Football Comes Close, But Doesn’t Win Cigar

 

 

Max Yadin

Last Saturday, the visiting Fordham Rams beat Colgate 34-31 in the Raiders’ Patriot League opener. The Raiders fought hard and never let Fordham completely take control; however, while some might take comfort that it was a close game, the 34-31 loss was a defeat nevertheless.

In their opening drive, the Raiders gave Fordham a heavy dose of junior tailback Jordan Scott, who caught a short pass for 17 yards from junior quarterback Alex Relph to bring the Raiders to their own 40. Later on, Relph rolled out of the pocket, avoided a tackle from behind and connected with senior wide receiver Erik Burke for a first down. Unfortunately, Colgate was unable to sustain the drive and had to punt. Fordham took over inside its own 10-yard line. After being stopped at the line of scrimmage, Fordham sophomore quarterback John Skelton’s pass on third down was batted away by Colgate sophomore free safety Uzi Idah, which forced a Ram punt. Colgate subsequently proceeded to execute a picture perfect drive that ended with a 14-yard Burke touchdown reception. The key play was a 44-yard reception by sophomore wide receiver Pat Simonds, who has quickly established himself as Relph’s second option.

Colgate’s good fortune didn’t end there, as senior fullback Robert Wenger recovered the ensuing muffed kickoff on the Fordham 19-yard line. After Scott lost five yards on two plays, Relph threw a 13-yard pass to senior David Morgan and handed the ball off to Scott for a two-yard gain that gave Colgate the first down by a nose. Two plays later, Relph pitched to Scott in the backfield, who ran with ease into the end zone to make the score 14-0. Unfortunately, the Fordham Rams came right back on their next drive and scored when running back Quasand Lewis ran the ball in from the three-yard line.

Neither team scored for the rest of the first quarter. In the second period, senior Mike Buck kicked a 46-yard field goal, his second one from that distance this season. Later in the second quarter, Skelton found Richar Rayborn in the back of the end zone for a touchdown, but Adam Danko failed to convert the extra point and the score remained 17-13, Raiders. Although the Raiders went three-and-out on their next possession, Colgate was able to capitalize on an interception in which a Skelton pass ricocheted off two Raider defenders and into the hands of senior linebacker Mike Gallihugh, who ran it back to the Fordham 10. Scott ran the ball in for his second touchdown of the game, and the home team took a 24-13 lead into the locker room.

The Skelton-Rayborn combination clicked for a second time on Fordham’s opening possession of the second half, cutting the Raiders lead to four. After Relph threw an interception on a pass intended for Burke, the Rams took the lead for the first time on Skelton’s third touchdown pass of the game. After another untimely Raider three-and-out, the Rams increased their lead to 34-24 when the unstoppable Skelton rolled his way into the endzone. Skelton was both Fordham’s leading rusher and passer on the day.

“They spread us out and made us defend a lot of area,” said Head Coach Dick Biddle. “We had a problem containing the quarterback; you have to give them credit.”

After Skelton’s fourth score, Relph threw his second touchdown to Burke on a third-and-eight pass play from the Fordham 13, cutting Fordham’s lead to three. A crucial Colgate defensive effort led to a Fordham three-and-out. Colgate started with the ball on its own 19-yard line with 11 minutes remaining. Unfortunately, the drive stalled on the Fordham 20. Buck came in to attempt a 37-yard field goal with minutes remaining. The snap was great, the hold was too but the blocking was nonexistent. Fordham’s Sam Orah ran unabated to Buck and snuffed out his field goal attempt. The Rams ran out the clock until the final whistle was blown.

Despite the defeat Coach Biddle was still upbeat after the loss. “We can’t let that game effect the next,” he said. “You just have to keep plugging. It’s far from over.” Colgate hosts Bucknell for Homecoming on Saturday at 1 p.m.