McElderry Leaves Fordham Men’s Soccer for Rutgers

This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in December 2018.

Jim McElderry won 127 games and led Fordham Men’s Soccer to three NCAA Tournaments as the Rams’ head coach.

On Saturday, he left that legacy behind to start a new one at Rutgers.

The Fordham coach formally stepped down from his position to take the same one with the Scarlet Knights, Fordham Athletics revealed on Saturday. McElderry’s tenure is perhaps best-known for Fordham’s run to the Elite 8 in 2017, a run that saw the Rams take down powerhouse programs in Virginia and Duke before ultimately being eliminated by North Carolina. Now, he will be departing for a Big Ten school that won just four games last season and was eliminated from its conference tournament in the quarterfinals. The move is likely a step-up in prestige, even if not necessarily in performance.

“We want to thank Jim for 16 years of service to the Fordham Soccer program and to the countless student-athletes he has watched over,” Fordham Athletic Director Dave Roach said in a statement to Fordham Athletics. “We are grateful for everything he has done for Fordham Athletics and wish him and his family the best in his new endeavor.”

McElderry’s teams were consistently some of the best at Fordham University, and for that, he was a four-time recipient of Fordham’s Iron Major award, which is given annually to the best coach at the school. This past season, McElderry coached both the Atlantic 10 offensive and defensive players of the year, in senior Janos Loebe and junior Joergen Oland, respectively. In his 16-year tenure, 32 Rams were selected to all-conference teams and seven earned esteemed awards.

“I would like to thank Fr. McShane, Jeff Gray, Dave Roach, Charlie Elwood, Frank McLaughlin and the entire Fordham University athletic department,” McElderry told Fordham Athletics. “It has been an incredible 16 years here at Fordham, and I have been fortunate to experience life at Rose Hill with incredible people. I especially want to thank the alumni, all of my staff coaches, academic support, sports medicine, strength room, facilities, equipment and especially all of the players.”

McElderry’s move to Piscataway marks the second high-profile departure of a Fordham coach in the last six months. Bridget Orchard announced her resignation as Fordham Softball coach on June 1 after leading the Rams to their eighth NCAA Tournament appearance in nine years. Almost four weeks later, Fordham announced the hiring of Iona head coach and former Fordham assistant Melissa Inouye as Orchard’s replacement. It is unclear what the timeline will be for Roach to find a replacement for McElderry.

The now-former Fordham coach’s 127 wins rank second in Fordham history, behind only his predecessor, Frank Schnur. Interestingly enough, the next coach of Fordham Men’s Soccer will be just the fifth in the 66-year history of the program.

Despite his sudden exit, McElderry is still sentimental about his time in the Bronx.

“I will miss Fordham University and will cherish the memories I have from all of my teams. I will always be a Fordham University fan,” McElderry told Fordham Athletics.

He may be a fan, but he is no longer Fordham’s coach. Now, Dave Roach and company must scramble to find a replacement for one of the most successful coaches in the history of Fordham sports.

Squash Takes Four at Vassar to Kick Off Season

This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in November 2018.

The Fordham squash team came into this season looking to build off last year’s 20-4 campaign. So far, the team is off to a similar start.

Last year, the Rams kicked off their season with four wins in as many matches at the Vassar Round Robin, and, this year, they have done the same.

Fordham started the Round Robin on Saturday morning with a convincing 7-2 win over the host university; the Rams won each of the first seven individual matches against the Brewers in straight sets and conceded the final two. The team followed a similar pattern against Vassar, winning the first eight matches before conceding the ninth after the outcome of the match was decided. The Rams started the weekend with two wins in as many matches and looked to keep things going heading into Sunday.

They were able to do just that.

Sunday’s first match was the most competitive one in Fordham’s weekend, and that really is not saying much. The first individual contest between freshman and Philadelphia native Patrick Rodden and Hunter Chun went the distance, but Rodden prevailed with a 12-10 victory in the fifth and decisive set to dictate the tone of the match for Fordham. Despite a win in the next individual match by Boston’s Parker Tonissi over sophomore Griffin Fitzgerald, Fordham took the next five individual matches in straight sets and dominated over BU, 6-1. Fordham then prevailed in a shutout 7-0 victory over Bryant in which no Rams players gave up a single set.

Overall, it was a dominant weekend for the Rams. It was especially important because of what the team needed to replace after last season. Fordham and head coach Sahel Anwar were forced to replace fifth-year senior Joseph Hughes, as well as seniors John Lennon and Peter Yuen. Those three combined to win 103 career matches and replacing them would be, and still is, no easy task. The team has five freshmen this year, and four of them—Dylan Panichello, Henry Poehlein, Winthrop Reed and Patrick Rodden—played over the weekend. The end result among the newcomers: 13 individual matches played, zero defeats.

Fordham’s rival, NYU, defeated the Rams in the final of the Chaffee Cup at the College Squash Association Team Championship last season. The Rams are looking to do better than that this year, and this weekend’s victories got them off on the right foot.

While it is just one weekend, Fordham has started its season the way it wanted to. The Rams will be at the Navy Round Robin next weekend, and after winning three out of five matches in that tournament in 2017. They will be happy with a similar result this year but, for now, Fordham is excited to be in the win column to start the season.

Sophomore Leaps Ahead of the Curve

This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in November 2018.

Jackson Heil, FCRH ’21, came to the university to get involved with broadcasting and, more specifically, the school’s radio station, WFUV. He has accomplished that mission in 14 months.

