Originally published in The Fordham Ram on September 28, 2016.
After a bye week, Fordham Football extended its Homecoming winning streak to five in a row on Saturday after taking down the University of Pennsylvania Quakers 31-17. The Quakers were Fordham’s first FCS opponent.
The crowd of 7816 was more than double that of the game against Elizabeth City State at home two weeks ago, which senior quarterback Kevin Anderson gives some credit to. “Playing at home and getting that much support, there’s nothing really you can ask more,” he said. “Having a big win and playing in front of fans, it’s what all the hard work’s for.”
The Rams opened up the game right where they left off before their bye week, scoring on the first drive of the game. The Rams gained yards on every single play of the drive, culminating in an inspired play that sprung junior running back Chase Edmonds for a 22-yard receiving touchdown. Edmonds ran straight into the line like he was going to block, and then worked his way out to the left as all of the wide receivers went right, leaving him wide open for the score, making it 7-0 Fordham with around four minutes gone.
However, UPenn did not crumple after a quick shot to the mouth. They were aggressive on fourth down all day, something the Rams were prepared for but had trouble containing at times. The first time was on that drive when the Quakers busted out an option run on fourth and four around midfield for a first down, and then scored a few plays later to knot the score at 7-7 about halfway through the first quarter.
Edmonds would get his second of his four touchdowns of the day on the Rams next possession. After facing a fourth and two of their own and converting, Edmonds was able to make a few nice moves around Quaker defenders and find the end zone a few plays later. It gave the Rams a 14-7 lead, one they would not relinquish for the rest of the game.
The passing game was not cooperative early, especially in that drive, with two deep balls from Anderson falling incomplete despite being on target. But when the going gets tough, the Rams know they have one of the best running backs in college football to rely on.
“He’s a very talented young man, a guy that takes his talent and combines it with hard work,” said head coach Andrew Breiner about Edmonds. “You see that in the results that he produces. Having great players like Chase is always nice.”
On back to back Quaker drives, the Fordham defense continued its trend of creating turnovers and putting the offense in incredibly favorable field position. First senior linebacker George Dawson nabbed his third interception of the year and let the Rams’ offense get to work at the UPenn 11 after the return, which turned into three points off the leg of senior kicker Makay Redd. And then on the next drive, freshman linebacker Max Roberts would get in on the fun, strip sacking quarterback Alex Torgerson. Senior linebacker Brett Lambert jumped on the ball at the UPenn 23, which turned into Edmonds’s third touchdown of the day.
“I could be on the sideline tying my shoe, next thing you know George Dawson gets a pick and runs down to the 11-yard line,” said Anderson about the frequency of the Fordham defense forcing turnovers. “It’s exciting, it definitely makes the game more fun and we’re thankful. You get short fields, and it’s a huge momentum boost.”
Fordham actually forced a turnover on the next UPenn drive as well, but were unable to convert it into points. Roberts once again got to the quarterback and punched the ball out, with sophomore linebacker Noah Fitzgerald being the one to jump on it. However, Anderson tried to end the game in the first half with a morale crushing touchdown and ended up throwing an interception in the end zone instead, which the Quakers turned into a field goal and a 24-10 score, where it would remain to the halftime whistle.
Roberts was one of the standouts in a very complete game for the Rams in all facets. He recorded 10 tackles, including three sacks, along with the two forced fumbles, and was named Patriot League Rookie of the Week. While the freshman producing in a big spot may have surprised the crowd, it did not surprise the coaching staff.
“As a coaching staff we identified very early in preseason camp that Max is a special talent,” said Breiner. “Its our job as coaches to teach them a role that we can get young guys that are that talented on the field and help us produce on Saturdays.”
The second half started off with much stouter defense on both sides. After the teams traded a few punts for the first time in the game, the Quakers would cut the lead to one score, 24-17 with 4:50 left in the third quarter.
Both defenses would remain stalwart, trading possessions without points being scored again, including junior defensive back Caleb Ham foiling a UPenn trick play on fourth and 15. The Rams would eventually land the knockout punch with 5:31 left in the game by going to what they know best.
The game plan for Fordham was to show a lot of different looks early on to confuse the Quakers. “Once we had them see us in a lot of different formations, we were just going to attack with our bread and butter: our inside run stuff and our deep passes down the field.” said Anderson. And that is exactly what they did on that final scoring drive. Anderson jumpstarted it by completing his first long pass of the day, a 57-yarder to sophomore wideout Austin Longi. Two plays later, Edmonds collected his fourth touchdown by pounding the ball and made it 31-17, which would remain for the final score.
Edmonds ended with 152 yards on 24 carries for three touchdowns and another four receptions for 49 yards and a touchdown. That brings his career touchdown total to 53, making him the new record holder at Fordham for career touchdowns. Two more rushing touchdowns will give him that record, and 755 more rushing yards will mean the school career rushing record. Just a reminder, Edmonds is a junior.
Anderson finished the game 18 of 33 for 231 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
Fordham’s next game will be on the road at Monmouth University on Saturday, Oct 1 at 1 p.m.