Football’s Loss to Holy Cross Ends Conference Hopes

Fordham Football fell to the Holy Cross Crusaders once again, this time with the Patriot League title on the line, but cannot let the loss overshadow an otherwise bright future for the program that is only bound to continue.


Fordham battled and, for some time, led but ultimately fell at the end in their most important game of the season. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

It had to end sometime.

Fordham Football has had, by all means, a very successful season. After a 4–8 2019 season and a truncated 2020 played in the spring, the Rams had a quick break before the fall 2021 start and set the program’s turnaround into high gear.

After some tough opponents to begin the year, a long winning streak ensued that seemed like it would get them this year’s Patriot League title. Unfortunately, the Rams’ 52–24 loss to the College of the Holy Cross Crusaders on Saturday at Jack Coffey Field derailed any hope of that trophy this season. 

The loss squanders Fordham’s six-game winning streak and is their one and only loss in Patriot League play. The Rams’ six-game winning stretch was their longest since 2015. The 6–4 overall record and 4–1 mark in the conference with one game still left to play is certainly an improvement from previous years, but nevertheless, a disappointment after the direction it felt like this year of winning might have possibly gone.

Instead, that Patriot League title will go to Holy Cross or at least the title will be shared. However, the Crusaders’ win on Saturday gives them the head-to-head tiebreaker that would give them the title over Fordham should the two teams be finished tied atop the standings after the final games are played next week. It is Holy Cross’ third consecutive season taking the title. They also improved to a 5–0 record in the conference and an 8–2 mark overall. 

Many football games are a tale of two halves, of course. Saturday’s matchup was certainly one that could be defined by two halves, but those two were not necessarily defined by the game clock.

With three minutes and 21 seconds remaining in the first half, the Fordham offense had just picked up the pace, taking a 24–17 lead over the Crusaders and looking for more. And then the rain, already coming down, was met with warnings of thunder and lightning, causing gameplay to come to a screeching halt.

An hour and twelve minute weather delay came next, not something most teams have to worry about in the middle of a game as big as the Crusader Cup.

During the postgame press conference, Fordham head coach Joe Conlin was asked how he goes about trying to keep his team focused during the delay.

“I don’t know,” Conlin said, defeatedly. “That may be a better question for Bob [Chesney],” the Holy Cross head coach. To Conlin’s point, Chesney’s Crusaders stayed in the zone and took control in the second “half.”

After the 72 minutes of waiting, both squads made their way back out to the gridiron to continue the game: the final three minutes and change of the first half, a shortened ten minute halftime and then the final thirty minutes of gameplay. When things continued, Fordham had lost all of its previous momentum and potential they had as the lightning started coming toward Jack Coffey Field.

Holy Cross got on the board again with 15 seconds left to play before halftime to tie the game up at 24. Then the buzzer sounded and the first half came to a close.

Both teams went to the locker room for halftime, getting a well-deserved break from all of the action. 

When they came out for the second half, Holy Cross scored 28 points over the course of the remaining thirty minutes. Fordham had nothing to say in response.

In a game that had immense significance for both sides in potentially taking the Patriot League title to secure a spot in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision Tournament, an even opening 27 minutes was succeeded by 33 minutes of gameplay where Fordham faltered and could not rise to the occasion of turning their upturn season into a conference crown.

Instead, Holy Cross grabbed a giant road victory in the Bronx, reminiscent of their big win against Fordham back in 2019.

Fordham’s senior quarterback Tim DeMorat, in the midst of a historic season for the program, was limited to just 223 yards in the air, with two touchdowns on 12 completions. DeMorat also threw an interception in the game, his first since Sept. 18 against Florida Atlantic University. That made for 233 consecutive passes that DeMorat had completed without being picked off.

The Rams have one game remaining, a road game this coming Saturday against Colgate University at Andy Kerr Stadium at 12 p.m. No matter the outcome of the game, it will be the finale to a season that was certainly full of upsides but will end in disappointment.

The upside of the situation is that this season’s positives are enough to garner immense hope in where the football program in the Bronx is headed in the near future, so much hope that this past week saw the announcement that Conlin signed a multi-year contract extension to stay at the helm of the team through the 2024 season. Conlin, despite his squad’s struggles this past weekend, has expressed optimism for the next few years and graciousness for the chance to be leading it.

“I’m very excited to stay on board here at Fordham,” he said, getting to look at this season on a lighter note as it nears its end. “I’m grateful for [Athletic Director] Ed [Kull]’s and Athletics believing in me, and I’m looking forward to continuing working together.”

Despite losing both games and the Patriot League this week, Fordham Football’s outlook remains high.