“When I came to check out Fordham, I really enjoyed the campus and I loved the radio station, which was the biggest attraction for me, along with meeting the great Bob Ahrens,” he said.

Ahrens is the longtime former sports director and current executive producer of the station’s sports department.

The sophomore from Long Island is well ahead of things at WFUV. In just his second year, he is one of the station’s most active broadcasters. He has called softball, baseball and women’s and men’s soccer games for the station; he will also add football and women’s basketball to his portfolio in the next couple of weeks.

He is not just an on-air talent for WFUV, either; he has served as both an on-site and in-studio producer for multiple games and other broadcasts, including New York’s longest-running sports call-in show, “One on One,” on Saturday afternoons. But, in addition to all this, the man is still, somehow, doing much more.

Heil has always been a die-hard New York Rangers fan and his interest in the team led him to write for several websites in high school.
He eventually got in contact with the New York Rangers Public Relations department. After a tour of the team’s offices in the summer of 2017, he told the team’s staff that he would love to apply for an internship with the organization if one became available.

Right before the season started, Heil walked into way more than he expected.

“They said they didn’t have anything open at the time, but then a few months later, they reached out right before the season started and told me they had an opening on their game night staff,” he said. “I was stoked, and I’ve been there ever since.”

He said the biggest challenge in this job was to putting his life-long fandom aside as he believes the opportunity to learn what it means to be a professional was invaluable.

One of his favorite parts of the experience has been his interaction with some of the NHL’s best broadcasters.

“Being able to see the ins-and-outs of how professional broadcasts work and interacting with guys who I look up to, such as (Rangers broadcaster) Sam Rosen, Doc Emrick and (Vegas Golden Knights TV voice and Fordham graduate) Dan D’Uva, has been really enlightening.”

Heil is also extremely involved in the Fordham chapter of the Society of Baseball Research—SABR, for short — and it does exactly what it sounds like it does.

His interest in advanced baseball analytics started in his senior year of high school (according to him, out of “sheer boredom”), and once he found out Fordham had a SABR club he could not resist.

“I decided to just go explore Fangraphs to see what some of this stuff is all about,” he said. “I began reading up on the likes of wRC+, WAR, FIP, etc. and it was like a light bulb turned on in my head.”

After getting “hooked” on SABR and going to college, he’s participated in Diamond Dollars, a competition in which different schools try to solve a statistical, baseball-orientated case.

But for as much fun as he’s had with baseball statistics and the Rangers, he still came to Fordham for one reason and one reason only.

“I came to this school because of the history of WFUV and the incredible broadcasters the station has produced, such as Vin Scully, Mike Breen, Michael Kay and countless others,” he said. “I hope my time here can aid me in getting to that level some day.”

The sophomore with a dream has been operating well ahead of most of his peers and we will see where his time at WFUV takes him.

Year of Transition Ends on High Note for Fordham Football

This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in November 2018.

In 2018, it seemed like the Fordham football team got derailed by a different problem each week.

Freshman Tim DeMorat emerged as Fordham’s quarterback of the future this season. It was a bright spot on an otherwise difficult season. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

First, it was the offensive line. Then, injuries at the running back position. Occasionally, penalties doomed the Rams, too. Every now and then, a clock operator got in the way. But most of Fordham’s issues this season were self-inflicted, and Joe Conlin’s first season at the helm of the Rams did not quite go as planned.

Fordham lost its first five games of the season, then followed its first win by losing the four games after it. Needless to say, this was not the season Fordham wanted.

And yet, Fordham has hope.

The Rams ended their season with a 17-14 victory over Bucknell on Saturday afternoon to improve to 2-9 and avoid double-digits in the loss column, an outcome Fordham has avoided since Tom Masella’s fateful 1-10 campaign in 2011. After that season, Fordham hired Joe Moorhead as its next head coach. You know the rest.

Anyhow, Joe Conlin got his second win of the season and his coaching career, and while Saturday’s game was meaningless in the Patriot League standings, it sent the Rams into 2019 with a victory. Bucknell was also 1-9 heading into the game, and the win kept Fordham out of the Patriot League cellar for another year. Fordham has won just six games in the last two seasons, but unlike last year, the Rams knew heading into 2018 that this season would be an uphill battle.

There are few, if any, times in the school’s history when Fordham could say that it lost three professional players after a season. The Arizona Cardinals drafted running back Chase Edmonds in the fourth round of the draft. Edmonds, the Patriot League’s all-time leading rusher and fifth-leading rusher in the history of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, missed four games last season but still earned second-team honors in the Patriot League at the end of the season. Quarterback Kevin Anderson also missed time last season with injuries, but he was signed by the Orlando Apollos of the newly-formed Alliance of American Football, where he will play under the tutelage of head coach Steve Spurrier, who previously won a national title as the head coach at Florida. Offensive lineman Anthony Coyle went undrafted but signed as an undrafted free agent with the Green Bay Packers. Coyle was a first-team all-Patriot League player last season and a four-year starter for Fordham. The Rams felt the pain of all three of these losses at various points in the season.

The first order of business was hiring a head coach after last year’s head man, Andrew Breiner, left to become the wide receivers’ coach at Mississippi State under the aforementioned Moorhead. The Rams tabbed Yale offensive coordinator Joe Conlin but were unable to do so until most of that year’s recruiting had been completed. The Rams had already set up an ambitious out-of-conference slate, and last year’s losses were very present in those games.

