Fordham Football Pulls Off Homecoming Victory

Tim+DeMorat

ALICE MORENO

Tim DeMorat threw for over 450 yards and five touchdowns in Fordham’s emphatic win.

By AURELIEN CLAVAUD

The Fordham football team came away with a gratifying victory, 48-45, in a heart-stopping contest against the University at Albany (UAlbany) Great Danes on Saturday, Sept. 17. After a deflating first half followed by an equally demoralizing third quarter, the Rams came back in the final minutes to the tune of 15 points and thunderous applause.

Fordham struggled to find an advantage early and trailed by up to 11 points until their fourth quarter miracle. A herculean effort by Tim DeMorat, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’23, brought nearly all of the receiving corps into play. He went for 464 yards and five touchdowns in the game, including two in the final quarter.

When Head Coach Joe Conlin sat down for the post-game press conference, he took a moment to catch his breath. He joked that he wouldn’t be able to take it for much longer if every game was this close. Despite the nail-biting stress he surely endured, he placed the credit squarely on his players.

“Great resiliency by our guys … the kids fought their tails off,” Conlin said.

He then praised UAlbany’s equally impressive effort to keep the game close. However, his thoughts on Fordham’s potential were loud and clear.

 “We didn’t play our brand of football (in the first half),” Conlin said. “But we were the more talented team.”

On Saturday afternoon, Fordham received the opening kickoff and started off promisingly. The Rams recorded a successful first quarter, scoring an early touchdown and a field goal to boot, 10-0. Linebacker James Conway, FCRH ’25, led the Rams’ defense early on, recording tackles that quickly ended any semblance of a UAlbany run. Conway would finish the game leading the team with 15 tackles.

Amid a cascade of media timeouts — four in the first quarter, with three more planned for the second — UAlbany frantically adjusted. When the second quarter opened, UAlbany had slowed a Fordham drive and put up a brick wall against running back Trey Sneed, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) ’22. On a third down and subsequent fourth down conversion attempt, the Great Danes’ defense held Sneer back, and he did not make a single yard of progress.

“I had a couple of errant throws.” Tim DeMorat, FCRH ’23

This defensive rally triggered an enormous advance by the Great Danes. In what felt like an instant, quarterback Reese Poffenbarger, UAlbany ’25, heaved his offense 56 yards and settled at the Rams’ 6-yard line. 

Being in the so-called “redzone”, it was no surprise that running back Todd Sibbley, UAlbany ’23, was the one to break the defense and flop into the endzone. Sibbley played for the University of Pittsburgh on scholarship and is touted by college scouts and recruiters. UAlbany promptly converted the extra point, setting the score 10-7 with 10 grueling minutes to go in the first half.

The Rams were not discouraged and began a campaign of incremental progress on their next drive. After five minutes of slow advance, DeMorat threaded the needle 20 yards to Garrett Cody, FCRH ’23, to score on third down. The extra point put the Rams up 17-7 with four minutes left in the half. The Fordham fans were jubilant, but UAlbany countered.

The Great Danes started their drive at their 25-yard line off a touchback. In the next 16 seconds, the Rams’ defense collapsed. Sibbley received a handoff and gunned it 75 yards into the endzone. Jack Coffey Field fell silent; taunting from the UAlbany bench could be heard from the press box. 

The start of the third quarter seemed to be a flicker of hope for Fordham.

The score was now 17-14, and the going was about to get tougher for the Rams. The next Fordham drive was punctuated by poor passing. DeMorat went 2/4, for just 17 yards on that drive.

“I had a couple of errant throws,” DeMorat said of the first half. “I wasn’t playing my game.”

With under three minutes remaining in the half, UAlbany wasted no time and marched to the Rams’ 9-yard line. Ryan Greenhagen, GSAS ’23, and Matt Jaworski, FCRH ’25, charged Poffenbarger in a last ditch attempt to prevent a score and managed to sack the UAlbany quarterback for a six-yard loss on a third down attempt.

The Great Danes opted for a field goal and drilled the 32-yarder over the crossbar. The game was now tied at 17 a piece. A minute remained when the Rams received the ball. The drive started at Fordham’s 35, but DeMorat stalled in the pocket, and Fordham’s offensive engine sputtered to a halt without a single yard gained.

It was in these waning seconds of the half that the referees began to throw their weight around. Albany started their drive with 48 seconds left on the clock, but play was halted multiple times for penalties against the Fordham defense. As Conlin alluded to after the game, the Rams were getting sloppy.

The sun was beating down on the crowd as Poffenbarger threw a bullet to Sibbley. He strolled, uncovered, into the endzone as the clock hit zero to conclude a sweeping UAlbany comeback, 24-17.

The start of the third quarter seemed to be a flicker of hope for Fordham. Fans were still filing in from the break as the Great Danes received the kickoff. During UAlbany’s first play, on their 33-yard line, Fordham lineman Richard Hofus, GSBRH ’24, forced a fumble that was recovered by Mike Courtney, FCRH ’24.

