Fordham Football Victorious at Homecoming, Defeats Cornell 34-27

Running back Carlton Koonce, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’13, ran for 176 yards. (Courtesy of Fordham Sports)

Running back Carlton Koonce, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’13, ran for 176 yards. (Courtesy of Fordham Sports)


On Saturday Sept. 15, the Fordham football team treated their loyal fans to an exciting victory over Cornell University at Jack Coffey Field. As homecoming festivities took place on Edwards Parade, the Rams were able to improve their record to 2-1, showing glimpses of a potentially potent offense in the 34-27 win.

Running back Carlton Koonce, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’13, ran for 176 yards. (Courtesy of Fordham Sports)

The star of the day was Fordham running back Carlton Koonce, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’13, who rushed for a career high 176 yards and two touchdowns. Koonce was quiet in the first half—rushing for only 31 yards—but was able to find more running room later in the game, eluding visibly tired defenders and helping Fordham maintain possession.

Not to be outdone, quarterback Ryan Higgins, FCRH ’14, passed for 281 yards and two scores, orchestrating several important second half drives. After Cornell took a 14-6 lead early in the third quarter, Higgins connected with receiver Brian Wetzel, FCRH ’15, on a 63-yard pass and catch. Koonce was able to finish off the drive with a 15-yard run into the end zone. The three play 83-yard drive sparked an offensive unit that struggled to move the ball in the first half. On their next series, Higgins connected with Wetzel on a pivotal third down play. Several downs later, Higgins found Sam Ajala, FCRH ’15, who outran defenders on his way to another touchdown.

The third quarter marked the turning point of this game, as the offense gained momentum and the defense was able to secure several stops, helped by missed opportunities on the part of Cornell. They missed a 50-yard field goal that gave Fordham great field position, which resulted in a touchdown pass to Wetzel. Wetzel also had a career day, grabbing eight passes for 156 yards, both career highs for the sophomore.

Jeff Mathews, Cornell’s junior quarterback, threw the ball 56 times and tallied almost 500 yards through the air in addition to three touchdowns. However, the impressive statistics were not enough, as Cornell’s defense could not find an answer to Koonce and Higgins.

The environment at Jack Coffey field was lively and enthusiastic, with student sections breaking into chants of “F-U” and “Let’s go Rams!” throughout the game. Everyone was in good spirits after filling their stomachs with free cheeseburgers and hotdogs in the homecoming tent. For students of age, Fordham provided beer and wine, contributing to the excitement of the crowd.

Camille Cua, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’13, noted that the atmosphere felt like a natural college experience—that is, everyone gathering for the big game, socializing with others in the Fordham community.

“It’s weird, we don’t see that a lot at Lincoln Center,” she said. “Most people kind of just do their own thing and no one really cares about football.”

David Mendes, FCLC ’13, held a similar sentiment. “It’s just nice being outside, eating a burger and watching football. It feels right. I’m thinking about doing this more often. I just wish Fordham would always provide free food, but I guess I can’t be too picky.”

Fordham’s next game is Saturday against Columbia in the annual Liberty Cup game uptown. Kickoff is at 12:30 p.m. It should be interesting to see if Fordham can maintain this momentum and come away with another win.