Fordham started the year against Charlotte, an FBS opponent. The Rams were clearly outmatched, but nonetheless, they were able to jump out to a 7-6 lead with 11:58 to play in the first quarter. It was the last time Fordham led until Oct. 6.

As you could probably surmise, Fordham lost its first five games of the season by nearly 23 points per contest. Most concerning was the play of the offensive line, which allowed 21 sacks in the first four games of the season. Even worse for Fordham’s offense was that it finished the third game of the season against Stony Brook with -19 yards on the ground. No, that is not a misprint. Quarterback Luke Medlock also struggled behind the struggling line, and his inability to get outside the pocket ultimately spelled his doom as Fordham’s starting QB. The Rams made a change after game three and turned to freshman Tim DeMorat. Prior to his time at Fordham, DeMorat was best known as the nephew of comedian Daniel Tosh, the host of Comedy Central’s “Tosh.0.”

Fordham showed some signs of life in the fifth game of the year against Georgetown but ultimately dropped that one by a score of 23-11. Keep in mind that Fordham was picked to finish third in the Patriot League before the season, but injuries to running backs D’Angelo Palladino and Zach Davis as well as changes on the offensive line and immense struggles without Coyle left the running game in a state of dilapidated ruins.

And then, the Rams went to Pennsylvania and pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the Patriot League season.

Fordham destroyed a listless Lehigh squad 43-14 to get their first win of the season and the first victory of Conlin’s career. DeMorat threw for 299 yards and two scores, and the Rams ran for nearly 200 yards behind freshman Naim Mayfield and junior Florida transfer Tyriek Hopkins. If only for one afternoon, the Rams flipped the script, and, for the first time all season, took the game to the opponent instead of the other way around.

The next two weeks would feature close disappointments, with two combined losses to Bryant and Lafayette by a combined nine points. The next game was not nearly as close, as a 41-0 loss to eventual league champion Colgate marred the Rams’ senior day. Fordham could, and maybe should, have gotten a victory at Holy Cross, but the freshman DeMorat’s inexperience became costly in the final seconds. With the Rams down 17-13 with just over 30 seconds left, DeMorat took nearly 20 seconds off the clock before snapping the ball. He apparently did not realize the clock was running and was unable to get the ball snapped quickly. To the team’s credit, the Rams put that loss behind them quickly and were able to scratch out a hard-fought 17-14 victory over Bucknell on Saturday. Fordham goes into the offseason on a win, and certainly with hope towards a better showing next season.

However, the team will be losing quite a bit in the offseason. Conlin and company will have to replace the Rams’ top three receivers (Isaiah Searight, Austin Longi, Corey Caddle), all of whom are graduating. Also departing are defensive starters Antonio Jackson, Noah Fitzgerald, Larry Menyah, Dylan Mabin and Bryce Petty. Wide Receiver Jonathan Lumley and center Dominic Lombard will also graduate.

Fordham finished 2-9 this season, and the year can hardly be qualified as a success. This outcome is what we thought would happen heading into this season, but it was still a disappointing year for a team that had a chance to win several more games than it did.

That being said, Fordham’s season ended with a bang, even if it came against a team in a similar position as the Rams. But there’s no time to celebrate; only time to work on getting better for next year.

Squash Takes Four Out of Five in Return to the Bronx

This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in December 2018.

The Fordham squash team held its first home matches of the season this weekend, and the home cooking served the Rams well, as they took four out of five matches to move their season record to 11-4.

Believe it or not, the weekend started on a difficult note for the Rams, as they lost every individual match in a blowout loss to No. 12 Virginia University on Friday night. The Cavaliers were the second ranked opponent for the Rams this season, with the other being Navy. Friday night’s match—one in which no Fordham player took so much as a set—would be the Rams’ last defeat of the weekend.

Fordham started to get things rolling in the right direction with a 6-3 victory over Washington University (St. Louis). Fordham caught a break in the first individual match, as freshman Patrick Rodden received a victory when Washington’s Russell Scharf retired before a fifth and decisive set. The Rams ripped off five of the next six individual victories to clinch an overall victory in the match. The win was highlighted by sophomore Justin Deckoff and freshman Dylan Panichello, both of whom won their contests in straight sets.

The afternoon portion of the proceedings featured a matchup with Swarthmore College. The Rams were looking for a sweep on Saturday, and their performance did not disappoint.

Fordham took the match 7-1 over the Garnet, with Swarthmore’s only point coming towards the end of the match when Fordham did not put one of its players up against Eddie Wu. Fordham headed into Sunday’s matches with a 2-1 record and two more opportunities to get victories.

Sahel Anwar’s team took full advantage.

The Rams’ Sunday morning match against Lehigh was never competitive, and Fordham won seven out of eight individual matches. Six of these wins came in just three sets. The question for the Rams was whether or not they could maintain this performance in their afternoon matchup with Bryant, and the team answered this question in a resounding fashion with a shutout performance in which the team did not surrender a set.

The 4-1 weekend pushes the Rams’ record to 11-4 with just three matches left in the calendar year. There is plenty of credit to be assigned for Fordham’s success, but it boils down to consistency from several key players. Freshman Patrick Rodden has manned the leadoff spot for all but two individual matches, and he has gone 10-3 in that spot. Deckoff and senior Justin Esposito are both 11-4. Panchiello has won 10 of his 14 matches to start the year, and another freshman, St. Louis’ Winthrop Reed, is 10-5. Players both young and old have stepped up in the early going for Fordham.

