Football Triumphs Against League Champs

Bill Stoklosa

Like the little engine that could, senior tailback Jordan Scott just kept running and running and running on Saturday as Colgate football opened its Patriot League schedule on the road against the Fordham Rams. He carried the ball a whopping 43 times for a career-high 272 yards and found the end zone four times, including the game-winning score with nine seconds left to give the Raiders a 31-24 victory. Along the way Scott became the all-time FCS leader in carries and became Colgate’s all-time leader in rushing yards.

“It’s a great accomplishment to be the all-time Colgate rusher,” Scott said. “It is a testament to the players who I have had the pleasure of playing with, who have helped me to get to this milestone.”

Last year a loss to eventual league champ Fordham in the Patriot League opener basically doomed Colgate’s chances of winning the league outright. At the beginning of this year’s game, it didn’t look like the results would be much different. On the first drive of the game, Fordham went up 7-0 on a two-yard run by Quasand Lewis. Later in the quarter, on a third-and-ten from the Colgate 20, Fordham quarterback John Skelton completed a pass to Nnamd Onyeabor for the touchdown and a 14-0 advantage.

Colgate answered back on its next possession with a 10-play, 69-yard drive capped off by a 15-yard run by Scott. A five-yard rush by sophomore quarterback Greg Sullivan on a fourth-and-two from the Fordham 37 was instrumental in keeping the drive alive. After the defense came up with a huge three-and-out on Fordham’s next possession, the Raiders got the ball back and squared the score, when Scott scampered in from two yards out to cap a 72-yard drive. There was no more scoring for the rest of the half and both teams went into the break all knotted up at 14.

In the third quarter, it did not take the Raiders long to vault into the lead. They got the ball to start the half and drove 73 yards in just six plays to pay dirt. Sullivan was key on the drive with a big rush for 25 yards and an enormous pass play to junior Pat Simonds for 24 yards. But it was Scott who once again finished the drive off with a touchdown run, this one from 24 yards out. Later in the third quarter, Fordham was able to get into a first-and-goal situation from the Colgate four, but Colgate’s defense held strong and the Rams picked up no yardage on their next three plays, settling for a 22-yard Adam Danko field goal, making the score 21-17. After a Colgate punt on their next possession, Fordham was driving when Xavier Martin fumbled the ball at the Colgate 26 and Raider junior safety Uzi Idah recovered the ball, only to fumble it back to Fordham who recovered it at the Colgate 18. Three plays later the Rams had a 24-21 lead thanks to a two-yard pass from Skelton to Asa Lucas.

“It was a little deflating,” Head Coach Biddle said regarding the missed opportunity to end the drive. “The important thing was we didn’t go into the tank but instead just went back out and played.”

Down by three the Raiders offense stepped up, eating 7:04 off the clock and driving down to the Fordham 16, where senior Jacob Stein hit a career-long 33-yard field goal to tie up the score. On the next possession, Colgate’s defense came up huge by forcing an incomplete pass on third-and-one to finish off a three-and-out. After the punt, Colgate took over on its own 28. Every play on the ensuing drive was either a rush by Scott or Sullivan. The key play was a 37-yard run by Scott that set Colgate up at the Fordham 31. Later on in the drive, with time ticking down, Scott ran into the end zone from three yards out to give Colgate a 31-24 advantage with just nine seconds left. After some attempts at trickery, Fordham fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and it was recovered by Colgate’s sophomore defensive back Gary Marshall as time expired. The win improved Colgate’s overall record to 3-2 and its Patriot League record to 1-0.

“Winning the first league game is very important because of the fact that you’re not starting out in a hole; you’re not fighting an uphill battle the whole year because you have to make that game up,” Coach Biddle said. “The good thing was that it was against a team that beat us last year and was favored to win the league.”

Scott was obviously the star last Saturday. In addition to breaking the FCS record for carries and the school record for yards, the 272 yards he gained was the second-best in team history, while his four scores matched a career-high. His 272 yards were the most by any FCS running back this year, and he leads all FCS rushers with 203.5 yards per game. Scott was named Patriot League Player of the Week for the second straight week for his efforts. In addition, Sullivan racked up over 100 yards on the ground for the second straight week. He had 107 ground yards on the day even though he completed just four passes for 42 yards. All told, Colgate rushed an astronomical 63 times for 379 yards. Scott gave the credit for the success to the guys up front.

“The rushing attack was successful because the offensive line dominated the line of scrimmage, Scott said. “We have the best O-line in the Patriot League and they played phenomenally Saturday night.”

On special teams Jacob Stein was also honored as Patriot League Special Teams Player of the Week. Not only did he hit a clutch career-long field goal, but he also nailed all his extra points and averaged a solid 43.0 yards per punt, landing two inside the twenty. The play of the defense is not to be overlooked. Their ability to hold Fordham to a field goal when Fordham had a first-and-goal from the Colgate four, plus the efforts that led to a three-and out right before Colgate’s winning drive were crucial to the victory. Leading the way on defense was junior defensive tackle Paul Mancuso, who had nine tackles and a forced fumble on the day.

Colgate will need to have a more balanced attack in the future, but for now, the Raiders can relish in the fact that they beat the defending league champions. Furthermore, Colgate now owns a crucial tiebreaker against Fordham that will come in handy if both teams end up in first.

The Raiders were scheduled to play Georgetown tomorrow at home, but due to an outbreak of the norovirus on the Georgetown campus, which has affected some members of the football team, the game has been canceled.

Next up for the Raiders is a two-game swing against Ivy League schools. Tha Raiders will host Princeton on Saturday, October 11, before heading to Cornell the following Saturday afternoon.