Football Comes Up Short in Season Finale to Colgate
Nov. 17, 2012
Bronx, N.Y. - In a game that featured more than 160 plays and more than 1,100 yards of total offense, it would be difficult to say that the game came down to one play. It would be even more difficult if that play didn't figure into the aforementioned statistics. But on Saturday, the Fordham-Colgate football game was decided by a two-point conversion as the Raiders stopped a Rams' attempt with 43 seconds left to defeat Fordham, 41-39, in the season finale on Jack Coffey Field.
With the win, Fordham closes out the year with a 6-5 record, Fordham's first winning season since 2007, while Colgate, the 2012 Patriot League champions, finishes the regular season with an 8-3 mark.
"This game was a microcosm of our season," said Fordham head coach Joe Moorhead. "Our guys come out for four quarters, taking one play at a time, playing as hard as they can and show that we can compete with any team in the country. I'm particularly happy for our seniors as they leave here with a winning record and with one of the biggest turnarounds in the NCAA FCS. They have laid a strong foundation for a very bright future for this football program."
Only one of the two schools on the field today has a "D" in its name but both have an "O", as in offense as the Rams and Raiders combined for 167 plays, gaining 1,155 yards. Fordham led the way, racking up a season-high 608 yards of total offense on 96 plays while Colgate registered 547 yards of offense on 71 plays. The 608 yards of offense for the Rams was the most since 2009 when Fordham closed out the year and the John Skelton era at Fordham with 686 yards of offense at Georgetown.
Leading the Fordham offensive explosion was running back Carlton Koonce, who gained 232 yards on 33 carries with three touchdowns. The 232 yards brings his season total to 1,596 yards, shattering Kirwin Watson's single season record of 1,477 set in 2003. Koonce also finished the year with 13 rushing touchdowns, the fourth best single season in school history.
Fordham senior quarterback Ryan Higgins went out with a bang, completing 33 of 55 passes for 386 yards and two touchdowns. Those numbers bring Higgins' season total to 255 completions on 387 attempts for 2,940 yards. His 255 completions is the second best single season total in Fordham history while the 2,940 passing yards is fourth best.
Higgins' favorite receiver today was Brian Wetzel, who hauled in 14 passes for 187 yards, both career-highs, with two touchdowns. He closes out his sophomore season with 72 catches for 1,042 yards and seven touchdowns, all team highs. He ranks fourth on the Fordham single season reception list and fifth on the receiving yards list and becomes just the third Ram to accumulate more than 1,000 receiving yards in a season (Javarus Dudley did it three times and Jason Caldwell once).
Also getting into the offensive action was senior kicker Patrick Murray, who booted two field goals and added three PATs to bring his season point total to 105, becoming the first Fordham kicker to score 100 points in a season and ranking third on the school's single season list. He also broke the Patriot League mark of 97 kick scoring points in a season set by Fordham's Matt Fordyce in 2002.
Murray's two field goals bring his season total to 25, adding to his Fordham and Patriot League single season records. The 25 field goals leads all of the NCAA Division I this fall and is just one shy of the NCAA FCS single season record of 26, set by Tony Zendejas from Nevada in 1982 and matched by Northern Iowa's Brian Mitchell in 1990.
The Rams trailed by two, 35-33, with just over two minutes remaining when Moorhead made a call that his defense vehemently disagreed with; let Colgate score a touchdown. The Raiders had the ball on the Fordham three and Moorhead realized that the only way the Rams would have a chance to win was to let Colgate score, block the extra point and then score a touchdown with a two-point conversion. So the defense let Jordan McCord go into the end zone untouched and, true to Moorhead's plan, blocked Andrew Burgess' extra point attempt as DeAndre Slate and Ian William burst up the middle and got a hand on the kick.
Following a 17-yard Wetzel kickoff return, the Rams took over on their own 33 with 1:55 on the clock and no time outs remaining. Higgins went to work, completing three of his first four passes for 44 yards, putting the ball on the Colgate 23. Two incomplete passes and a four-yard gain to Dan Light moved the ball to the Colgate 19 where the Rams faced fourth-and-six. After a Colgate time out, Higgins found Wetzel cutting across the middle and he outraced the defenders to the end zone to pull Fordham to within two, 41-39, with 43 seconds left.
Fordham lined up for the two-point conversion with Higgins taking the snap and rolling to the left, pitching the ball to Blake Wayne but Wayne couldn't get the ball to the end zone.
The Rams attempted an onside kick following the score but the Raiders recovered the ball to seal the win.
The Fordham touchdown capped a wild fourth quarter, a period in which each team scored 20 points.
After Murray missed on a 55-yard field goal on the first possession of the game, Colgate drove 61 yards on eight plays to take a 7-0 lead on a McCord one-yard scoring run with 8:22 left in the first.
The Rams came right back, with Koonce capping a six-play, 70-yard drive with a 26-yard scoring rush to even the game at seven less than two minutes later.
On the next play from scrimmage, Brendan Melanophy hit the Colgate receiver and the ball bounced to Jake Dixon who took the interception from the Colgate 27 to the Colgate nine. Three plays later, Higgins found a wide-open Wetzel in the end zone as Fordham took a 13-7 lead with 6:07 on the clock.
The game remained 13-7 until early in the second quarter when Murray booted a 38-yard field goal 2:03 into the quarter to put Fordham up 16-7.
The second quarter was ceded to the defenses, especially the Fordham defense as Williams intercepted Colgate quarterback Gavin McCarney in the end zone to thwart a scoring chance and, on the next Colgate offensive possession, the Rams held the Raiders on a fourth-and-three call from the Fordham 28.
The Raiders finally got on the board in the second when Jimmy DeCicco took it in from the five to cut the Fordham lead to two, 16-14, with one minute left in the half.
The Fordham offense wouldn't go into the break without attempting a scoring drive of its own, covering 37 yards on six plays to place the ball on the Colgate 32 but a Murray 49-yard field goal attempt went wide left.
The Raiders wasted little time in regaining the lead in the second half, taking the opening kickoff and covering 86 yards on just four plays, the big play a 62-yard scoring strike from McCarney to Ryne Morrison as Colgate took a 21-16 lead 1:45 into the third quarter.
Fordham came back with a 21-yard Murray field goal to cut the Colgate lead to 21-19 with 10:15 remaining in the quarter, a score that would hold up until the fourth.
Later in the third, the Rams appeared to have taken a lead but a 14-yard Koonce scoring run was called back on a holding penalty and three plays later, Higgins was intercepted in the end zone by Mike Armiento.
The Raiders took advantage of the turnover, moving to the Fordham eight where McCord scored to give Colgate a 28-19 lead with 8:44 remaining in the game.
The Rams answered with a six-yard scoring romp from Koonce with 6:05 left to cut the deficit back to two, 28-26, but the Raiders wasted little time in getting the points back, taking just three plays, the big one a 47-yard completion from McCarney to DeCicco that put the ball on the Fordham 14 and McCarney took it in on the next play for a 35-26 Colgate lead with 4:36 on the clock.
Once again, Fordham had a response for the Colgate score as Koonce capped a 72-yard drive with a 26-yard scoring run to make it a 35-33 game with 2:53 left.
An unsuccessful Fordham onside kick gave the Raiders the ball on the Fordham 44 and eight plays later, the Rams allowed McCord to score with two minutes remaining to set up the wild finish.
Defensively, Williams led Fordham with eleven solo tackles, to go with his interception and two pass breakups while Michael Martin finished with ten stops, five solo, and he forced two fumbles.