Next up for the Rams is a three-game slate on Saturday against Duke University, Siena College and Colgate University. These three matches will be the last three of the year for Fordham, as after Saturday, the team does not play until Jan. 19.

Squash Drops Three Out of Five at Navy Round Robin

This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in November 2018.

The Fordham men’s squash team had an up-and-down weekend in Annapolis, going 2-3 against Navy, Boston University, Haverford College and Western Ontario University.

The weekend started inconspicuously on Friday night, as the Navy Midshipmen wiped the floor with the Rams in a 9-0 blowout. Fordham was unable to grab so much as a set from the host school and the team needed to regroup in advance of two matches on Saturday.

Things turned around early in the day on Saturday as Fordham took its first match of the weekend by a score of 8-1 over Boston University. The only loss of that match came at the expense of sophomore Griffin Fitzgerald, who lost a hard-luck five-setter to Boston’s Stefano Viacava. The Rams took every other individual contest in the minimum of three sets, and things were looking up for Fordham.

The day quickly turned sour, however, in the afternoon.

Fordham followed up its performance against BU with an 8-1 loss to nationally-ranked Haverford. The Squirrels took the first six singles matches of the contest and freshman Henry Poehlein got the only win for the Rams with a four-set triumph over Alex Liu. The rough afternoon continued for Fordham in the next match against Western Ontario, as the team was not able to take any individual matches. The Rams finished Saturday at just 1-3 in the Round Robin and needing a win on Sunday to salvage something positive from the tournament.

The Rams were able to get just that with a Sunday victory over the Navy “B” team on Sunday afternoon. As the Naval Academy customarily does in this tournament, the Midshipmen entered two teams; the “A” team handled its business and won all four weekend matches while the “B” team struggled. When all was said and done, the Rams went 2-3 in Annapolis and went to 6-3 on the season.

After this weekend’s up-and-down performance, Fordham has nearly three weeks off before matches against Virginia University, Swarthmore University, Lehigh University and Washington University (St. Louis) to head into December. The team is 7-3 through their first 10 games, and despite a split this weekend, the team should be happy with where it stands at the 10-game mark of the year.

After all, the Rams will not have too much to complain about. What issues they do have can be ironed out in the next couple of weeks.

Overtime: The Melo-ing of a Hall of Famer

This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in November 2018.

It is becoming increasingly clear that the game of basketball is passing Carmelo Anthony by.

At age 34, the former Denver Nugget and New York Knick signed a one-year deal with the Houston Rockets before this season. Houston wanted some more firepower after a playoff run that left them one win shy of knocking off the defending-champion Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference Finals in 2018. They were hoping Carmelo could give them the offensive spark they needed to send them over the edge in the Western Conference.

Narrator voice: he didn’t.

Anthony has been a total flop in 10 games with the Rockets, posting the lowest Player Efficiency Rating (PER, for short), minutes per game and points per game figures of his 16-year career. These career-lows surpass last season, where he set his previous career-low in all of those categories with the Oklahoma City Thunder. Last year was also a spectacular failure for Anthony and his team; the former had his worst career season, and the latter lost in the first round to the upstart Jazz. Anthony was terrible in the playoffs, scoring just 71 points in the six-game series and shooting 6-for-28 from behind the arc. This year, the Rockets are clearly better without him and would be well-served to cut him loose, which is what they are reportedly planning to do in the not-too-distant future. Anthony is coming into the last stage of his career, and it is fair to wonder whether or not he has anything left in the tank.

But I will not tolerate the slander of Anthony’s accomplishments and time in basketball. Here’s why.

The small forward who won a national title in his only season at Syracuse was pegged with wild expectations since the age of 17. In high school, Anthony’s Oak Hill team faced off against St. Vincent-St. Mary in February of 2002. You might have heard of the star of that St. Vincent-St. Mary team: LeBron James. Anthony’s squad won 72-66 in a game that was nationally-televised on ESPN. The next year, Carmelo attended Syracuse and carried the Orange to a national championship in his only collegiate season. The whole world knew of his talent, and as it turns out, he was just getting started.

He went into the draft that summer as one of the top players in arguably the most stacked draft class of all-time. Anthony was taken third that year by the Denver Nuggets, sandwiched between James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. Melo was asked to carry a straggling Nuggets franchise into the future, and he did just that; Denver made the playoffs each of the first five years of his career, but each season was marked by a first-round exit that didn’t take more than five games. The 2008-09 season, though, would be Denver’s breakthrough, as the team reached the conference finals before ultimately losing to Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol’s Lakers. Two years later, he was traded to the Knicks and, well, there have been many words written about that, but it’s still worth mentioning here.

His time in New York was much-maligned, and many criticized him for not being able to get the Knicks further in the playoffs in his seven years with the organization. The fact is, however, that the Knicks never surrounded their superstar player with enough talent for the team to be successful. The Knicks won 54 games in 2012-13 and finished with the second-best record in the Eastern Conference in one of the most bizarre one-off campaigns in recent memory. Anthony finished third in the MVP voting and led the team to the second round of the playoffs before being bounced by the Indiana Pacers. The rest is history: the Knicks hire Phil Jackson in 2014, he immediately gets in a power struggle with Anthony and others while trying to build the Knicks in an image that would never be successful all while publicly feuding with his star player. Anthony outlasted Jackson, as the latter resigned in 2017, and Anthony was traded to the Thunder last Sept., which is where we are now.

