Fordham Starts Conference Play with Three Straight Wins


Published: October 25, 2007

The Fordham University Rams entered their Oct. 13 contest against Georgetown University 2-0 in the Patriot League, while the winless Hoyas came seeking an upset on their home field.

Fordham seemingly stymied Georgetown’s chances with an explosive first half, but the Hoyas kept fighting. It wasn’t until defensive lineman Darzell Wright, FCRH ’10, stopped Georgetown’s tailback on a fourth-and-one with three minutes left that Fordham secured a 38-31 victory.

Georgetown drew first blood, driving 70 yards for a touchdown after receiving the opening kickoff. The score proved to be the Hoyas’ only first half touchdown, though they added a field goal in the second quarter.

The Rams followed Georgetown’s lead, scoring on a 15-yard touchdown pass from John Skelton, CBA ’10, to wide receiver Sylvester Clark, FCRH ’08, on their first possession. The score tied the game, but the Rams’ offense was far from finished.

Ben Dato, FCRH ’08, who leads the Patriot League in punting yards, didn’t need to take a snap until the third quarter. Fordham managed to score on their first six possessions, including a 26-yard touchdown courtesy of Skelton and David Moore, FCRH ’11, and touchdown runs of 11, one and 25 yards by Jonte Coven, FCRH ’08, Quasand Lewis, FCRH ‘11, and Xavier Martin, FCRH ’11, respectively.

Coven led the Rams’ ground attack with 152 yards, a season high, and one score. Newcomer Martin complimented the senior back with 119 yards and a score of his own, marking the second time this year that the two tailbacks turned in 100 yard performances.

“We really didn’t expect to be able to run the ball as many times for as many yards as we did,” Skelton said. “The [offensive line] moved people well up front and created holes. Then when [Georgetown’s defense] crowded the line, it opened up the play-action pass for us.”

With the win, Fordham improves to 6-2 overall and moves to 3-0 in Patriot League play, their best conference start since 2002.

“It’s good to see our team get wins against teams we haven’t beaten in the past,” said head coach Tom Masella.

Skelton shares his coach’s enthusiasm for the Rams’ conference success.

“We have a new mentality here,” he said. “We used to be bottom of the barrel in the Patriot League, but since Coach Masella came in, we’ve turned things around, and it feels great.”

History was not on the side of the Rams heading into their Oct. 6 match-up against Lehigh University at Jack Coffey Field, as the Mountain Hawks had won nine straight against Fordham, including a 45-14 drubbing a year ago.

On a day when John Skelton recorded career numbers, it was the Rams’ defense that handed Fordham the victory, including a 40-yard interception return for a touchdown by Earl Hudnell, FCRH ’08, in the fourth quarter and an Isiejah Allen, FCRH ’10, interception in the end zone on a fake field goal by Lehigh with one minute remaining. Skelton led the offense with 26 completions for 280 yards and three touchdowns as the Rams knocked off the perennial Patriot League standouts 28-18.

It was the Mountain Hawks that struck first, kicking a field goal on their first drive of the game. That Jason Leo kick would be all the scoring Lehigh would manage in the first half, however, as the Rams defense buckled down, forcing an interception by Kennith Thompson, FCRH ’09, and a missed field goal in the second quarter.

Skelton and the rest of the offense waited until the second quarter to score, when Richard Rayburn, FCRH ’09, hauled in a nine-yard touchdown pass from Skelton.

After a three-and-out by Lehigh, Skelton turned in his bid for play of the game, rolling to his right and completing a 41-yard touchdown pass to a wide-open Clarke to give Fordham a 14-3 advantage at the half.

Lehigh cut that lead to four shortly after halftime on an Alex Wojdowski touchdown reception, and the fourth quarter saw the Mountain Hawks pull within three points, but the Hudnell interception return quickly widened the gap.

With just 42 seconds left and the ball on the Fordham five-yard line, Lehigh’s  attempt at another pass out of the field goal formation led to the Allen interception, putting the finishing touches on a convincing defensive performance by the Rams in which six trips inside the red zone for Lehigh managed only two touchdowns.