Patriot League Title: Not for Fordham despite home win finale

 

By Rich Mancuso/Sports Editor

They rang the Rams bell after their win at Jack Coffey Field at Rose Hill Saturday afternoon. This Fordham University football team won their home finale on senior day with a hard fought 24-20 win over Colgate and they were not aware until the final play that their win was a loss.

The Rams are now 6-3 on the season and 3-1 in the Patriot League. (The Fordham Ram Archives)

The Rams are now 6-3 on the season and 3-1 in the Patriot League. (The Fordham Ram Archives)

With Lehigh winning their game over Bucknell, the Rams were eliminated from winning the Patriot League title. Even if Fordham wins their remaining two games, the odds of getting an at-large bid to the FCS playoffs are small.  

Regardless of the outcome, this win and loss on the same day does take away the accomplishments of seniors from a recruiting class that played a significant role of bringing football prominence back to Rose Hill.  Their mission was first established under former coach Joe Moorhead, now a Penn State assistant on offense.

And it continued this year. Andrew Breiner learned the system under Moorhead in his first year. He said the loss to Lehigh last week made the task difficult.  There had to be things in favor of the Rams despite the Lehigh loss, i.e., three straight wins, for Fordham advance in their mission to earn the Patriot League title this season.

Said Coach Breiner: “Number one football goal for us is to always win the Patriot League. We fell short and [are] disappointed but [we] knew the odds were against us.”

The odds  became more difficult last week when his team allowed Lehigh to score 58 points. The Rams did not show up to play, as it appeared, and the task ahead was to defeat Colgate who beat them in season finale before heading to the Division 1 FCS playoffs.

So as the Rams prepare for their annual Ram/Crusader Cup game next Saturday against Holy Cross at Yankee Stadium, there is still a mission. They know that winning their two remaining games does not guarantee they will be a part of the FCS playoff picture.

“To come out and play the game we played today shows the character,” said Breiner and he referred to his team not knowing the Lehigh outcome that put an end to any hopes of a Patriot League title.

His team played as hard as they could, more so in the second half and Breiner said, “They played as hard as you can for sixty minutes.”

Kevin Anderson threw for three touchdown passes and the game winner to Robbie Cantelli with 4:55 remaining showed that character. Cantelli, one of those seniors, caught the 20-yard pass in back of the end zone, one of his two touchdowns that completed the 10-point comeback and tenth straight win at home.

Yes, it was fulfillment for Cantelli who was a walk-on and fought his way back after tearing his ACL in the Colgate game last year.  But in his mind, and for the coach and his teammates, coming up short for a Patriot League title was not in the plan.

“They ended our chance for a Patriot League title last year,” said Cantelli. “This was a game we needed to win. Whether we had a chance to win the title or not, I’m going to be out there and give everything I have.”

He said Anderson made a great pass for the game winner. And despite struggling against a Colgate team that came in with the fourth best defense in Division 1, Fordham showed their character without knowing that next week would be a significant game — but not for the Patriot League title.

Perhaps the past few weeks a defense that failed was their culprit. Or it was the ineffectiveness of Chase Edmonds, the school career rushing leader who failed to score a touchdown for the fourth straight game and made an early fourth quarter fumble that did no harm.

Because Anderson and Cantelli provided the late game drama, the loss to Lehigh last week was reason to feel defeated.   Fordham got a win and another one at home, however the highlight for this football team is next Saturday afternoon at Yankee Stadium.

Comment Rich Mancuso:  Ring786@aol.com  Twitter@Ring786  Facebook.com/Rich Mancuso