He was part of the best draft class in the history of the league and somehow still stood out. He sometimes gets lost in this era of NBA superstars like LeBron, Kevin Durant, Wade, Tim Duncan, Bryant and others, but his achievements should never be glossed over in the annals of NBA history.
I don’t say that lightly, either. Until last year, Carmelo averaged 20 points per game in each of his first 14 NBA seasons. The full list of players to do that over the course of an entire career? Michael Jordan, James and Durant. Durant was drafted in 2007 and Jordan played 15 seasons. You can pick on Anthony’s efficiency, which indeed is what has doomed him in the last act of his career. But he is one of the best pure scorers in the history of the league, and his impending downfall shouldn’t prevent us from recognizing that.

Carmelo Anthony is my generation’s Bernard King—always putting up great numbers and almost always doing so on subpar teams. I’m not accepting the unrelenting criticism of Carmelo, and you shouldn’t, either.

Football Loses 17-13 to Holy Cross to Fall to 1-9

This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in November 2018.

Time ran out on Fordham Football on Saturday, as the team dropped a 17-13 heartbreaker to Holy Cross for its ninth loss this season.

The Rams were trying to rebound after last week’s 41-0 drubbing at the hands of nationally-ranked Colgate. With two games left in one of the most disappointing seasons in program history, the Rams had little to lose with their Patriot League chances out the window after last week.

Saturday’s first two drives ended in punts, as winds of over 20 m.p.h and frigid temperatures affected both offenses. After losing the coin toss, Fordham head coach Joe Conlin, in an exceptionally savvy move, decided to play in the face of the wind to start the game so the team could have the wind at his back in the fourth quarter.

Fordham’s second drive went far better than its first, as freshman quarterback Tim DeMorat hit wide-open tight end Isaiah Searight up the seam for 58 yards and the first points of the game with 9:42 to go in the first quarter. The catch was the senior’s fourth touchdown catch of the season and DeMorat’s 11th toss for a score.

Both teams traded punts for the rest of the first quarter, and interestingly enough, Holy Cross was unable to pin Fordham inside its own 20-yard-line despite having the advantage of the wind.

Fordham’s next drive got down to the Holy Cross 38, and the Rams were faced with a fourth-and-one at that spot. The handout went to senior running back Colton Smith, and he was stonewalled inches short of a first down. Smith was pressed into duty after freshman running back Naim Mayfield was unable to travel with the team because of illness. Holy Cross got something going on the next drive, and the Crusaders got inside Fordham territory for the first time of the afternoon. The drive came to a screeching halt, though, when senior quarterback Geoff Wade ran to the left and tried to throw over the middle and was intercepted by Fordham senior Dylan Mabin. However, Fordham was unable to take advantage, and the ceremonious trading of punts continued until inside of five minutes to play in the first half.

With about four-and-a-half minutes to play in the half, Holy Cross punter Cody Wilkinson came on for yet another punt. It was blocked by junior Jesse Bramble, and Fordham received possession at the Holy Cross 43. But again, the Rams’ offense sputtered, and sophomore Andrew Mevis came on to punt after three straight DeMorat incompletions.

Holy Cross’ next possession went 13 yards in eight plays and took over three minutes off the clock, leaving the Rams with just 47 seconds to work with from their own 42. Fordham took seven plays to go 21 yards and called upon Mevis to try to hit a career-long attempt from 54 yards away with the wind whipping behind him.

And hit it he did. Mevis’ kick, which might have had enough distance from 65 or even 70 yards out, gave Fordham a 10-0 lead going into the halftime break. Conlin’s decision to play the elements paid off in spades. Fordham’s defense held Holy Cross to just 79 first-half yards.

The second thirty minutes, however, would be the Rams’ undoing.

After a Holy Cross punt to open the second half, Fordham was stopped at its own 42. Mevis came on to punt into the Worcester wind and attempted a low, end-over-end boot to knife through the gusts. Instead, the Crusaders blocked his kick and took over possession 21 yards away from Fordham’s end zone. Two plays later, Wade hit an unguarded Derek Mountain on an exquisite throw-back play to the left after a rollout to the right to bring Bob Chesney’s team within three points.

On Fordham’s next drive, junior running back Tyriek Hopkins was dispossessed by Holy Cross defensive lineman Jake McArdell in his own territory, and the Crusaders took possession at the Fordham 41 after standout linebacker Ryan Brady recovered the loose change. Senior receiver Jonathan Lumley had a chance to recover the fumble but continued to block downfield anticipating that Hopkins would still be running. To the Fordham defense’s credit, it held the Crusaders to a three-and-out and a punt, but the offense continued to struggle.

With about three minutes left in the third quarter, wide receiver and former quarterback Blaise Bell passed the ball on a trick play to fellow wideout Martin Dorsey. The trickery worked, and Dorsey hauled in the pass at Fordham’s eight-yard-line. Three plays later, Wade went back to Dorsey to give the Crusaders a 14-10 lead with 2:15 left in the third quarter.

The teams continued to trade stops into the fourth quarter, and things would remain this way until the final 10 minutes of the game. On a third-down play from Holy Cross’ 43, senior receiver Austin Longi dropped a lateral from DeMorat. Brady got his second fumble recovery of the day at the 47-yard line. On the next drive, Wade was stripped on the run by sophomore linebacker Jeremy Imperati. Freshman Ryan Greenhagen tried to pick up the ball and run with it instead of falling on it. The ball eventually rolled out of bounds, and the Rams missed their opportunity at a stop. Running back Miles Alexander went for a four-yard run on the next play, and kicker Derek Ng drilled a 37-yarder into the teeth of the wind.With 7:37 to play, Holy Cross led 17-10.

