Fordham Rams Open Gridiron Season with a 52-23 Victory over Saint Francis (Pa.)

Howard Goldin

Fordham football is hoping to repeat or even better its greatest season in the FCS of 2013. Last year, under the direction of head coach Joe Moorhead, only in his second year at the helm of the squad, the Rams won 12 of its 14 games and went to the second round of the NCAA FCS Championship.

Expectations were high as this season began. In the preseason poll of coaches and SIDs of the Patriot League, 12 of the 14 voters chose Fordham to finish on top of the league’s standings. Eight Rams were selected to qualify as members of this season’s All-League Offensive Team and five others to qualify for the Defensive Team.

Fordham quarterback Mike Nebrich was named the choice as Offensive Player of the Year and Fordham defensive linebacker Stephen Hodge was chosen as Defensive Player of the Year.

The Rams selected 11/12 in the two major FCS polls lived up to expectations in their first contest of the year, easily defeating the Saint Francis Red Flash, 52-23. The game was even more one-sided than the final score exhibited as the Rams led 38-3 at the end of three-quarters.

The Rams have retained a large majority of last year’s starters, who now have an additional year of experience. Their biggest loss is graduate Calvin Koonce, who carried the football for more than 3,000 yards during the last two seasons. A possible replacement at running back, freshman Chase Edmunds, was spectacular in his first college game.

Emunds returned the first kickoff 65 yards to put Fordham deep in its opponent’s territory. Although a later Fordham fumble prevented an early score, Michael Marando kicked a 29 year field goal at 8:51. Marando later missed a field goal, but was successful in all seven attempts for extra points giving him 10 points in the game. His 120 points last season is second in points in a season in Fordham history. He may be successful in achieving the scoring mark in 2014, his senior year.

With 2:01 remaining in the first quarter, Nebrich

threw the first of three touchdown passes to give Fordham a 10-0 advantage. On the receiving end was Dan Light.

Nebrich connected on 14 of 16 he threw for 188 yards. His 23 year touchdown pass to sophomore Robbie Cantelli, in only his second college contest, raised Fordham’s lead to 17-0 at 13:39 in the second quarter. The third Nebrich TD pass came at 11:43 in the final quarter, and was thrown to one of his favorite targets, senior Brian Wetzel for 35 yards.

The success of two young running backs allowed the offense to not become totally reliant on the aerial offensive attack. Edmunds carried the ball 19 times for 181 yards including two touchdowns. In addition to his freshman yardage record in the offensive lineup, Edmunds returned three kickoffs for a total of 119 yards gained. Thud, he gained 400 yards during his first game in college.

Kendall Pearcey, a sophomore who carried the ball 19 times in his freshman season, was given the football 10 times on Saturday and gained 36 yards. The most important of those carries were the two touchdowns he scored. The graduate of Steinbrenner High School in Florida could most appropriately become an athletic hero in the Bronx.

Next Saturday, the Rams travel to Pennsylvania to face Villanova, #12.13, the team ranked directly below the Rams in both important national polls.