nick Leinenweber to bring Fordham within four points.

Five minutes later, the Rams grabbed the lead on an eight-yard touchdown catch by junior wide receiver Dequece Carter from senior quarterback Tim DeMorat. However, that lead did not last long as Monmouth tacked on another score before the first half came to an end, this one coming from a three-yard touchdown run by Muskett. By the time the Rams and Hawks made their way to their respective Rose Hill locker rooms, Monmouth had themselves a 14-10 lead for the remaining 30 minutes of play.

The second half is where Fordham had seemed to falter the week before, completely falling out of step against Nebraska. Conlin expressed hope earlier in the week that the difference in halves was something behind them.

“They played their hearts out,” Conlin said in a Ram Roundup after the Nebraska game, “but it was kind of [a] first game [that had some] lack of execution and some key moments that cost us big.”

The second half against Monmouth was significantly better, but still not enough.

Over the course of the third quarter, the Hawks extended their lead from four points to seven. Muskett ran in another touchdown himself, going for five yards to bring his team to 21 points. Late in the quarter, Fordham finally scored again when senior wide receiver Fotis Kokosoulis caught a nine-yard pass from DeMorat. However, Fordham’s attempt at a two-point conversion to cut the lead to three turned south as Monmouth’s fifth-year defensive back Justin Terry picked off a pass and returned it a full 100 yards to secure the points for the Hawks. That swing of momentum made it a 23-16 game going into the fourth.

Both teams scored in the first 10 minutes of the final quarter, Monmouth on a 37-yard field goal by kicker Nick Null and then Fordham on a 39-yard touchdown pass to Carter. With five minutes left, Monmouth took control of the ball and held onto it until there were 26 seconds left. The Rams got the ball back 92 yards away from the end zone. After moving his team up to their 44 yard line, DeMorat fired a Hail Mary pass in the final seconds that made its way to the end zone but fell on the ground as the game ended.

Monmouth walked out of Jack Coffey Field with a victory, putting them at 1-1 in 2021. The Rams fell to 0-2.

The night certainly had its bright sides. The fact that this was Fordham’s 2021 home opener made it the first football game played at Jack Coffey Field with fans in more than 650 days. It was a sizable crowd, featuring a larger number of spectators, namely current students, than could be found pre-pandemic. 

The night also began with an honoring of first responders to the September 11, 2001 attacks, of which Saturday was the 20th anniversary. The night was dubbed Salute to Heroes Night, and NYPD Officer Tyler Abelson performed the national anthem in front of the department’s color guard.

Football wise, another huge upside was senior linebacker Ryan Greenhagen. He continued a run of dominance the FCS has not often seen. After setting the NCAA record last week for total tackles made in a game with 31, Greenhagen recorded 28 this week. He was named the GEICO Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week, while his teammate DeMorat won Offensive Player of the Week and freshman linebacker James Conway was named Rookie of the Week.

Despite losing this week, the Rams displayed a plethora of talent and ability against Monmouth, and they hope to bring all of that into another difficult matchup. This week, they will travel to Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton for their second matchup of the year against an FBS opponent.

It will be another challenging game, but if the Rams have proven anything, they have all the right tools to succeed and are only getting better.