Rams Use Grinding Defense to Wrestle Back Liberty Cup Title From Columbia University


Published: September 23, 2010

After losing the Liberty Cup to Columbia University last year, the Fordham Rams were out for revenge against their New York City rivals on Sept. 18.

The Rams reclaim the Liberty Cup after losing it last year to Columbia University. (Courtesy of Fordham Sports)

Coming off an impressive win at home against Rhode Island University on Sept. 11, the Rams used their grinding defense to hold the Lions to a single digit score. Walking away with a 16-9 victory over the Ivy League team, the Rams recaptured the Liberty Cup for the fifth time.

Full of energy, the Rams’ rushing offense got going early, with senior Xavier Martin’s, Fordham College at Rose Hill ’11, 34 yard rush. Blake Wayne, FCRH ’13, followed shortly after with a connection to senior tight end Stephen Skelton, FCRH ’11. With these two well executed plays, the Rams were able to get deep into Columbia territory.

Storming down the field on their first drive of the game, the Rams were finally halted at the Columbia six yard line. Forced to try a 24-yard field goal attempt, the Rams were able to take an early lead on Patrick Murray’s, FCRH ’13, successful kick.

From then on, it was a defensive battle between the two teams, with neither offense able to mount an effective attack. Down 3-0, the Lions were able to tie the game with a field goal of their own early in the second quarter.

Wayne struggled in the first half, passing for only 46 yards on 17 attempts. “Personally I struggled with a couple of my reads; throws weren’t really on key today,” Wayne said. Despite the struggling passing game, the Rams’ running game was effective. Martin led the ground attack at half time with 66 yards rushing, averaging 9.4 yards per carry.

At the start of the second half, the Rams were not at their best. Unable to take advantage of possession at the start of the third quarter, Wayne fumbled the ball at the Fordham 31-yard line. As a result of the blunder, the Lions were quickly able to score a touchdown. However, the Rams gained some redemption on the next play by blocking the Lions’ extra point attempt.

On the following drive, Fordham was able to narrow the lead with some big plays, including a Wayne pass to wide receiver Jason Caldwell, FCRH ’11, for 27 yards, and Darryl Whiting’s, FCRH ’12, 11-yard rush. The drive was stalled at the Columbia five-yard line, but the Rams still got three points out of the drive with a 22-yard field goal from Murray.

Down by three in the fourth quarter, the Rams fought their way back to tie the game up at 9-9, with Murray’s third field goal of the day. The deadlock was finally broken with 4:58 remaining in the fourth quarter, when Whiting rushed it in for the Rams’ only touchdown of the day.

Trailing by seven, the Lions mounted a furious comeback drive. After converting on a fourth down attempt, the Lions were able to get to the Fordham four-yard line. With a chance to tie the game up, Columbia faltered at the finish line, fumbling the ball in the red zone.

With the victory, the Rams took a 5-4 lead in the Liberty Cup series against the Lions and improved to 2-1 overall. “We played well,” said Tom Masella, Fordham’s head coach. “It came down to who made the least turnovers, and I think they made just one more in the second half.”

At the end of a great rushing game, Martin finished with 105 rushing yards. “Great game both teams had a great game,” Martin said. “It came down to the wire and we just prevailed. God was just looking out for us today.”

Starting out slowly, Wayne was able to pull through in the end, finishing the game throwing 130 yards and completing 17 of 28 attempts. “We scored when we needed to and a win is a win,” Wayne said.

Coming from behind for the second straight game, the Rams hope to get off to a quick start in their next game.” You know, I don’t know how many times we can get out of games like this. We need to come out a lot stronger, and you know, get up on a team early,” Wayne said.

Overall it was a solid win for the Rams, and the team will try to carry this momentum over to their next game against Assumption College. “It was a great football game for both teams,” Masella said. “My hat’s off to Columbia but also I’m really proud of our guys.”