The Rams offense powered Fordham to a resounding victory against Lehigh University.

Fordham Football Crushes Lehigh Mountain Hawks, 40-28

In their second Patriot League contest, the Rams competed at full throttle from beginning to end

The Fordham football team coasted to a 40-28 win against the Lehigh University (LU) Mountain Hawks on Oct. 8. Despite two quick touchdowns by the Mountain Hawks early in the game, the Rams were not discouraged. With contributions from quarterback Tim DeMorat, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’23, and receiver MJ Wright, Gabelli School of Business at Rose Hill (GSBRH) ’23, Fordham fired back for its second Patriot League victory of the season. 

DeMorat recorded 499 passing yards and four touchdowns. Wright was prolific on the receiving end, catching four balls for 226 yards and two touchdowns.

The Rams improved to 5-1 on the season and 2-0 in their conference following the win. It was also the first game of the season in which Fordham scored fewer than 45 points, underlining its high powered offense as well as their defensive shortcomings as opponents’ scoring has necessitated explosive outputs from the Rams’ offense.

For the better part of the season, opposing teams have been able to quickly run up scores and put the Rams on their heels. The Fordham offense has often had to work twice as hard as a result. This game seemed no different.

On Saturday, the Rams suffered a devastating first strike at the hands of Jalen Burbage, LU ’23, who received the opening kickoff and returned it 89 yards to the endzone. Following this lightning-quick score, the Mountain Hawks didn’t let up on the defensive end.

DeMorat frantically moved his team up the field. He threw short passes to Fotis Kokosioulis, FCRH ’23, and Mekai Felton, FCRH ’24. However, after arriving at Lehigh’s 42-yard line, a false start on Fordham stifled the offense. Two incomplete passes later, DeMorat was sacked for a 14-yard loss and then a fumble, which was returned 39 yards to the endzone by Dean Colton, LU ’23, for the Mountain Hawks’ second score of the game, 14-0. 

The Rams regrouped, and their next drive was more productive. With 10 minutes left in the quarter, a 42-yard rushing score by Julius Loughridge, FCRH ’25, began to tip the scales in Fordham’s favor. Subsequently, an excellent showing on defense by the Rams forced a Mountain Hawks punt, which only made it 36 yards before being caught by Kokosioulis.

In typical fashion, DeMorat took over. He swung the ball to Wright for a dozen yards before hitting him again for a 48-yard touchdown, all in the span of a minute. The score was now tied at 14, and the Mountain Hawks’ early outburst was quelled. 

As the second half began, Fordham received the ball, and DeMorat wasted no time.

Lehigh quarterback Dante Perri, LU ’24, struggled to get passes through to his receivers. He completed 19-46 passes during the game. With five minutes left in the first quarter, he attempted to convert a fourth down. Three yards separated the offense from a first down, but Perri’s pass attempt fell short. 

Fordham then took over possession, crawling back up the field as the game entered the second quarter. Small rushing plays, as well as a few receptions by Felton, advanced the Rams to Lehigh’s 7-yard line. However, a strong defense by the Mountain Hawks forced a 24-yard field goal by the Rams. Brandon Peskin, GSBRH ’24, drilled it, and Fordham finally took the lead, 17-14.

The Mountain Hawks’ next drive was long-winded. It lasted over seven minutes and included one fourth down and two third-down conversions. They managed to rush six yards through the goal line to score and retake the lead, 21-17.

Kokosioulis, while receiving the kickoff, handed Lehigh a blessing when he fumbled and turned over the ball at Fordham’s 28-yard line. The Mountain Hawks, however, seemed to bear no interest in such a gift. Perri recorded three consecutive incompletions and turned the ball right back over to the Rams with four minutes left in the half after another failed fourth down conversion.

DeMorat had had enough, and he dumped the ball to Wright for an emphatic 79-yard touchdown.

Although Fordham graciously took the ball back, they fared no better and were quickly forced to punt. At this point, Lehigh appeared to enjoy the back and forth, as Perri was kindly sacked for a loss on third down, forcing yet another punt.

A pass by DeMorat was then intercepted by defensive back Donovan Thomas, LU ’24, ending both the half and the game of hot potato that had started to develop.

As the second half began, Fordham received the ball, and DeMorat wasted no time. He launched the ball to Wright, who ran 63 yards to Lehigh’s 13-yard line. Felton joined in and received the ball for the final stretch into the endzone, putting Fordham back on top, 24-21.

Perri again failed to hit back, and his team was forced to punt for the third time. DeMorat, expressionless, took the field again and hit Kokosioulis with a 15-yard pass. After two quick rushes by Trey Sneed, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ’22, the Rams were in perfect position. DeMorat passed to Dequece Carter, GSBRH ’23, who ran 40 yards for the touchdown, 31-21.

Although typically reserved, DeMorat seemed inclined to celebrate. This drew the ire of the referees, who whistled for unsportsmanlike conduct, costing the Rams kicker Michael Bernard, GSBRH ’23, 15 yards.

Perri remained predictable on the Mountain Hawks’ turn at possession. Another incomplete pass on third down and Lehigh punted for the fourth time in the game. Fordham’s response was decisive. Loughridge rushed for 16 yards, followed by another rush of 14. Sneed then took over and rushed 12 more yards. 

Following this, DeMorat spotted Wright downfield and heaved a 36-yard pass to get the Rams up to Lehigh’s 5-yard line. Unfortunately, the offense sputtered in front of the endzone, but Peskin wasn’t worse for wear and nailed the 20-yard field goal with ease, 34-21.

With seven minutes left in the third quarter, the Mountain Hawks had an opportunity to salvage their effort. The remaining time was spent advancing the offense, including through another miraculous fourth-down conversion. Despite the struggle, Lehigh made it to Fordham’s 13-yard line by the end of the quarter.

The Rams secured their second Patriot League win in a row in their lowest-scoring game of the season.

At the start of the final period, Perri made a rare completion, this one to Connor Kennedy, LU ’24, for the Mountain Hawks’ final touchdown of the game, 34-28. Fordham followed by squandering possession, and Lehigh responded in kind with two incomplete passes and a 51-yard punt, their fifth. 

DeMorat had had enough, and he dumped the ball to Wright for an emphatic 79-yard touchdown. The Rams then inexplicably attempted a two-point conversion, but Loughridge was stopped short. The score now stood at 40-28. On Lehigh’s next possession, Natani Drati, Gabelli Graduate School of Business ’23, intercepted the ball at midfield. 

Fordham was ahead, but they refused to let up; there were still seven minutes left to play. DeMorat threw yet another deep pass, this time to Carter for 46 yards. However, DeMorat was sacked for a 13-yard loss on the next play, forcing a 33-yard field goal attempt. Peskin miscalibrated, and his kick went wide, keeping the score fixed.

Lehigh’s next drive was once again plagued with incomplete passes, resulting in a turnover on fourth down with four minutes left. Fordham could have taken it slow, but DeMorat, with the help of a 43-yard pass to Carter, got his team up to Lehigh’s 13-yard line before turning it over with 13 seconds left on the clock.

The Mountain Hawks aired out the ball and let the time trickle away as the Rams secured their second Patriot League win in a row in their lowest-scoring game of the season. The future is looking bright for the Fordham squad, but tough competition awaits as the season presses on. 

The Rams’ next game will be their final non-conference game against Stony Brook University on Oct. 15. The game will be played at Rose Hill and will feature a special half-time event to celebrate the birthday of University President Tania Tetlow, J.D. The Rams will then return to competing in the Patriot League against the College of the Holy Cross on Oct. 29.

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