Football Strings Together Wins, Upsets for 3-0


Maria Fischer/The Observer



Maria Fischer/The Observer
Maria Fischer/The Observer

In the weeks since Fordham football’s Aug 28 opener against Rhode Island, the team has proven itself to be a force in the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS). Winning both home and away contests, prevailing in blowouts and close contests alike, the 2013 Fordham Rams have come full-circle from their 1-10 finish in 2011.

The team, led by Head Coach Joe Moorhead and quarterback Michael Nebrich, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’15, opened the season at home by trouncing the same-named Rhode Island Rams by a score of 51-26. Nebrich threw for a then-career high 267 passing yards, a record not long for the books, and was supported by running back Carlton Koonce’s, FCRH ’14, 99 rushing yards and wide receiver Brian Wetzel’s, FCRH ’15, seven receptions for 90 yards and two touchdowns. The effort was sealed by a strong defensive effort, highlighted by two Fordham interceptions of Rhode Island quarterback Bob Bentsen, including a 61-yard touchdown return from JQ Bowers, FCRH ’16.

In their next victory, the Rams scored a number of improbable firsts, beating Villanova at home. It was the first time Fordham had taken down a top-ten team at home, and the first victory for the Rams against Villanova in 13 contests stretching back to 1920. Breakout quarterback Nebrich led the offense with his legs instead this time; putting up 102 yards on 20 carries, as well as two rushing touchdowns. Perhaps most impressive about the landmark win, however, was the stifling Ram defense in the second half, in which Fordham allowed the Wildcats to score only three total points. Linebacker Victor DiFusco, FCRH ’15, tallied seven tackles and two forced fumbles in the dominant effort, earning him Patriot League Defensive Player of the Week.

Playing in their third game at the home of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Rams traveled to Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Temple Owls, a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) team, and so a team quite literally out of their league. The last time Fordham had beaten a team in what is now known as the FBS came back in 1954 against Rutgers. Their high-powered offense, now having scored an average of 35 points per game, put up over 500 yards of total offense and edged out the Owls by a score of 30-29. Nebrich, again a key contributor, piled up a new career-high of 320 passing yards to go with a pair of touchdowns, and was flanked by Koonce, whose 168 rushing yards were good enough to move him into seventh place on Fordham’s all-time rushing list.

The team, whose 3-0 start is impressive enough without considering its monumental context, has already collected six different weekly accolades, with three going to Nebrich. The defense has yet to allow 30 points against any opponent, an outrageous feat considering the caliber of opponents faced, and best of all, the Rams have done well enough to move into the FCS top 25 polls, taking over the 21st spot and hurdling the 22nd-ranked division-rival Lehigh Mountain Hawks. Fordham is one of only seven 3-0 teams in the top 25, and has a chance to continue what has been a statement season this upcoming Saturday against Columbia in the 12th Annual Liberty Cup.

Last season’s turnaround, pioneered by Coach Moorhead and an all-time rushing effort by Koonce, had the team at 6-5, their first winning record since 2007. This season, the team has already racked up half their 2012 win total and has vaulted into the FCS rankings. With Nebrich’s steady quarterback play, top-flight rushing from the senior Koonce and a defense that stands its ground in tough stretches, calling the 2013 season a promising one for the Rams might as well be the understatement of the still-young century.