DeMorat capitalized on the field position and threw a deep pass right to Wright for a 33-yard touchdown. The game was tied at 24, and Fordham seemed to have tipped the scales back in its favor early. Fans shrugged off the heat and jumped to their feet.

“Poffenbarger played a hell of a game. He threw some balls in there that only his guys could get.” Head Coach Joe Conlin

UAlbany advanced emphatically on the next possession, focusing on the ground game. Their five-minute drive concluded with a 13-yard rush by Sibbley into the endzone to take the lead. The Great Danes were up 31-24 after the extra point.

DeMorat’s struggles continued, as multiple passes went awry amid heavy defensive pressure. Eventually opting for a field goal, the Rams knocked in three more points to close the gap, 31-27 with nine minutes to go in the third quarter.

Poffenbarger got to work, throwing two consecutive 25-yard passes, leading to a touchdown to give the Great Danes their biggest lead of the game. The Rams responded with a meager drive, and the quarter ended with little fanfare.

The energy at the opening of the fourth quarter was tense, as UAlbany led 38-27. Homecoming festivities were on the verge of being soured. However, DeMorat quickly hit Cody with a 50-yard touchdown pass to make it 38-33, reinvigorating both the team and crowd.

The receiving corps undeniably had the most offensive impact for the Rams.

The Rams’ defense, and particularly Conway, held fast and forced a UAlbany punt. This allowed a confident DeMorat to lead his team to UAlbany’s 19-yard line. He swung the ball to tight end Jaden Allen, FCRH ’25, who pranced into the end zone to give the Rams their first lead since the start of the first half, 41-38.

UAlbany retorted with a touchdown in 3:27 to retake the lead, 45-41. Poffenbarger carried the load and threw for 68 yards on the drive. 

“Poffenbarger played a hell of a game,” Conlin remarked afterwards. “He threw some balls in there that only his guys could get.”

DeMorat seemed to regain his form in the final minutes. After a 29-yard run by Sneed, DeMorat hit Fotis Kokosioulis, FCRH ’23, for a 15 yard gain on his ninth reception.

Opting for runs, Sneed threw himself at the defense until he finally broke through to the endzone, taking the lead once again with 4:50 remaining. The Rams were up 48-45 but had to face one last offensive effort by the Great Danes.

Fordham’s kick off was long. UAlbany managed to return it 20 yards, but a penalty call sent the line of scrimmage back to UAlbany’s 8-yard line. UAlbany was faced with a tough drive, with little time left and a lot of ground to cover. Their offense was even forced to call a timeout due to the deafening noise of a student section up in arms.

A miraculous 35-yard pass by Poffenbarger to Alexander marched the Great Danes to midfield. On fourth down, however, Nasir McNair, FCRH ’23, broke up a pass intended for Brevin Easton, UAlbany ’24, icing the game in favor of the Rams. The crowd’s standing ovation stressed the full weight of the victory.

“Albany’s a good team, UNH is tough and they played them right down to the wire.” Conlin

Fordham let the final three minutes trickle away, coming away with a hard-earned win. While perhaps not the cleanest of games, the Rams have nevertheless extended their win streak to 3-0, an excellent start to a season with high hopes.

DeMorat shone despite the lows, but he credits his receivers and his trust in them as a reason for the game’s success. DeMorat hit nine different receivers across the game. Kokosioulis led with nine receptions for 84 yards. Wright recorded seven receptions for 99 yards, and Garrett had an impressive 123 yards on four receptions.

“You love being in those close games on offense,” DeMorat said. “I trust all my guys. The receivers came up big. (Kokosioulis), (Cody), all those guys played great.” The receiving corps undeniably had the most offensive impact for the Rams.

Conlin was cheery, albeit exhausted, after the game. He pointed to the UAlbany defense early as an issue. “Defensively, through the first 30 minutes they stood tall,” Conlin said. “They gave us trouble, and we didn’t really get the ground game going until the fourth quarter.”

Overall, he was proud of the effort his team showed on the field. He espoused his confidence in DeMorat, but also in Greenhagen and Jaworski. But Conlin was honest that he had had no doubts that Saturday was going to be a slog.

“Albany’s a good team, UNH (University of New Hampshire) is tough,” Conlin said, “and they played them right down to the wire.” 

The victory over UAlbany concludes an exciting weekend at Rose Hill, featuring the President’s Ball on Friday and Homecoming festivities on Saturday. It also underscores the expectations for Fordham’s football team.

The Rams fell short of the Patriot League Championship in 2021 against Holy Cross University after a motivating six-game win streak. This year, the Rams are looking to turn the tide, particularly as they approach a major game next week, on Saturday, Sept. 24, against Ohio University (OU). OU is a major school that plays in the Mid-American Conference and is currently on a two-game slide, having lost in spectacular fashion to both Penn State and Iowa State Universities.

The OU Bobcats have paid Fordham $400,000 for the opportunity to play the Rams. If Fordham wins next Saturday, it would be a serious upset and bring major attention to Fordham’s football program. OU is the clear favorite, and the imposing Peden Stadium, with a capacity of 27,000, is guaranteed to be a battleground for the Rams.

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