Mistakes and Missed Opportunites: Rams Stumble to Fourth Consecutive Loss

Ayer+Chan%2FThe+Observer+The+Rams+defense+had+a+dismal+performance%2C+allowing+almost+600-yards+of+offense+and+surrendering+32+points+to+Mountain+Hawks.

Ayer Chan/The Observer The Rams defense had a dismal performance, allowing almost 600-yards of offense and surrendering 32 points to Mountain Hawks.

Ayer Chan/The Observer The Rams defense had a dismal performance, allowing almost 600-yards of offense and surrendering 32 points to Mountain Hawks. (Ayer Chan/The Observer)

By Mike McMahon
Staff Writer
Published: October 19th, 2011

In a game that was close as late as the third quarter, with the Rams trailing 20-12 after an 82-yard touchdown pass, Fordham could not capitalize on several opportunities, falling to the Lehigh Mountain Hawks 32-14.

The Rams quickly fell into a 10-0 hole after the Mountain Hawks scored on each of their opening drives. Despite several small responses, Fordham failed to come up big when they needed it most, and suffered their fourth consecutive loss, leaving them 1-5 on the season.

In the first quarter, with the Mountain Hawks driving up 3-0, the Rams defense had Lehigh quarterback Chris Lum dead to rights in the backfield on third and 10 on Fordham’s 17-yard line. Just when it looked like the Rams’ red zone defense might be the story of the game,  Lum escaped and threw a 17-yard score, putting the Mountain Hawks up by 10. On the following drive, a 49-yard completion led to the Rams driving all the way to the Lehigh 11, but a lost fumble left Fordham with nothing to show for the drive.

After the turnover, Patrick McGee, Fordham College at Rose Hill (FCRH) ’12, blocked a Lehigh punt attempt for a safety. On the ensuing free kick, Fordham seemed to be building momentum, returning the ball all the way to the 50. The Rams marched down the field on a run-heavy drive that culminated in a field goal, putting the team within sight of the lead. However, this would  be as close as they would get.

Lehigh tore apart the Rams’ defense on the next drive with a slew of accurate short passes, scoring a touchdown on the last one, a two-yar pass to Lehigh fullback Zach Hayden.

The game was not without its highlights; in fact, it was the big moments that made you wonder just why the Rams could not win it. Between the blocked punt, several completions of 15 or more yards (including an 82-yard touchdown from Ryan Higgins, FCRH ’13, to Greg Wilson, FCRH ’13), and a few great red-zone stands, it took a few good looks at the scoreboard to truly realize that the game was out of hand late.

And yet, for all the notable moments the team had, they blew opportunity after opportunity. Down 27-12 and nearing the end of the third quarter, the defense gave up the fatal dagger, a 62-yard score to Lehigh receiver Ryan Spadola.

Though the Rams gave up two runs of considerable length and were buried by a 62-yarder, the story of the day was the surgical and methodical movement of the Mountain Hawks’ offense. No three plays seemed particularly noteworthy, but strung together, they resulted in first down after first down. Asking the average fan leaving the game, not one of them likely would’ve guessed at the total yardage surrendered by the home team’s defense, a staggering 598-yards on 90 plays.

The late-game play calling by Fordham bordered on baffling. With less than four minutes to go and a huge deficit, the Rams ran three straight run plays deep in their own territory, giving the home crowd little respect for sticking around. A football team cannot expect to win if it’s willing to roll over when the going gets tough.

When asked about the Rams’ struggles, Katy Piszczek, Fordham College at Lincoln Center (FCLC) ’14 said, “Fordham needs to be more aggressive. They would have closer games if they would begin to capitalize on their opportunities. It’s hard to stay competitive when the offense only scores a total of 12 points.” Others took a different perspective. Liz Cole, FCLC ’14, said that instead the defense should do a better job of containing the opposing offense. “When the opponent can move up and down the field as easy as Lehigh did, there’s a defensive problem that needs to be looked at,” Cole said.

The problem existed on both sides and despite two interceptions, a blocked punt, an 82-yard touchdown pass, and a few good red zone stands, Fordham never held the lead. The Rams had the feel of a competitive football team, but without the score to prove it.