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The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

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The Student Voice of Fordham Lincoln Center

The Observer

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Holy Cross Defeats Fordham Football on Family Weekend, 49-47

The Rams fell to their rivals in the Ram-Crusader Cup for the seventh consecutive time in front of a packed crowd
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COURTESY OF FORDHAM ATHLETICS
Fordham Athletics reported a sold out stadium for the Family Weekend game, as Fordham fans from all over filled Moglia Stadium to enjoy the picturesque weather and cheer on the Rams.

Family Weekend at Rose Hill brought sunny weather and packed stands to Joe Moglia Stadium. As the temperature broke 70 degrees and the seats filled with maroon-garbed supporters, Fordham football took the field to face their Patriot League rivals, the 22nd ranked College of the Holy Cross (HC) Crusaders. 

The game was marked as a sellout by Fordham Athletics, but a bustling stadium and beautiful weather could not will the Rams to victory, as a late pick six thrown by CJ Montes, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’26, led to the home team falling just short, 49-47.

The line to set up tailgates in the parking lot started early in the morning. By gametime, the entire lot had filled with cars, barbecues and a sea of tailgaters eager to support the Rams. There were so many people that even as the game began with Moglia Stadium’s bleachers filled, there remained a large contingent of Fordham fans at the tailgate enjoying the clear skies and unseasonable warmth.

While the Family Weekend festivities claimed a bulk of attention, the focal point of the afternoon was the football game. Both offenses woke up on the right side of the bed and it did not take long for the scoring to start. 

On its opening drive, Fordham marched down the field. Powered by the energy in the stadium, the Rams struck first and Montes delivered a strike to Garrett Cody, Graduate School of Arts and Sciences ’25, for a 36-yard touchdown. The roar of the crowd could be heard across the campus as Fordham took a 7-0 lead in swift fashion. 

Unphased by the hostile environment, the Crusaders’ offense got to work. This time around, they were led by quarterback Joe Pesansky, HC ’25, rather than Matthew Sluka, HC ’24, who started their previous game this season and their previous three matchups against the Rams. 

Sluka was not the starter because he didn’t “feel up to it” according to head coach Bob Chesney in a postgame interview, but the junior quarterback making his first collegiate start performed admirably in his place.

On Holy Cross’ ensuing offensive possession following the Rams’ touchdown, Pesansky completed his first pass attempt of the day for 21-yards to break into Fordham’s territory. He immediately followed that play with a confident 41-yard toss over the heads of the Fordham defense to Jalen Coker, HC ’24, for a touchdown to make it 7-7. Right out of the gate, Pesansky proved he belonged on the field.

The Rams appeared to be working on a productive drive upon receiving the ball once again, but a penalty and a sack pushed the offense out of field goal range and forced the team to punt. The Crusaders got back to work, moving down the field almost effortlessly. Pesansky connected with Coker for another 41-yard gain and the drive was capped with a 1-yard rush by running back Jordan Fuller, HC ’25, to give Holy Cross its first lead of the game, 14-7. Coker would finish with 102 receiving yards and a touchdown while Fuller added 116 rushing yards and two touchdowns. 

The lead seemed to be short-lived as Fordham squeezed in another touchdown courtesy of a 45-yard rush into the end zone by Julius Loughridge, FCRH ’25, just before the conclusion of the first quarter. Kicker Brandon Peskin, Gabelli School of Business at Rose Hill ’24, missed the ensuing extra point, however, and the Crusaders maintained a one point lead going into the second quarter. It could not have been known at the time, but this missed extra point would be crucial to the development of the game.

The Fordham defense forced a punt in the opening moments of the new quarter and quickly regained the lead with another long run by Loughridge. This time he found a gap and ran 50 yards for his second touchdown of the game. Fordham found itself on top once again, 20-14, but in keeping with the theme of the game the lead did not last for very long. 

A series of strong rushes by Fuller pushed Holy Cross toward the Rams’ end zone before the Crusaders stumbled upon a third down situation. Pesansky threw an incomplete pass that would’ve brought about a fourth down, and likely a field goal to preserve Fordham’s lead, but a defensive pass interference call meant that the Crusaders moved to the Rams’ two-yard line with a new set of downs. 

With that fortunate call, Fuller capitalized by powering into the end zone to reclaim Holy Cross’ lead, 21-20. The scoring was far from over, as both teams traded touchdowns, including a masterful 55-yard connection between Montes and MJ Wright, Gabelli Graduate School of Business ’24, on their next two possessions to rapidly increase the score to 28-27.  

Fordham scored once more before the half, credited to a 47-yard touchdown pass from Montes to Cody and entering the half the score sat at 34-28. To contextualize this high volume of scoring, in this past week’s slate of NFL games, only two games featured as many points in their entireties as Fordham and Holy Cross scored in their first half. 

In the second half, both coaches made concerted efforts to slow the game down and tighten up on defense. That did not stop Pesansky from delivering a looping pass to a wide open Tyler Purdy, HC ’24, for a 34-yard touchdown after the entire Fordham defense committed to stopping a run play that never happened. Holy Cross took a 35-34 lead with 12:26 remaining in the third quarter. 