Fordham held possession for the next 5:15 and got all the way down to the Holy Cross nine-yard line. However, DeMorat was sacked and threw incompletions on the next two plays. Mevis cashed in from 35 with 2:15 to bring the Rams within four. And that is where things started to get really weird.

Holy Cross was faced with a third down and three yards to get from their own 30 after a Fordham pseudo-onside kick attempt failed. Wade found Mountain for two yards, but Mountain was inches short of the first down, and Fordham senior Larry Menyah forced him out with 1:53 to go. Holy Cross eventually punted, and the Rams got it on their own 41 with 107 seconds to play.

Fordham had a fourth-and-five with about a minute left. DeMorat looked for Searight, and the senior made an insane catch over the back of the defender to move the chains. Fordham continued to push towards the red zone and got there when DeMorat hit senior wideout Corey Candle near the sidelines with 35 seconds left. Candle was stopped with forward progress in bounds but the clock stopped for the chains to move. A clock issue pushed the time down to 23 seconds left. The referees announced that the clock would start on their signal, meaning that Fordham would have to get up to the line and quickly run a play.

Then, DeMorat inexplicably used 15 of the 23 seconds remaining to figure out what to do. Fordham’s offense did nothing for this time until snapping it with eight or nine seconds to play. A holding call pushed the Rams back to the 29, and a Hail Mary attempt fell to the ground to give Holy Cross it’s fourth win of the year and send Fordham to 1-9.

While the referees probably erred in their handling of the situation, there is no excuse for what Fordham’s offense did (or didn’t do) at the very end of the game.

Fordham outplayed Holy Cross on Saturday. The Rams outgunned them 295-221 and looked like the better team for large chunks of the game.

Fordham has one more game left in this God-forsaken season; it will be against Bucknell on Saturday. The lights are about to go out on this season, and it can’t be saved.

Football Drops to 1-8 After Another Blowout Loss

This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in November 2018.

Fordham’s football team did not send its seniors off right on Saturday.

The Rams lost 41-0 to Colgate University; the result earned Colgate, the 11th-ranked team in the country, at least a share of the Patriot League title while the Rams fell to 1-8 in what Fordham coach Joe Conlin called an “unforgivable” effort on senior day.

“We didn’t execute today,” Conlin said. “We didn’t play the type of football that I want us to play. It’s not what Fordham Football is going to be, so to send these seniors off on a performance like that, to me, is unforgivable.”

A Colgate team that had given up six total points in its last six games heading into the day imposed itself on Fordham’s offense. Freshman quarterback Tim DeMorat was sacked eight times and the Rams were outgained 562-28 in total offense on the afternoon.

Colgate picked up a first down on the first play of the afternoon with a 10-yard scamper from quarterback Grant Brenaman, but Fordham’s defense held strong and forced a punt. Fordham was heading towards a similar fate on their first drive, but a shotgun snap from senior center Dominic Lombard went astray, and Colgate recovered the loose ball at Fordham’ eight-yard-line. Two plays later, the Raiders took advantage with a four-yard touchdown run from James Holland, Jr. to put Colgate in front 7-0 just 3:43 into the game.

Fordham continued to struggle on the next possession, with two DeMorat incompletions and a three-yard run from junior running back Tyriek Hopkins. In two drives and six plays, Fordham had just a punt and a lost fumble to its offensive ledger. Colgate also went three-and-out on the next possession, in part due to a false start penalty on third down and short yardage. Fordham had more issues on the ensuing possession and nearly lost another fumble on another poor snap from Lombard. TySean Sizer’s punt return put the Raiders near midfield.

On the first play of the next drive, Holland, Jr. busted loose once more. He took off on a run up the middle, broke through the hole and beat the Fordham defense for 52 yards and a score. The score gave Colgate a 14-0 lead with 5:56 left in the first quarter.

Fordham moved the chains on the next drive for the first time in the afternoon, but was unable to do anything else and punted from its own 37-yard-line.

Colgate then marched downfield to Fordham’s 26, but Holland, Jr. fumbled and senior Antonio Jackson, in his last home game in a Rams uniform, recovered and brought it back to the Colgate side of the field. Fordham, however, went in the wrong direction with a two-yard loss from running back Naim Mayfield and a ten-yard loss on a sack by Colgate’s Coco Coleman.

Colgate did not fail to take advantage of Fordham’s offensive ineptitude.

The next drive started with three runs from Holland, Jr. and an acrobatic 24-yard catch from tight end Nick Diaco. Running back Alex Matthews took it down to the one-yard-line on the next play, and took it to the house one play later. With 11:37 left in the first half, Colgate led 21-0 and showed why it was the 11th-ranked team in FCS heading into the afternoon.

The next drive followed the same pattern for Fordham: short run, incompletion, sack, punt, and Colgate got it back on their own 39.

Conlin said protecting the quarterback will be a top priority for the team as the year winds down.
“Every week, we cannot sustain drives,” he said. “We gotta do a better job of protecting the quarterback and being a little more consistent on the ground.”

Even if you take DeMorat’s eight sacks out of the equation, Fordham only rushed for 33 yards on the afternoon. Hopkins and freshman Naim Mayfield combined for just 16 yards on the day.

