Fordham Heads to Towson for NCAA FCS Second-Round Playoff Game

PATRIOTLEAGUE.ORG Fordham Head Coach Joe Moorhead
PATRIOTLEAGUE.ORG
Fordham Head Coach Joe Moorhead
PATRIOTLEAGUE.ORG

Dec. 4, 2013

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CENTER VALLEY, Pa. - No. 9/10 Fordham won an FCS playoff game for the first time since 2002 when it topped Sacred Heart 37-27 in the first round Saturday. Now, the Rams try to make it to the quarterfinals for the first time since that same season when they visit No. 4/5 Towson on Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPN3.

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Patriot League Twitter Notebook - @PatriotLeagueFB
*No. 9/10 Fordham continues its playoff run with a second-round game at Towson on Saturday.
*The 1 p.m. kickoff will be shown on ESPN3.
*Fordham is trying to advance to the FCS quarterfinals for the first time since 2002.
*The Rams are also aiming to become the seventh Patriot League team to make it to the quarterfinals.
*Lehigh was the last to do so when it won 40-38 in a second-round game at Towson in 2011.
*Fordham is trying to join Colgate (2003) as the only Patriot League teams to win multiple FCS playoff games in a season.
*Fordham defeated Sacred Heart 37-27 in a first-round FCS playoff game at home on Saturday.
*Fordham won a playoff game for the first time since 2002.
*The Rams became the first Patriot League team with at least 12 wins since Colgate in 2003, and the fourth all-time.
*Patriot League teams are a collective 10-20 in FCS playoff competition, with a 6-12 mark in the Round of 16.
*Fordham's Michael Nebrich was announced this week as the fifth-place finisher for the Walter Payton Award.
*The winner of the Fordham-Towson game will face the winner of Tennessee State-Eastern Illinois in the quarterfinals.
*Colgate Head Coach Dick Biddle announced his retirement this week.
*Associate Head Coach Dan Hunt will be promoted to take over as the 29th head coach in Colgate history.

Patriot League Notebook
FORDHAM GOES FOR FIRST QUARTERFINAL BERTH SINCE 2002
No. 9/10 Fordham won an FCS playoff game for the first time since 2002 when it topped Sacred Heart 37-27 in the first round Saturday. Now, the Rams try to make it to the quarterfinals for the first time since that same season when they visit No. 4/5 Towson on Saturday at 1 p.m. on ESPN3. Fordham's only quarterfinal trip came after a first-round win at Northeastern (29-24) when the bracket was still at 16 teams in 2002. Patriot League teams have advanced to the quarterfinals six times, and once in the last nine years. Fordham is trying to join Colgate (2003) as the only Patriot League teams to win multiple FCS playoff games in a season.

REPEAT OF 2011?
Fordham hopes to become the first Patriot League team to make the quarterfinals since Lehigh did it in 2011, and the matchup on Saturday has great parallels with the Mountain Hawks that season. Lehigh brought a dynamic offense into Towson for a second-round matchup and came away with a 40-38 victory, winning with a safety midway through the fourth quarter. Fordham goes to Towson on Saturday with the same type of profile, as quarterback Michael Nebrich leads a great group of skill position players for a team averaging 38.3 points per game. Like the Mountain Hawks did two years ago, the Rams are trying to deny Towson its first postseason win.

COLGATE'S DICK BIDDLE ANNOUNCES RETIREMENT; DAN HUNT TO BECOME NEXT HEAD COACH
Dick Biddle announced his retirement from Colgate this week after 18 seaons and as the winningest coach in Patriot League history. He compiled a 137-73 (.652) overall record and won three out of every four conference games he coached, finishing 81-27 (.750) against league competition. Biddle also leads all coaches with seven Patriot League titles. Associate Head Coach Dan Hunt is succeeding Biddle as the 29th head coach in school history.

FIRST-ROUND RECAP
No. 9/10 Fordham lit up the scoreboard in the first half and made big plays on defense in the second half to beat Sacred Heart 37-27 in a first-round contest of the NCAA FCS playoffs on Saturday at Jack Coffey Field. Fordham (12-1) used four total touchdowns from quarterback Mike Nebrich to take a 31-17 lead at halftime, and then hung on in the fourth quarter with a pair of field goals after Sacred Heart had closed within 31-27. Patriot League champion Lafayette (5-7) saw its season come to an end with a 45-7 loss at No. 15/15 New Hampshire.

