Fordham Drops Shootout to Holy Cross 41-27


Published: November 5, 2009

On an afternoon filled with dizzying offensive numbers, maybe the most telling statistic was zero, as in the number of punts Holy Cross and Fordham combined for in their Oct. 31 game, which the Crusaders claimed 41-27.

The offenses, both of which are ranked in the top 10 of the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision, crisscrossed the field for a combined 1143 yards. The game came down to efficiency and execution: Fordham ran 112 plays but stalled five times inside the Holy Cross 40-yard line without scoring. The Crusaders managed points on seven of their 11 drives.

That has been the story of the year for Fordham so far: a team that can hang tough, but can’t seem to make the plays needed to win. The loss drops Fordham to 3-5 overall, 0-3 in the Patriot League.

“This team has given us everything we want,” said Tom Masella, Fordham head coach. “But for the first time this week we lost to a team that I thought was better than us, and there’s no shame in that.”

The Crusaders’ win was their first at Jack Coffey Field since 1999, and the game was the final matchup between Holy Cross’s Dominic Randolph and Fordham’s John Skelton, FCRH ’10, considered two of the Patriot League’s top quarterbacks.

Skelton’s 43 completions on 67 attempts for 427 yards was a record-shattering trifecta, albeit a stat line with one glaring hole: no touchdown passes. He ran one in from three yards out with 4:11 left in the fourth quarter to bring the Rams within 14 points, but that was the final Fordham score of the afternoon. Skelton nearly forced a touchdown pass to Asa Lucas, FCRH ’10, with  29 seconds left on a fourth-and-seventeen at the Holy Cross 19-yard line, but his receiver added one more dropped pass to the Fordham total. Holy Cross took over and took a knee to seal the win.

“John has a major league arm, and sometimes it handcuffs our guys; what are you going to do?” Masella said of the dropped passes.

Holy Cross’s Randolph threw for 314 yards and four touchdowns, three of those to receiver Freddie Santana. Santana and the rest of the Crusaders receiving core frustrated the Rams secondary all day.

Randolph’s first scoring strike of the game foreshadowed the rest of the afternoon. He connected with Bill Edger down the right sideline for a 39-yard touchdown, splitting James Crockett, FCRH ’10, and Robert Palmer, FCRH ’13 who were in coverage on the play.

Senior defensive back Isiejah Allen, FCRH ’10, made the next Rams blunder when he found himself in perfect position to intercept a Randolph pass in the endzone. Instead, the ball skipped off his hands and into the path of Freddie Santana’s crossing route putting Holy Cross up 14-3.

“We’ve probably been between four and five plays short every game this season,” Masella said. “We just haven’t made plays in big games.”

With three minutes to go in the third quarter and down 34-13, it looked like Fordham was about to come up with a big play when Skelton hit Jason Caldwell on a short crossing route. Caldwell turned and sprinted up the right sideline for 40 yards to the Holy  Cross 12-yardline, where a huge hit from John Myrick knocked the ball loose. Anthony DiMichele recovered for the Crusaders and broke off a run of his own, returning the loose ball 38 yards to the original line of scrimmage at the Fordham 43.

“That’s our season in a nutshell,” Masella said of the wild play.

As for the lack of punts, the Crusaders turned the ball over only three times, twice on interceptions and once on downs.

Fordam looked like it was lining up to punt early in the fourth quarter on a fourth-and-seven from their own 18 yard-line. Instead, punter Pat Murray, FCRH ’13, took the snap and tried to run to the right side, but fumbled the ball. Fordham’s Will Quan, FCRH ’11 recovered for a Rams first down.

The Rams capitalized on the favorable bounce, marching 71 yards on nine plays with Xavier Martin, FCRH ’10, capping the drive with a 17-yard touchdown run. The Staten Island native totalled 86 yards on 17 rushes and two touchdowns, moving him into fourth place on the Fordham all-time   leading rusher list with 2,496 yards.

The Rams next take on Bucknell at Rose Hill on Nov. 8. With three Patriot League games remaining on the schedule, Fordham could turn an 0-3 hole into a .500 season.

“It’s disappointing,” Skelton said. “But no one’s packed it in yet.”