Rams Halt Late Charge from Rhode Island to Win Home Opener

By Darryl Yu, Sports Editor

Excitement filled the air on Jack Coffey Field on Sept. 11, as the Fordham Rams came back from behind to notch their first victory of the season with a 27-25 win over Rhode Island University. Losing their seasonal opener against Bryant University on Sept. 4, the Rams were looking forward to getting back on track with a win at home.

At the beginning it was a gritty game, both defenses were very dominant and were able to force each other to punt. Rhode Island had a chance to go up early in the second quarter but their 47 yard field goal attempt went wide.

Under the play of new starting quarterback Blake Wayne, FCRH’13, and Rams captain Jason Caldwell, FCRH’11, the Rams were able to pick up their offense in the second quarter. With a mixture of plays that included an 8 yard rush by Wayne and an 18 yard Wayne to Caldwell completion, the Rams capped of an impressive 69 yard drive with a Wayne lob pass to Caldwell for an 18 yard touchdown. This gave the Rams a 7-0 advantage over the visitors.

However, the Rams lead was short lived. Rhode Island stepped up its own offensive game and as a result scored a touchdown a couple of minutes later. The Rams tried to answer back but Wayne’s pass was intercepted at the Fordham 36 yard line. This mistake by Wayne eventually led to a second Rhode Island touchdown   “He [Wayne] threw one bad ball, it was a pick and it cost us but he made plays in the second half,” said head coach Tom Masella. The Rams ended the first half down by a touchdown 14-7.

In the second half the Rams came out with confidence. Helped by Rams running back Xavier Martin’s, FCRH’11, 48 yard rush and Wayne’s 11 yard rush touchdown, the Rams were soon able to tie up the game at 14-14. Nevertheless, just like in the first half the Rams defense was unable to contain the Rhode Island offense, allowing them score another touchdown on the next drive 21-14.

Starting the fourth quarter down by a touchdown, things got worse for the Rams, as Patrick Murray’s, FCRH’13, punt was blocked allowing Rhode Island to score a safety 23-14. Down by nine with 12:57 remaining the Rams fortunes suddenly changed when senior linebacker Nick Magiera, FCRH’11, intercepted Steve Probst’s pass.

The interception eventually led to a 73 yard drive finished off by Martin’s one yard rush into the end zone 23-21. “Our seniors came up big today, Jason Caldwell came up big Nick Magiera came up big. We challenged our team this week and they showed up,” said Masella.

Shortly after scoring fortune smiled on the Rams again as Rhode Island’s Billy Morgan fumbled the ball on the kickoff after the touchdown. Recovered by Jamir Livingston, FCRH’11, the Rams were forced to take a field goal at the Rhode Island 24 yard line. With the opportunity to take the lead in the game, Murray attempt bounced off the right side of the upright.

Luckily for the Rams the field goal miss would not come back to the haunt them, as they were able to score another touchdown on Wayne’s eight yard rush.

Leading by 27-25 with 2:02 remaining Fordham used its defense to hold off Rhode Island and eventually, they sealed the win when senior Wilson Bryson, FCRH’11, deflected Probst’s pass. It’s tough one to lose but Bryson made a big play for us to win,” said Masella.

In the end Wayne threw for 222 yards completing 23 out 37 passes for one touchdown. He also rushed for two. “I feel like I need to perform well for the seniors because I know this is their last year playing. I want to make it the best season for them,” said Wayne.

Despite of the slow start, Coach Masella sees much potential in Wayne. “He [Wayne] is such a competitor, he is great to have on the team because he has this will,” said Masella.

Fordham captain Caldwell finished the game with 11 passes for 140 yards scoring one touchdown, nevertheless, Caldwell still feels he can do better “I had four drops that’s never good for a wide receiver, I had some good plays but for the most part I have to minimize the mistakes.

For Coach Masella this victory was the result of playing hard and never giving up. “This was a hard fought win against a good football team, we were down a couple of times but we just kept on battling,” said Masella.

With the win the Rams improved to 1-1 overall and Rhode Island falls to 0-2. Rams next home game will be on Sept. 25 against Assumption College.

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