Football Bounces Back With Win Over Bucknell


Ryan Greenhagen set two school records in Saturday’s win at Bucknell. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

Following a heartbreaking 53-52 overtime loss to the College of the Holy Cross on Oct. 29, Fordham Football was in need of a bounce back. While their hopes of a Patriot League title likely faded away after that narrow one-point defeat, Fordham still had lots to play for heading into a showdown with Bucknell University this past Saturday in Pennsylvania.

If the Rams win their remaining regular season games, they will likely be in line for an at-large Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) Playoff bid. That’s a big if, but the Rams took a step in the right direction on Saturday with a convincing 59-17 win over Bucknell.

Led by spectacular performances on both sides of the football, Fordham improved to 7-2 on the season and 3-1 in Patriot League. Offensively, senior quarterback Tim DeMorat made headlines once again, despite throwing two interceptions, as he tossed five touchdowns on 346 yards passing. Senior Fotis Kokosioulis had the biggest day out of Fordham’s talented receiving core, hauling in 12 catches for 132 yards and two touchdowns.

But Fordham’s defensive unit, which has struggled at times this season, was also up to the task on Saturday. As a whole, the defense held the Bison to just 17 points while forcing two interceptions, with both plays made by freshman Alex Kemper. It was also a historic day for graduate student linebacker Ryan Greenhagen, who set the all-time school record for career solo tackles with 235 and tackles-for-losses with 48. The New Jersey native chipped in 12 total tackles on the day to lead all Fordham defenders.

Fordham got off to a slow start offensively in Bethlehem, failing to score in the game’s opening quarter. DeMorat was picked off midway through the first by Bucknell safety Brent Jackson, highlighting the Rams’ inability to move the football early on Saturday. Fordham’s defense was strong though, surrendering just a field goal in the first quarter to send the Rams into the second down by just three.

And on their opening drive of the second quarter, the Fordham offense finally got things moving. A 14-play drive was capped off by a 24-yard field goal from junior Brandon Peskin to tie the game at three. From there, Fordham didn’t look back.

The Rams scored a resounding three touchdowns in a row in the second to enter halftime with a 24-3 lead on 24 unanswered points. All three touchdowns came from DeMorat to three different receivers: a 12-yard strike to sophomore Jaden Allen, a 37-yard dart to senior MJ Wright and an 8-yard score to Kokosioulis. 

Bucknell grabbed a touchdown back early in the third quarter off a Rushawn Baker 12-yard run to cut Fordham’s lead to 24-10. But the Rams had an effective answer on their next offensive possession. On a drive spearheaded by solid runs from sophomore Julius Loughridge and graduate student Trey Sneed, DeMorat delivered his fourth touchdown of the day with a 23-yard connection to junior Mekai Felton. 

Neither offense could get anything going until the fourth quarter, when Bucknell got within 14 again at 31-17, thanks to a one-yard touchdown pass to receiver Damian Harris. From that point on, Fordham stepped on the gas to score 28 unanswered points to secure the win.

First, DeMorat found Kokosioulis for his second touchdown of the day, this one for 31 yards. Kemper then made the play of the day for the Fordham defense. On a third down, Kemper picked off Bucknell quarterback Alex Brown and returned it 22 yards for the Fordham touchdown, putting the Rams on top 45-17. 

Fordham’s special teams unit, which was solid all day, made a huge play on the ensuing kickoff to get the ball right back to DeMorat and company. A short, high kickoff from senior Michael Bernard landed at the Bucknell 20-yard line, causing miscommunication for the Bison on who should field it. The ball wasn’t fielded in the air by the Bucknell and bounced off the turf, allowing senior B.J. Ferguson to recover the unconventional onside kick.

With their backups now in the blowout game, Fordham struck right away after the big special teams play. Junior backup quarterback Grant Wilson found freshman Jack Kaiser for a six-yard score. The Rams tacked on another score in the closing moments thanks to a touchdown from junior running back Taj Barnes, making the final score 59-17 Fordham.

While the Rams didn’t play great in the first and third quarters, a run of 24 straight points in the second quarter and 28 straight in the fourth quarter were enough to push Fordham over the line. 

After the game, Fordham head coach Joe Conlin spoke about the nature of his team’s victory. “I thought we were sloppy at times, didn’t execute on either side of the ball for a stretch there. But, we kinda came together at the end. Special teams were fantastic and we found a way to get the job done.”

With the win, Fordham remains on pace for an at-large FCS playoff bid. They will continue their quest for a postseason berth this Saturday at home against Lafayette College in the Rams’ penultimate regular season game. That will kickoff at 1 p.m. and can be watched live both on SNY and ESPN+, or listened to on WFUV 90.7.