MORE FROM FORDHAM'S WIN
Fordham won a playoff game for the first time since 2002, and became the first Patriot League team with at least 12 wins since Colgate in 2003. Fordham becomes just the fourth team in Patriot League history to reach 12 wins, which builds on a modern era school record for the Rams and is the top mark in the FCS. With the win, Patriot League teams have now recorded a victory in the postseason in three of the past four years. It was just the fifth home game for League squads, who now have a 4-1 record when hosting an FCS playoff game.

PATRIOT LEAGUE IN THE PLAYOFFS
Patriot League teams are a collective 10-20 in FCS playoff competition, with a 6-12 mark in the Round of 16. League squads were 5-11 in the round before the bracket expanded in 2010, and 1-1 since that time as Lehigh lost in 2010 and won in 2011.

CAA AGAIN
Playing a CAA opponent in the postseason is nothing new for the Patriot League. Nearly two-thirds of Patriot League postseason games have come against the CAA (formerly Atlantic 10), with League squads putting up a 5-14 record in the matchups. The latest was on Saturday in Lafayette's 45-7 loss at New Hampshire. Lehigh defeated Towson 40-38 in the second round in 2011, and Patriot League teams are 5-9 against CAA foes in the Round of 16.

ABOUT TOWSON
Towson (10-2) earned a playoff berth for the second time in the past three seasons, and is in search of its first postseason win at the FCS level. The Tigers earned a first-round bye with the No. 7 seed in the FCS playoffs after a regular-season resume that included wins over Connecticut and New Hampshire. Terrance West led the nation in rushing yards (1,875), rushing yards per game (156.2) and rushing touchdowns (30), and this week was named one of three finalists for the Walter Payton Award as the Most Outstanding Player in FCS.

STARS ALL AROUND FOR THE FORDHAM OFFENSE
The Fordham offense was up to its usual tricks on Saturday, with quarterback Michael Nebrich setting Patriot League postseason records for passing yards (413) and total offense (451) and the Rams setting a team mark for total offense (539). Nebrich, who was announced as the fifth-place finisher for the Walter Payton Award this week, has already set numerous school records this season and enters Saturday's game within range of Patriot League single-season marks in total offense, passing yardage, passing touchdowns, touchdowns responsible for and completion percentage. He has plenty of targets to work with, as Carlton Koonce has run for 1,436 yards and Sam Ajala (1,526), Tebucky Jones (1,139) and Brian Wetzel (1,002) are all over 1,000 yards receiving, with each player also at 80 receptions or more. Ajala has set Fordham's single-season receiving yards record, and is just 88 yards away from the Patriot League mark of 1,614 set by Lehigh's Ryan Spadola in 2011.

FORDHAM DOMINATES ALL-PATRIOT LEAGUE TEAM, MAJOR AWARDS
After one of the best seasons in Patriot League history, No. 9/10 Fordham dominated the postseason awards last week with three individual honors, 11 first-team selections and 18 overall spots on the All-League Team.Fordham junior quarterback Michael Nebrich was named Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year, while his classmate, linebacker Stephen Hodge, claimed the League's Defensive Player of the Year honor. Joe Moorhead completed the Rams' major award winners by earning the Patriot League Coach of the Year award, giving one school three of the top honors for the first time since 2005. Holy Cross freshman quarterback Peter Pujals took home the Patriot League Rookie of the Year award. Fordham's 18 All-Patriot League selections set a record, topping the 17 for Holy Cross in both 1990 and 1991. The 11 first-team honors are tied for the second-most all-time, trailing only the 12 for the Crusaders in 1987. Patriot League champion Lafayette followed with 11 All-Patriot League selections

