Published: October 11, 2007
Some teams play their best football when the scoreboard isn’t in their favor. For better or for worse, the Fordham Rams are starting to look like one of those teams. Playing well despite double-digit deficits was the theme of Fordham’s two most recent games, as the Rams were able to claw their way back in the second half of both contests.
Fordham triumphed in their first Patriot League test of the season on Sept. 29 at Colgate University, scoring 21 points in the third quarter en route to a 34-31 come-from-behind victory. Quarterback John Skelton, FCRH ’10, turned in his best performance of the year, completing 17 of 29 passes including three scores. Skelton also contributed on the ground, leading Fordham in rushing and capping the Rams’ stellar third quarter with a 15-yard touchdown run.
Down 24-13 at half time, Fordham’s offense came out of the locker room looking like a different team, executing an eight-play, 73-yard drive culminating in an 11-yard touchdown pass from Skelton to Richard Rayborn, FCRH ’09.
Fordham’s defense also came alive, stopping Colgate tailback Jordan Scott on a key fourth-and-two. On the Raiders’ next drive, Matt Loucks, FCRH ’09, intercepted quarterback Alex Relph’s first attempt and returned the ball 28 yards inside Colgate territory.
The Rams wasted no time capitalizing on the turnover, scoring in under a minute when Asa Lucas, FCRH ’09, hauled in a 14-yard touchdown pass to give Fordham a 27-24 lead. Skelton’s rushing score on the next drive stretched the lead to 10.
“Our receivers do a good job getting open, so we always have the capability to score,” Skelton said. “Against Colgate, we made a few changes [to the game plan] at halftime, but mostly we just kept trying to execute on offense and it eventually paid off.”
Colgate refused to go quietly, however, as the Raiders drove 63 yards for a touchdown to open the fourth quarter and narrow Fordham’s edge to a field goal.
However, the Rams held tough. On their next drive, Colgate had a chance to even the score with a 37-yard field goal attempt, but defensive back Sam Orah, FCRH ’08, broke through the line and blocked the kick, which Fordham recovered with just over three minutes remaining in the game.
The Rams managed to pick up two first downs on the ensuing drive before running out the clock and sealing the win. The victory marked Fordham’s first 1-0 start in Patriot League play since 2004.
“Our kids keep battling,” Fordham head coach Tom Masella said. “I told these kids, ‘We have a chance against Colgate, just execute and protect the ball.’ Good things will happen to this team if they play hard each and every day, and we’re starting to do that.”
Fordham’s Homecoming game on Sept. 22 against the University of Dayton also featured a late-game comeback, but the Rams fell just short after managing to recover from three first half fumbles, losing 31-24.
“We didn’t know what we had [offfensively] in the first half because we turned [the ball] over early in the game and got out of sync,” Masella said.
The Fordham offense that had only managed to produce one field goal over the first forty-five minutes of play suddenly came alive in the fourth quarter, scoring three times and evening the score 24-24.
Skelton threw for two touchdowns in the frame, including a 33-yard strike to Richard Rayborn, FCRH ’09, that capped a three-play scoring drive that took just 20 seconds.
Ultimately, it was Dayton that provided the final fireworks of the high-scoring fourth quarter, as quarterback Kevin Hoyng connected with Nick Ruhe on a 69-yard touchdown pass to give Dayton a 31-24 edge.
Fordham’s carelessness with the football allowed Dayton to build an early lead, and it was once again a costly turnover that kept the Rams from answering the Flyers’ final score. Fordham forced Dayton to go three-and-out when a first down would have sealed the win, but the Flyers snatched the ball right back, picking off Skelton’s first offering and holding on for the win.
With the sizeable rallies in back-to-back games, Skelton has now thrown for over 200 yards and at least two touchdowns in four out of five games. His performance against Colgate earned him Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week honors.
“It’s a mix of a lot of things,” Skelton said of his sophomore success. “Our [offensive] line has been block ing up front, and we have receivers who are very good at finding open spaces on the field.”
Skelton and company will look to continue their Patriot League success on Oct. 13 at Georgetown University.