Colgate’s Patriot League opener against Fordham last Saturday at Andy Kerr Stadium was a strange game capped off by one of the most bizarre endings you’ll ever see. In the end though, the Raiders escaped with a 20-12 win to pick up their first league win of the year, and improved their overall record to 4-0.
In the middle of the first quarter it appeared that Colgate would score the game’s first points when a 23-yard rush by sophomore running back Jordan McCord put Colgate up at the 1-yard line. However, McCord failed to gain any ground on two successive running plays, and then a pass from junior quarterback Greg Sullivan was broken up by Fordham. The Raiders decided to go for it, but this time McCord fumbled the ball into the end zone. The ball was recovered by the Rams for a touchback.
It looked like momentum might be going Fordham’s way after the turnover, since they drove all the way to the Colgate seven, and after a run for a gain of four on third-and-five, Fordham faced a fourth-and -short from the Colgate three. The Rams went for it, but QB John Skelton was stuffed by a plethora of Colgate tacklers.
After a botched field goal by Colgate and a missed field goal by Fordham, Colgate’s offense finally got on the board in the second quarter. Sullivan connected with senior receiver Pat Simonds on a 22-yard strike to bring the ball to the Fordham 29. Five plays later, Sullivan ran the ball in from one yard out to give Colgate a 6-0 lead. The kicking troubles continued as first-year Evan Colborne missed the extra point.
The Rams quickly answered. Fordham had a 28-yard kick return on a short kick that gave the Rams a start at the 50-yard line. It took just five plays for Fordham to punch the ball into the end zone, and they evened the score at 6. Colgate just ran out the clock on their next possession and went into the locker room tied at 6.
Colgate got the ball to start the second half, and drove down to the Ram 19, before Colborne missed a 35-yard field goal attempt. Fordham though went three-and-out on the ensuing possession, and Colgate’s offense took off after the punt. The Raiders drove 80 yards in just 8 plays on a drive that was capped off by an 18-yard pass from Sullivan to Simonds in the end zone. Colborne nailed the PAT this time and Colgate moved into a 13-6 lead.
However, Fordham quickly came back down to get a touchdown of their own. Fordham got down to the Raider 11 thanks to a 36-yard run. Two plays later they ran the ball in from five yards out to cut the lead to 13-12, but they again missed the PAT. This time, senior defensive tackle Carlton Walker blocked the kick.
In the fourth quarter, the Raiders extended their lead with an exceptional 79-yard drive that ate up 5:59 off the clock. The drive was made up entirely of rushes by McCord and Sullivan, until the final play of the drive, when Sullivan hit a wide open junior tight end Nick Cvetic for a seven-yard touchdown pass. Colborne nailed the kick to put Colgate up 20-12. Fordham went three-and-out on their possession and punted the ball back to the Raiders. After another Raider possession, Fordham got the ball at their own 13.
The Rams offense took over with 1:39 left on the clock, needing a touchdown and a two-point conversion to knot up the score. Facing a fourth-and-22 from their own goal line, it looked like Fordham was toast. John Skelton was almost sacked in the end zone on the fourth down play, but he evaded the rush and connected on a 33-yard pass to jason Caldwell pick up the first down. After spiking the ball, he threw two straight incompletions and faced a fourth and 10 from his own 34. However, he converted again, this time a 46-yard completion again to Caldwell that brought the ball up to the Colgate 20. On the next play, Walker teamed with junior linebacker Zach Smith and sacked Skelton. Fordham tried to get a play off in time, but the clock ran out. Colgate started to celebrate.
Then, Fordham Head Coach Tom Masella felt that there was still some time left when the ball had been snapped and told his quarterback to keep playing. He delivered a pass to an uncovered receiver and Masella tried to argue a touchdown had been scored. His screaming at the officials did not pay off because the clock had clearly run out before the ball was snapped.
The game went into the books with 20-12 as the final score. The win improved Colgate’s record to 4-0, with a 1-0 mark in the Patriot League.
“I thought we played very well on defense, “Head Coach Dick Biddle said. “They [Fordham] have been scoring close to 30 points a game, and we held them to 12. They’ve been scoring close to 30 points despite turning the ball over. On Saturday they didn’t turn the ball over, and we still held them to 12 points. We also held their quarterback to below his average. The defense was the key to us winning that ball game.”
The offense was not too shabby either. Sullivan was named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week after throwing for 189 yards and two touchdowns, while rushing for 109 more and another score. Most of his passing yards were to Pat Simonds who racked up 159 receiving yards and a TD.
“He’s a big play man,” Coach Biddle said speaking of Simonds. “He’s got a size advantage. We were struggling on offense and we made an effort to get him the ball. We knew that if we could get him the ball he would be capable of making the big play.”
Sophomore running back Jordan McCord also put up big numbers with 192 yards on the ground. Colgate outrushed Fordham 299-79.
Colgate will next be in action this Saturday in a 1:00 home tilt against Cornell for homecoming. The Raiders enter the game ranked 25th in the Sports Network Poll for Division 1-FCS.