Both teams traded punts on each of their next drives. Colgate continued to do whatever it wanted on the next drive, as a 23-yard strike to Owen Rockett got Colgate to the Fordham 10. The Raiders punched it in the end zone on the next play on a short pass to running back Malik Twyman, but a chop block by Rockett knocked Colgate back 15 yards. Eventually, the Patriot League leaders settled from a 28-yard field goal from Chris Puzzi to make it 24-0 with 4:38 to play in the first half.

The Rams were able to get a first down on the next drive on a 10-yard connection from DeMorat to senior receiver Corey Caddle. Disaster struck on the next play, though, as DeMorat was intercepted by Ben Hunt on a throw over the middle.

“Timmy probably had his worst day,” Conlin said. “He’s not using his legs like he used to, and there are times when he just doesn’t have a chance. Other times, he’s not using his legs like he did so well against Central Connecticut and Bryant. You’ve got a 17, 18-year-old kid going up against one of the best defenses in the country, and a really well-coached defense, so he’s gonna have struggles.”

After the pick, Colgate was faced with a fourth-and-four at the Fordham 25 and quarterback Grant Breneman converted with a 23-yard toss to Rockett. Breneman kept it on a read option for a touchdown on the next play to make it 31-0 Raiders, and that would be the score heading into the locker room.

The second half started with more of the same, and despite a pretty 15-yard throw from DeMorat to senior Isaiah Searight, Fordham punted for the seventh time in the game. The Rams got a stop on the next possession, but their offense still could not get anything going. After a completion to Austin Longi on second down, DeMorat endured his fifth sack of the day at the hands of Colgate’s Dillon DeIuliis.

The Raiders completed a third-down pass for 29 yards to Rockett on the next possession. Sacks by freshman Ryan Greenhagen and sophomore Glenn Cunningham with Colgate inside the 10 forced the Raiders to kick another field goal from 43 yards, and Puzzi had his field goal blocked and returned to the Fordham 45 by Anthony Diodato.

Fordham crossed midfield for the first time in the half with an 18-yard throw from DeMorat to Searight. Fordham stalled at that point, and the Rams were stopped on fourth-and-10 from the Colgate 37.

Fordham almost got it back on the next play, however, as Glenn Cunningham forced a fumble from Holland, Jr. and Ryan Greenhagen made the recovery. However, the initial ruling that Holland was down stood, and the Raiders kept the ball. Malik Twyman ended the drive with a seven-yard run to make it 38-0 Colgate early in the fourth. Fordham punted on the next drive.

Twyman added insult to injury on the next possession with a 55-yard sprint on a beleaguered Fordham defense. Colgate’s drive stalled, and kicker Chris Puzzi barely made a 35-yard field goal into the teeth of the wind to make it 41-0 Raiders with 8:54 to play, and that would be the final score.

When everything was said and done from Jack Coffey Field, Fordham had punted it 11 times, lost 50 yards in the running game and earned just over half a yard per play. Conlin was particularly frustrated with his team’s performance in both the run and pass games.

“If you’re inconsistent in two phases, the call sheet starts to look like a foreign language,” Conlin said. “We gotta do a better job of executing, we can’t have these unforced errors and bad snaps and stuff like that. That stuff’s unacceptable, and that’s the mark of a bad team and obviously, we can’t have that stuff if we want to be a good team.”

The Fordham Rams are not a good team. They have been officially eliminated from any chance at contending for a Patriot League title this season, and this outcome was several weeks in the making. The Rams faced one of the best teams in the country on Saturday, and were thoroughly out-classed in every phase of the game.

Fordham has two more games this season against Holy Cross and Bucknell; both will be on the road. The Rams have an opportunity to salvage a lost season with better performances at those venues the next two weeks.

After Saturday’s blowout, it would be nearly impossible for the Rams to sink lower.

Fordham Drops to 1-7 After Loss to Lafayette

This article originally appeared in The Fordham Ram in October 2018.

The rain and wind cranked all afternoon at Jack Coffey Field on Saturday as the Fordham Rams lost 21-13 to Lafayette and fell to 1-7 on the season.

The weather was a big part of the story in this one, as cold temperatures, a driving rain and a howling wind made playing conditions difficult. The wind consistently blew towards Keating Hall, and the rain caused various puddles to form on the artificial surface.

The weather had an effect on both offenses; Lafayette kept it on the ground for 58 of its 67 offensive plays, and both teams combined for just 164 yards through the air.

“It was really very frustrating,” Fordham head coach Joe Conlin said of his offense’s second-half performance. “We had a couple opportunities to make plays, and we didn’t. We had dropped balls, we cut guys loose in protection and things like that.”

Fordham didn’t gain much traction with its first drive of the afternoon, and the Rams went four yards in the wrong direction in three plays. Lafayette got a penalty-induced first down on the next possession, but the Rams stopped the Leopards on fourth-and-two from Fordham’s 38-yard-line. The next two possessions ended in punts, and Fordham eventually got possession with under five minutes left in the first quarter and still no points on the scoreboard.

Fordham finally got something going on its next possession. The Rams converted on a fourth down play with Naim Mayfield running it up the middle, and on the next play, which was also the first of the second quarter, freshman quarterback Tim DeMorat hit sophomore wideout Hunter Harris over the middle for 20 yards. Two plays later, DeMorat connected with senior tight end Isaiah Searight for an eight-yard score to give Fordham a 7-0 lead with 13:51 left in the second quarter.

Lafayette had an answer on its next drive, however.

