Fordham Football Drops Season Opener to Holy Cross, 34-24

The Rams failed to stop Holy Cross’ strong rushing attack and could not overcome it on the offensive end



Despite a strong offensive performance, Fordham’s struggles on defense and special teams were costly in the team’s game against Holy Cross.


Fordham lost its 2021 spring season opener on Saturday, March 27 to the College of the Holy Cross (CHC) Crusaders, 34-24. The loss may prove to be particularly devastating, as this is one of possibly only four games the Rams will play prior to the Patriot League Championship. 

The two teams took very different approaches on offense throughout the game. The Crusaders countered Fordham’s pass-heavy attack with a strong running game, which Fordham failed to find an adequate answer for. 

For the Rams, Tim DeMorat, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’22, had a very solid game. The star quarterback threw for 440 passing yards and two touchdowns but also led the team in rushing yards, scrambling from the pocket to gain 44 of the Rams’ 86 total rushing yards.  

DeMorat gained more yards through the air than the entire Crusaders offense, but Holy Cross also succeeded offensively. Despite gaining just 362 total yards on offense, the Crusaders found the endzone three times. 

The team will need to reevaluate its gameplan before facing Colgate University on April 3, as the shortened season leaves little room for error.

The Rams started the game efficiently, disguising the fact that they hadn’t played a competitive game in 490 days. On the team’s first drive, Fordham marched into Holy Cross territory before wide receiver Dequece Carter, Gabelli School of Business at Rose Hill (GSBRH) ’23, converted a screen into a 46-yard touchdown. Carter would go on to have a fantastic 2021 debut, catching 11 targets for 155 yards.

Holy Cross responded swiftly, with Derek Ng, CHC ’22, connecting on a field goal from 47 yards out. Holy Cross got the ball back with 4:20 left in the first quarter after a Fordham punt. The Crusaders’ drive resulted in another successful field goal for Ng, this time from 37 yards to cut the Fordham lead to one. The score remained 7-6 through the end of the first quarter, with the Rams driving down the field as the quarter closed.

Fordham continued to find offensive success to start the second. The Rams drove 73 yards to the Holy Cross 1-yard line before running back Trey Sneed, FCRH ’21, punched through the goal line for another Fordham touchdown. After a successful extra point, the Rams found themselves with an eight-point lead, 14-6.

The two teams traded possessions in the forms of punts, turnovers on downs and missed field goals before Holy Cross found some momentum. After another failed drive, Fordham found itself lining up to punt from its own 20-yard line. Holy Cross defensive back Terrence Spence, CHC ’24, broke through the Rams’ offensive line and blocked the punt before recovering the ball in the endzone for a touchdown and once again cutting the Fordham lead to just one point.

Fordham was determined to respond, mustering a 49-yard drive into the Crusaders’ red zone. With six seconds left in the half and seated at Holy Cross’ 10-yard line, DeMorat attempted a pass into the endzone which was intercepted. This play proved to be a momentum-shifter, as the Holy Cross offense came out much stronger in the third quarter. 

The X-factor for the Crusaders in the second half was first-year quarterback Matt Sluka, CHC ’24. Following a Fordham turnover on downs and a 48-yard rush by running back Peter Oliver, CHC ’22, Sluka rushed for 15 yards into the endzone to give Holy Cross its first lead of the game, 20-14, a lead they would not surrender for the rest of the game. 

After Fordham responded with a 19-yard field goal, Sluka found the endzone again, this time rushing for 57 yards to extend the Crusaders’ lead to 10 before the end of the third quarter. 

Fordham’s second half struggles continued in the fourth as the team began with yet another turnover on downs. Holy Cross capitalized on the turnover, with none other than Matt Sluka leading the Crusaders down the field before connecting with Jalen Coker, CHC ’24, for an 11-yard touchdown with 7:52 left in the fourth quarter. 

Fordham quickly drove down the field, with DeMorat finding M.J. Wright, FCRH ’23, for a 30-yard touchdown, once again cutting the Holy Cross lead to 10. The comeback effort, however, proved to be too little, too late.

A missed field goal by the Rams with 3:00 left in the game squashed any hopes Fordham had of coming back. Holy Cross got the ball back and after a brief drive, Sluka knelt to end the game. He finished the game with 145 rushing yards, two rushing TDs, 33 passing yards and one passing TD, leading the Crusaders to the 34-24 victory. 

Ultimately, the Rams punted just twice in the game while turning the ball over on downs three times. The Fordham loss drops their season record to 0-1. The team will need to reevaluate its gameplan before facing Colgate University on April 3, as the shortened season leaves little room for error.