Nov. 3, 2007
Bronx, N.Y. - For the first time since 2002 and second time in school history, the Fordham Rams are going to the NCAA Division I Football Championship as champions of the Patriot League. The Rams used 167 rushing yards and a touchdown from Jonte Coven and a game-clinching interception from James Crockett with 10 seconds to play to knock off Holy Cross, 24-21, and clinch the Patriot League's automatic postseason berth and at least a share of the League title.
The Rams are idle next week, and will try to claim their first-ever outright Patriot League Championship when they host Bucknell on Nov. 17. Fordham has a 5-0 record in the League, one game better in the loss column than both Colgate and Holy Cross (3-1). Fordham, which earned a share of the League title in 2002, will be in search of the first outright championship and undefeated League record for any Patriot League team since Colgate in 2003.
Fordham's first-round playoff opponent and site will be announced along with the entire NCAA Division I Football Championship bracket on Nov. 18 at 3:30 p.m. on ESPNU. The playoffs begin on Nov. 24.
In other Patriot League action, Colgate won at home against Lehigh, 21-7, while Lafayette knocked off Bucknell, 34-7, in Easton. Georgetown lost a non-League contest at Marist, 37-34, in the first-ever triple overtime game involving a Patriot League team.
Fordham took control early against Holy Cross, as Coven ran for a 61-yard touchdown for a 7-0 lead just over two minutes into the game. The Rams extended the lead to 14-0 when quarterback John Skelton connected with Cody Kritzer for a 26-yard touchdown pass with two seconds remaining in the first quarter. Holy Cross cut the lead to 14-7 by halftime as Dominic Randolph hit Ryan Maher with a 30-yard scoring play in the second quarter.
The Rams re-gained a 14-point advantage with an opportunistic special teams play with 4:18 remaining in the third quarter. Crockett jumped on a muffed punt in the endzone for the touchdown to make the score 21-7. Holy Cross came right back to cut the deficit to 24-21 when Randolph hit Brett McDermott with a 19-yard scoring pass with 2:32 to play in the quarter.
Fordham took momentum back by relying on a rushing game that churned out 289 yards and was a big part of 36:30 in time of possession. The Rams ran all 12 times on a 61 yard-drive that culminated with a 32-yard field goal by Adam Danko for a 24-14 lead with 6:30 to play. Randolph led the Crusaders back again, and cut the Fordham lead to 24-21 with another scoring strike to McDermott with 4:06 left.
On the next possession, Fordham elected to go for it on a fourth-and-one at its own 30-yard line with 2:19 to play in the game. The gamble paid off as Skelton ran for the first down, forcing Holy Cross to use all of its timeouts to get the ball back. The Crusaders' last chance effort started at their own 33-yard line with 1:26 to play, and they moved to the ball to the Fordham 42. However, Crockett picked off Randolph's pass into coverage on a 3rd-and-10 play with 10 seconds left to preserve the Fordham victory.
"I am so proud of this team," Fordham Head Coach Tom Masella said. "They made all the plays they had and that's a tremendous credit to our seniors. They've been that way all year."
The Rams (8-2, 5-0 Patriot League) earn the Patriot League title in Masella's second season after going 1-5 in the Patriot League and 3-8 overall a year ago, and being picked to finish sixth in the League in the preseason. Freshman Xavier Martin chipped in with 75 yards on the ground, while Crockett had seven tackles, one fumble recovery and one interception. Randolph completed 32-of-53 passes for 309 yards with three touchdowns and one interception for Holy Cross (6-3, 3-1).
Colgate (6-3, 3-1) moved into a tie with Holy Cross for second place in the League with a 21-7 triumph over Lehigh (4-5, 1-3). The game was tied at 7-7 at halftime, but the Raiders took a 14-7 lead on a three-yard touchdown run by Alex Relph in the third quarter and notched the final score on a 26-yard run by J.J. Bennett early in the fourth quarter. Jordan Scott had 114 yards on the ground for the Raiders, his 11th consecutive effort over 100 yards rushing. The Raiders clinched their 11th winning season in 12 years under Head Coach Dick Biddle, who became the all-time leader with his 71st Patriot League game coached.
Lafayette (5-4, 2-2) scored the final 27 points of the game in a 34-7 victory over Bucknell (2-7, 0-4). The Leopards took a 14-7 lead on a 49-yard touchdown pass from Rob Curley to Shaun Adair early in the second quarter, and added on from there behind 269 rushing yards and 450 yards of total offense. Matt Ferber had 102 rushing yards, while Brandon Mitchell notched 72 yards and two touchdowns.
Georgetown (1-9, 1-4) became the first-ever Patriot League team to play a triple overtime game in its 37-34 non-League loss to Marist. The Hoyas fell behind, 21-14, late in the fourth quarter, but tied it at 21 on a 26-yard touchdown run by Charlie Houghton with 4:44 to play. The teams exchanged field goals in the first overtime and touchdowns in the second, with Houghton's fourth touchdown of the day tying it a 31 at the end of the second overtime. The Hoyas took a 34-31 lead in the third overtime, but lost it when Marist's Bo Ehikioya scored on a six-yard touchdown run. Houghton had a terrific individual day for the Hoyas with 163 rushing yards and four touchdowns, as well as eight receptions for 76 yards.
For complete game recaps of Saturday's Patriot League action, read the stories from school websites below:
Fordham Football Clinches Patriot League Title and Automatic FCS Playoff Bid
For the Holy Cross perspective, read: Holy Cross Drops Close Game at Fordham, 24-21
Colgate Defeats Lehigh 21-7 To Assure The Raiders A Winning Season
For the Lehigh perspective, read: Mountain Hawks fall to Raiders 21-7 in Hamilton
Lafayette Running Game Hits Stride on Football Senior Day With a 34-7 Win
For the Bucknell perspective, read: Bucknell Football Bottled up by Lafayette, 34-7
Marist Outlasts Georgetown in Triple Overtime, 37-34