Fordham beats Rhode Island with big plays
By David Coulson, FCS Executive Director
Bronx, NY (Sports Network) - Fordham had to wait an extra day before opening its season on a sun-struck, Sunday afternoon in the Bronx. But the delay from Tropical Storm Hanna was worth the patience when the Rams blanked Rhode Island, 16-0.
Patience was indeed a virtue for Fordham, which moved the ball freely between the 20s and closed down the new Rhode Island spread attack, but struggled to blow the game open in the red zone.
Adam Danko ended Fordham's first drive with a 33-yard field goal and quarterback John Skelton tossed an 87-yard touchdown pass to Jason Caldwell in the second period and a 50-yard scoring strike to Asa Lucas in the fourth quarter to provide the Rams all of the scoring they needed.
The game was originally scheduled for 7 p.m. on Saturday night, but heavy rains forced officials to postpone the contest an hour before the start. Some 4,365 fans returned for the first Sunday game in Fordham history.
"I wanted to play last night, because everyone was fired up and ready to go," said Skelton, who completed 14-of-26 passes for 267 yards and the two scores. "As for wanting to play in a monsoon, no, I didn't want to play in that."
Fordham dominated in almost every category, out-gaining URI 498-167 and piling up a 21-12 advantage in first downs.
Rhode Island quarterback Derek Cassidy, learning the nuances of the spread offense after three previous years in the Georgia Southern option, was 25- of-41 for 200 yards, but he was harassed throughout the game and sacked seven times by the tenacious Fordham defense.
Ryan Mehra, Nicholas Mageira and Greg DeMarco all had two sacks, while Ryan Darcey picked up one.
"I think we're better on defense," said Fordham coach Tom Masella, who led his squad to a Patriot League championship and an FCS playoff berth last season. "I think we had some first game jitters, but I'm pleased with our effort."
Rhode Island used the punting of freshman Tim Edger (10 punts for a 42.8 average and five inside the 20-yard line) to gain a field-position advantage through much of the game, but URI wasted drives that started at the Fordham 41, 37 and 38.
The closest Rhode Island came to scoring was when freshman kicker Louis Feinstein hit the left upright on a 36-yard field goal with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter. Feinstein also missed from 57 yards at the end of the first half.
URI still had hopes of pulling the game out when it drove to the Fordham four with a first down with 1:28 remaining, but two Cassidy passes were incomplete in the end zone, he was sacked for a six-yard loss and he misfired on one more pass in the end zone on fourth down with 48 seconds left.
"We just lacked execution, that's what it came down to," said first-year Rhode Island coach Darren Rizzi. "We were 3-of-17 on third down conversions. We had some opportunities on the offensive side of the ball."
Rhode Island also missed All-American senior fullback Joe Casey, who suffered a compound fracture of his leg and was lost for the season six minutes into URI's opening game last week.
"Joe's not only a very good player, he's a leader, so it hurts us in more ways than one," said Rizzi.
With this URI loss coming on the heels of a solid 27-24 victory over Monmouth, Rizzi said he wasn't discouraged.
"I feel better about our program than I did when I took the job. We're in a foundation-building stage," Rizzi said.
09/07 21:02:14 ET