Football Wins in Record-Setting Day at Cornell
Oct. 17, 2009
Ithaca, N.Y. - If Andy Bernard, the fictitious Cornell graduate on The Office, held the paper account for his alma mater's press box he would have made a killing on Saturday. Fordham and Cornell combined for over 1,000 yards of total offense in the game, with the Rams breaking or tying five school records, as the Fordham offense proved too much for the Big Red, defeating Cornell, 39-27, on Schoellkopf Field.
With the win, Fordham's third straight, the Rams even their record at 3-3 on the year while Cornell falls to 2-3.
"Both teams made plays at both ends but we just made a few more," said Fordham head coach Tom Masella. "John did a great job throwing the ball today and the receivers did a great job getting open."
Most teams use the running game to set up the passing game but that was not the case for Fordham today as the Big Red defense shut down the Rams' running attack. So senior quarterback John Skelton stepped up the passing game, completing 20 of 27 passes for 420 yards and five touchdowns. He broke the school record of 413 passing yards set by Joe Moorhead in 1995 and came up one shy of the school record for scoring passes of six, set by Kevin Eakin in 2003.
"Jason Caldwell did a great job today," said Skelton. "A lot of the plays were read plays for him and he was able to find the holes in the defense."
Senior receiver Jason Caldwell also etched his name in the Fordham record book, tying Javarus Dudley's single-game mark with four touchdown receptions. He finished with 245 receiving yards, just one shy of Dudley's school mark.
"I was fortunate today to be able to catch some short passes and turn them into big plays," said Caldwell. "Most of that had to do with the offensive line. They came into the game with some injuries and missing a couple of starters but they pulled together and did a great job."
Skelton also hooked up with Asa Lucas for a 98-yard scoring strike, the longest pass play in Fordham history.
What makes those passing number even more impressive is the fact that Cornell entered the game with the 14th-ranked passing defense in the NCAA FCS, allowing just 151.0 yards/game.
Not to be outdone, junior defensive back Isa Abdul El-Quddus intercepted three passes in the game, tying him with Tad Kornegay, who did it twice, for the school record.
Cornell got on the board first, taking over on its own 11 following a Fordham punt and drove down to the seven where the Big Red appeared to have scored but the touchdown was called back for holding. Fordham held Cornell on the 17 and Brad Greenway came on to kick a 35-yard field goal to put Cornell up 3-0 with 7:01 left in the quarter.
It didn't take long for Fordham to respond as on the forth play of the ensuing drive, John Skelton hooked up with Jason Caldwell on a pass over the middle which Caldwell turned into a 71-yard touchdown pass to put Fordham up 7-3 with 5:45 remaining in the first.
The Big Red threatened on their next possession driving to the Fordham one but on fourth down Nick Mlady was stopped on the goal line by Jordan Bledsoe and the Rams took over.
It appeared as if the Rams would have to punt the ball back to Cornell as the first two plays gained just one yard. But on third down, Skelton found Asa Lucas streaking down the left side, hitting him in stride at midfield, and Lucas took care of the rest for a 98-yard scoring play as the Rams took a 13-3 lead 12 seconds into the second quarter.
Abdul El-Quddus intercepted an Adam Currie pass on the first play of the ensuing Cornell drive, giving the Rams the ball at the Fordham 42. Skelton moved the Rams to the Cornell 14, completing four straight passes to his brother, Stephen Skelton, but a 35-yard field goal attempt from Kevin Heinowitz went wide right.
Cornell then took advantage of a Fordham turnover as Skelton was intercepted by Tom Randall deep in Cornell territory and Randall returned it to the Cornell 35. The drive appeared to have stalled on the Fordham 36 when Kelvin Colbert sacked Currie back to the 46 but the Rams were called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, giving Cornell a first down on the Fordham 31.
The drive again appeared to come up short for Cornell but on third down and 12 from the Fordham 33 Currie threw a ball into the end zone and Bryan Walters out jumped a Fordham defender for the score with 7:11 left in the half.
Later in the quarter, the Rams took over on their own 39 following a punt and on the third play from scrimmage Skelton connected with Caldwell on a 42-yard scoring strike to give Fordham a 19-10 lead with just over a minute remaining in the half.
After the Fordham defense held the Big Red on the Fordham 42, the Rams took over on their own 14 following a punt. It appeared that Fordham scored on the first play as Xavier Martin, who had only ten rushing yards in the first half, broke through the line and to the end zone but the play was called back for an illegal blocking penalty on the Cornell 40. But that only delayed the score by one play as Skelton threw a screen to Caldwell who took it 50 yards for the touchdown and a 26-10 Fordham lead.
The Big Red responded driving to the Fordham eight where Greenway converted his second field goal attempt of the game, a 26-yarder, to make it a 13-point game, 26-13, with 6:10 remaining in the third.
Zach Crosby returned the ensuing kickoff 40 yards to the Cornell 48 and six plays later, Skelton hooked up with Caldwell again, this time with a 22-yard scoring strike to give Fordham a 32-13 lead with 4:37 left in the quarter.
Later in the fourh, Abdul El-Quddus picked off his third pass of the game, returning it to the Cornell 27. Five plays later, Skelton hit David Moore for a 12-yard gain to put the ball on the one. Skelton took it from there, diving over the pile and into the end zone for the touchdown and a 39-13 Fordham lead.
Cornell would score two rushing touchdowns, the last with two seconds left, to make it a 39-27 final.
Defensively, Cliff Stuckey and Abdul El-Quddus each finished with six total tackles, five solo, while Isiejah Allen also had six stops, four solo.
The Rams will return to Patriot League action next Saturday, October 24th, as they travel to Easton, Pennsylvania, to face Lafayette College at 1:00 p.m.
Notes: The Rams snapped a four-game losing streak to the Big Red and picked up their first win over Cornell on the NCAA FCS level...Cornell now leads the all-time series, 4-3...The Rams close out their non-conference schedule with a 3-2 record and are now 8-2-1 when playing on October 17th...Skelton now has two career 400-yard passing games...Skelton's career numbers are now 651 completions for 8,160 yards and 58 touchdowns, all school records...His 1,940 passing yards through six games this year is already the ninth highest single season total in school history...Caldwell's previous career-highs were eight receptions (at Rhode Island) and 119 yards (at Colgate), both set this year...The previous long pass play was a 97-yard completion from Steve O'Hare to Chris Auferio against Georgetown in 1998...The Rams intercepted five passes on the day, three by Abdul El-Quddus and one each by James Crockett and Kelvin Colbert.