The Leopards kept it exclusively on the ground for eight plays and 75 yards on a drive that eventually ended in a Selwyn Simpson 38-yard touchdown scamper. Prior to that drive, quarterback Sean O’Malley was one-for-four with just five passing yards. Simpson’s second touchdown in as many weeks tied the game at seven with 9:48 to go in the half.

Fordham’s next drive lasted just three plays and started inauspiciously with a Dylan Mabin fumble on the kickoff. However, sophomore punter Andrew Mevis flipped the field with a 66-yard punt that stopped dead outside Lafayette’s goal line. Two plays later, Noah Fitzgerald recovered a Lafayette fumble four yards outside the end zone, and Fordham’s offense converted with a four-yard touchdown pass from DeMorat to senior Austin Longi. After a botched extra point, the Rams led 13-7 with 7:51 left in the first half.

The next three drives finished in three-and-outs as the rain and wind continued to wreak havoc on the playing conditions. On a Fordham drive that started with 2:52 left in the half, Tim DeMorat struggled to handle a snap from the shotgun. Even though the officials ruled that DeMorat recovered the fumble, the call was changed on review, and Lafayette got possession at Fordham’s 39 with 99 seconds left in the first half. After three straight runs, the Leopards kept it on the ground for fourth-and-short, and the Leopards turned fourth down into a home run as C.J. Amill broke free for a 31-yard touchdown scamper. Lafayette took a 14-13 lead late in the half, and that would be the score heading into the locker room. But despite being outgained 150-88 and 145-(-15) on the ground, the Rams were only down by one.

After halftime, Lafayette converted on a fourth-and-one around midfield but could not do any more. Jacob Bissell’s fourth punt of the day rolled to the three-yard line before the Leopards special teams unit downed it. Fordham didn’t get anything going and punted after three plays.

Selwyn Simpson started the next drive from the Lafayette 45 with a 51-yard run down the right sideline all the way down to the Fordham four-yard-line. Simpson got two more runs on the drive, and he punched the last one into the end zone for his second touchdown of the afternoon with 8:26 to play in the third quarter; that score made it 21-13 Lafayette.

The next four drives after Simpson’s touchdown all culminated in punts. Lafayette kept the ball almost exclusively on the ground, and while the offense had its ups and downs, the strategy seemed to work.

Fordham’s first possession of the fourth quarter did not go smoothly. Naim Mayfield went down trying to make a block in pass protection, and DeMorat nearly hit Hunter Harris with a deep ball over the middle before a Lafayette defender broke it up. Lafayette’s next drive featured more of the same; penalties, rushing plays and a drive-ending punt.

“I thought we did a better job of getting off of blocks,” Conlin said of his defense’s second-half performance against the Leopards’ rushing attack. “I thought our secondary did a better job of coming up and filling in than they did in the first half.”

DeMorat’s first throw of the next possession was intercepted by Lafayette corner Eric Mitchell. Lafayette actually threw it twice on the next possession, but once again punted on Fordham’s end of the field. The Rams got it back with 6:34 to go; the team needed 90 yards and a two-point conversion to tie the game.

But, following a common theme for the Fordham offense, the Rams could not get anything going. After a completion to Searight on first down, which was the freshman’s second completion of the second half, DeMorat was sacked on second and threw an incompletion on third, leading to a punt inside Fordham’s end zone.

Lafayette could have ended the game with points on the next drive, which looked promising after C.J. Amill picked up a first down to the Fordham 25. However, the drive stalled, and kicker Jeffrey Kordenbrock missed on an ugly field goal attempt from 46 yards to keep the Rams alive.

DeMorat started the next drive with completions to seniors Jonathan Lumley and Austin Longi, but the team was pushed back by a false start by freshman Phil Saleh. Running back Tyriek Hopkins then made the most of a swing pass and got the Rams down to the Leopards’ 42. On second down, DeMorat tried to force a pass to Jonathan Lumley over the middle into double coverage.

It did not work.

The freshman was intercepted by junior defensive end Keith Earle with under two minutes left to seal the deal for the Leopards, who took three kneel-downs to ice the game after the pick. The loss sent Fordham to 1-7 overall and 1-2 in the Patriot League, which means that the Rams will be fighting for their conference lives next week when they take on league-leading Colgate. A loss eliminates them from conference title contention.

“We need to take what is given to us,” Conlin says. “We got the easy throws we gotta make, and we gotta do a better job of maintaining our blocks, and we obviously have to protect the quarterback better.”

DeMorat was sacked four times on the afternoon, and the offensive line struggled like it has all season long. The freshman was pressured for most of the afternoon and was not afforded the adequate time to throw.

“If you give up a sack late, it’s not a big deal, but if guys get through right now and immediately get in the quarterback’s vision, it kind of just screws everything up,” Conlin said.

Fordham’s rushing offense, which has shown signs of improvement the past few weeks, took a major step back on Saturday as it went for -20 net yards if you include DeMorat’s sacks. Mayfield and Hopkins combined for just 25 rushing yards on 13 attempts, and the Lafayette defense did not give the tandem any room to run.

With Saturday’s loss, Fordham will need a miracle just to have a chance at winning the Patriot League. The team that was projected to finish second in the conference before the season now has its backs firmly against the wall, and the Rams face a must-win game against Colgate next Saturday.

Fordham is trying to salvage something from what may be about to become a lost season. To do that, they’ll first have to beat the best team in the Patriot League. The wind will not be at their backs.