It must have become clear that the scoring would not stop, so Fordham’s next possession took a methodical tone aimed at keeping the ball out of the Crusaders’ hands. The drive featured 12 plays, the most of any Fordham possession up until that point, and centered around short passes by Montes and rushes by Loughridge. 

Ultimately, Fordham still reached the end zone when Montes found Mekai Felton, FCRH ’24, cutting across the middle to give the Rams a 41-35 advantage. Holy Cross reciprocated with a long drive of its own, running 17 plays in a drive that spanned the final seven minutes of the third quarter and into the fourth. 

As the clock continued to tick, the atmosphere became more intense. Fordham’s fans made the ground tremble and filled the air with excited screams during every pivotal play. The Holy Cross offense was up for the challenge. Sluka even appeared when the Crusaders needed to convert a crucial fourth and two deep in Fordham’s territory.

Everyone in the stands and on the field understood the importance of this possession, but Chesney’s decision to run his offense onto the field when the Crusaders faced fourth and 10 on the Fordham 10-yard line still left many speechless. 

The play he called worked to perfection as Pesansky delivered a bullet to Coker for a contested catch in the end zone, but a holding call on Holy Cross negated the score and pushed the Crusaders back to the 20-yard line. Everything seemed to be going Fordham’s way, as the ensuing field goal was missed by Luis Palenzuela, HC ’26, and the Rams preserved their six-point lead. 

Fordham got the ball back but could not put anything together. The offense used only a minute of clock and failed to obtain a first down before being forced to punt. Holy Cross got the stop it needed but could not capitalize on it and quickly punted as well. 

Now with 11:15 remaining in the fourth quarter and a 41-35 lead, the Rams appeared poised to consume time and put the game out of reach. But once again, the offense could not convert a first down and punted after an exceptionally quick possession.

This time Holy Cross learned its lesson. In only six plays, the Crusaders were in the end zone, and Fordham had lost its lead. Fuller wore the Rams defense down with hard rushes up the middle, but it was Purdy who finally broke through for the 14-yard rush that made the score 42-41.

The game was far from over, however, as Fordham received the ball trailing by only one point with 6:34 remaining in the game. Montes immediately started the Rams’ push with two quick completions to Felton and Cody. Loughridge then found a hole to burst into Holy Cross territory. The Rams now sat at Holy Cross’ 45-yard line, just on the edge of field goal territory, as tension in Moglia Stadium began to build. 

A pass down the middle to Jeff Ciccio, FCRH ’24, nearly gave the Rams a quick first down, but the ball bobbled out of his hands and fell harmlessly. The crowd roared in anticipation as Montes stepped back to throw on second down. He went through his reads, scanning for an open receiver. 

As he moved out of the pocket it became clear that nobody was open and Montes threw the ball into a sea of players, hoping to hit a maroon jersey. Instead, it sailed into the hands of Matt Duchemin, HC ’24. He darted across the field and by any Rams hoping to stop him en route to a 68-yard pick six that extended the Crusaders’ lead to eight. 

The energy of the crowd was zapped as the packed stands fell into a stunned silence. Still, time remained, and Fordham found itself trailing by only one possession. The Rams quickly moved up the field, hoping for a miracle. Four consecutive completed passes from Montes broke Fordham into Holy Cross territory before the reins were passed to Loughridge. 

He powerfully drove through the Crusaders’ defensive line toward the goal line. Finally, with 54 seconds left, he broke through the wall of defenders, bouncing off of them and into the end zone to make the score 49-47. The Rams were now a two-point conversion away from sending the Ram-Crusader Cup to overtime.

The crowd nervously cheered on the home team as they lined up for the decisive play. There was an element of trickery, as Montes slid an unexpected pass to Loughridge hoping to catch the defense off guard, but there was no room to run and Loughridge was smothered before reaching the goal line.

Fordham’s attempt at an onside kick failed, and Holy Cross ran the clock down to win its seventh straight Ram-Crusader Cup, 49-47. Fordham now sits at 1-2 in the Patriot League and 5-3 overall. Lafayette remains the only unbeaten team in the Patriot League, leaving it more unpredictable down the stretch than in previous years.

“You can’t beat a good team, the defending champs, if you have that many penalties and obviously we turned the ball over and they didn’t,” Fordham head coach Joe Conlin lamented after the game. “(The Patriot League) is still wide open, plenty of teams can still lose games… I think we’ve got a really good football team.” 

Despite the loss, numerous Rams performed exceptionally well. Montes finished with 410 passing yards, four touchdown passes and only seven incomplete passes. Loughridge finished with an astonishing 211 rushing yards and three touchdowns while Wright and Cody combined for 291 receiving yards and three touchdown receptions. 

The Rams will look to get back on track against Bucknell University next week.



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About the Contributor
CHRIS MURRAY, Sports & Health Editor
Chris Murray (he/him), FCRH ’24, is a sports & health editor at The Observer. He is a political science and humanitarian studies double major with a minor in psychology. He is a Mets, Knicks and Rangers fan and spends his time trying new food or enjoying the outdoors.

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