NCAA FCS Playoffs - Second Round
No. 9/10 Fordham Rams (12-1) at No. 4/5 Towson Tigers (10-2, 6-2 CAA)
Johnny Unitas Stadium; Towson, Md. - Saturday, 1 p.m.
Coverage: ESPN3 | Live Stats | Audio | Fordham Game Notes
*Fordham continues its run in the FCS playoffs when it takes on Towson in a second-round game on Saturday at 1 p.m.
*The contest will be streamed live on ESPN3.
*The teams are playing for the first time since 2003, Towson's last year as a member of the Patriot League.
*Fordham leads the all-time series 4-3, with all seven games played during Towson's Patriot League era from 1997-03.
*Fordham won the last three meetings from 2001-03, with two of those games played at Towson.
*The teams shared a pair of common opponents this season in Villanova and Holy Cross.
*Fordham beat both of the common foes, while Towson topped Holy Cross but lost to Villanova.
*Each team beat a foe from the American Athletic Conference, with Fordham topping Temple and Towson over UConn.
*Fordham QB Michael Nebrich and Towson RB Terrance West were top-five finishers for the Walter Payton Award.
*The Rams are trying to make it to the FCS quarterfinals for the second time after previously going in 2002.
*Fordham is 2-2 all-time in the postseason following last weekend's win over Sacred Heart.
*The other matchups are against CAA opponents, with the Rams beating Northeasern in the first round in 2002.
*Fordham fell to Villanova in the quarterfinals in 2002, and lost to Massachusetts in the first round in 2007.
*Fordham is the third Patriot League team to play in the second round after the bracket expanded in 2010.
*Lehigh played in the second round in 2010 and 2011, winning at Towson 40-38 in the latter year to make the quarterfinals.
*Patriot League teams are 6-12 in the round of 16 in the FCS playoffs.
*Fordham aims to become the seventh League team to make it to the quarterfinals, and the second in the past 10 years.
*The Rams also aim to become just the second Patriot League team to win as many as 13 games overall (Colgate, 2003/15).
*Patriot League teams are 5-14 against CAA opponents in the postseason after Lafayette's loss at New Hampshire last week.
*That mark includes a 5-9 record in the round of 16 against the CAA.
*Towson, the No. 7 seed in the playoffs, aims to win its first postseason game at the FCS level.
*The winner of the Fordham-Towson game will play the winner of Tennessee State-Eastern Illinois in the FCS quarterfinals.

Fordham No. 9/10 Fordham earned its first FCS playoff win since 2002 with a 37-27 triumph over Sacred Heart on Saturday in the Bronx...The Rams became the third Patriot League team to win a playoff game in the last four years after Lehigh won in both 2010 and 2011...Fordham was the first Patriot League team playing at home since 2004, and played its first home game in the FCS playoffs..League squads are now 4-1 when playing at home in the FCS playoffs...Fordham trailed 7-3 in the first quarter before taking control with three straight touchdowns to grab a 24-7 lead early in the second quarter...The Rams added a touchdown late in the period for a 31-17 lead at the half...Sacred Heart got within 31-27 in the third quarter, but Fordham used a pair of interceptions to set up field goals in the fourth quarter and preserve the win...Michael Nebrich completed 32-of-51 passes for 413 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for 38 yards and a score...His passing yardage and total offense (451) both shattered Patriot League records for FCS playoff games...Nebrich also tied the League's playoff record with three passing touchdowns...He now has eight 300-yard passing games this year, one shy of the Patriot League record...Nebrich has set school records with 316 completions and 3,986 passing yards for the season, and extended his school touchdown pass record to 31...Fordham is on the verge of having a 4,000-yard passer, 1,000-yard rusher and three 1,000-yard receivers...Carlton Koonce is up to 1,436 yards on the ground, while Sam Ajala (1,526), Tebucky Jones (1,139) and Brian Wetzel (1,002) are all over 1,000 receiving yards...Ajala has surpassed the school single-season receiving yardage mark, and is just 88 yards away from the Patriot League record of 1,614 set by Lehigh's Ryan Spadola in 2011...Ajala's receiving yardage mark also leads the nation...Fordham also set a Patriot League postseason record with 539 yards of total offense against Sacred Heart, and is sixth in the country in total offense per game (522.2) and fourth in passing yardage per game (358.8)...Fordham stands second in the nation with 38 turnovers forced, and was +3 against a Sacred Heart team that led the nation in turnover margin...Fordham is just the fourth team in Patriot League history to reach 12 wins, and first since Colgate went 15-1 in 2003...The 12 victories build on a modern era school record for the Rams...Fordham is the only team in the nation that has reached the 12-win mark...Fordham earned the Patriot League's first at-large bid to the FCS playoffs since 2005, and fourth all-time...The Rams are the first Patriot League at-large participant to win an FCS playoff game...Nebrich won the Patriot League Offensive Player of the Year award, and stands in the top five nationally in six different statistical categories... He finished in fifth place in the Walter Payton Award voting as the Most Outstanding Player in FCS...Nebrich was one of three major award winners for Fordham, as junior linebacker Stephen Hodge was named Patriot League Defensive Player of the Year and Joe Moorhead claimed the Coach of the Year award...Fordham set a record with 18 All-Patriot League selections, and tied for the second-most in League history with 11 first-team honorees.