Sept. 24, 2011
Fordham fans didn't have much to cheer about in the first half as their Rams were down, 14-7, to Rhode Island. But in the second half, Fordham made a comeback, eventually taking a 17-14 lead late in the fourth quarter before the home team scored with 1:13 left as Rhode Island upended Fordham, 21-17, in Meade Stadium.
With the loss, Fordham falls to 1-2 on the year while Rhode Island picks up its first win to also go to 1-2.
"That was a great college football game," said Fordham head coach Tom Masella. "Give Rhode Island credit. They really came at us in the first half and I liked the way we responded in the second half but we have a young team that has to learn to play sixty minutes of football."
Rhode Island's nickname is also Rams but today they could have been called Wildcats as they used that offensive formation to perfection with wide receiver Anthony Baskerville rushing for a game-high 119 yards on 12 carries out of the backfield, part of 350 rushing yards for Rhode Island in the game.
Conversely, the Fordham offense had problems getting on track, being held to 194 total yards, with most of that coming in the second half. Because of that, the Fordham defense was on the field for over 39 minutes as Rhode Island ran 79 offensive plays to 59 for Fordham.
Fordham junior punter Patrick Murray had a solid day for the Rams, kicking eight times for 417 yards, an average for 52.1 yards/punt, with four of his punts traveling more than 50 yards, including a 73-yarder, tying his career-high as the second longest punt in school history (the Fordham record is 85 yards by Len Eshmont in 1939). Additionally, six of his eight punts landed inside the Rhode Island 20.
Trailing 14-10 with 5:07 left in the game, Fordham took over on the URI 35 following a ten-yard Rhode Island punt. Quarterback Peter Maetzold connected with Brian Wetzel for a four-yard gain on the first play and, after an incomplete pass, found Wetzel again for a seven-yard pick up and a first down. Maetzold then hit Carlton Koonce over the middle with a five-yard pass before rolling to his left and down the sideline with a 19-yard scoring rush to give Fordham a 17-14 lead with 3:52 remaining.
Rhode Island started the ensuing drive on its own 22 following the kickoff and gained 20 yards on the first play on a Stephen Probst pass to Baskerville. Two rushes picked up 24 yards for URI, moving the ball to the Fordham 34 where Travis Hurd gained ten yards on first down to the 24. Two more Rhode Island runs netted six yards and the home team faced a third-and-five from the 18 when Probst threw for Brandon Johnson-Farrell in the end zone. The pass was incomplete but Fordham was flagged for interference and for an unsportsmanlike conduct, giving Rhode Island the ball on the two.
Fordham had one last chance to retake the lead as Maetzold drove the squad from its own 29 to the URI 21 where a second down pass was intercepted by Doug Johnson with 20 seconds on the clock. One of the big plays for the drive was a 22-yard completion from Maetzold to Wetzel, where Wetzel made an acrobatic catch over a defender. The other big play was a 10-yard pass to Aaron Mays on fourth-and-five from the Rhode Island 34.
Rhode Island jumped out to a 7-0 lead, taking the opening kickoff and covering 62 yards on six plays with De'ontray Johnson scoring on a 38 yard rush 2:51 into the game.
The home team threatened again on their second possession but Brendan Melanophy knocked down a Probst pass on fourth-and-five from the Fordham 34 to thwart the URI scoring chance.
Fordham used that momentum to put its first points on the board, scoring what appeared to be the tying touchdown on a 38-yard Maetzold run before seeing it called back on a holding penalty. Fordham then settled for a 20-yard Michel Marando field goal five plays later to trim the Rhode Island lead to four, 7-3, with 1:00 left in the first.
The score remained 7-3 until Rhode Island took over on its own 32 following a punt with 9:42 left in the half. Rhody drove to the Fordham ten where it faced a fourth-and-two when Baskerville gained eight in the wildcat formation to put the ball on the two. Hurd covered those two yards on the next play to give Rhode Island a 14-3 lead with 4:11 remaining in the second.
Midway through the third quarter, Rhode Island had a fourth-and-five on the Fordham 32 when Probst attempted a pass but the ball slid out of his hand and was downed on the Fordham 45. Fordham used that field position to score its first touchdown of the game, moving 55 yards on nine plays, aided by an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Rhode Island that put the ball on the URI 19. On the next play, Maetzold found a diving Koonce over the middle with a scoring strike to make it a four-point game, 14-10, with 3:03 left in the third.
Early in the fourth, Fordham was forced to punt from deep in its own territory and Johnson-Farrell fielded the ball on the 50 and was just about to cross the goal line when Patrick McGee punched the ball out of his hands on the Fordham three and the fumble was recovered by Kevin Carter on the Fordham 13 (the play would have been called back on a pair of illegal blocking penalties on Rhode Island).
Maetzold completed 19 of 35 passes for 166 yards and one touchdown with six of those passes going to Wetzel for 71 yards and four to Koonce for 33 yards, including the touchdown pass.
Defensively, Andre Delaire led all tacklers with a career-high 16 tackles, eleven solo, including one for loss, while Carter, Jake Rodriques and Michael Martin each notched nine tackles with two of Rodriques' stops being for loss.
Fordham will next be in action next Saturday, October 1st, as they travel up to Hamilton, N.Y., to open the Patriot League portion of the schedule at Colgate University at 1:00 P.M.
Fordham now leads the all-time series, 6-5... Delaire's previous career-high in tackles was eight against Columbia last week... Murray is now averaging 47.4 yards/punt on the year (the Fordham single season record is 45.8 by Barry Cantrell in 1997)... Marando's first quarter field goal was the first of his collegiate career... After allowing just four sacks in the first two games combined, Fordham surrendered six sacks today... Fordham fans will see Baskerville again this year as he is a walk-on with the Rhode Island basketball team... The 350 rushing yards by Rhode Island are the most allowed by a Fordham team since Colgate gained 379 yards on the ground in 2008... Rhode Island is playing its final year in the Colonial Athletic Conference this fall before moving to the Northeast Conference next year... The game was played without play clocks and an unofficial game clock on the scoreboard due to technical difficulties... The game clock was shut off for the final two minutes of each quarter as the official clock was kept by the officials on the field.