Rams Celebrate Homecoming with 34-27 Win Over Cornell

by Alex Smith
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Fordham Sports

Koonce, Wetzel Come up Big Against Big Red

The Rams came out slow in their third game of the season against the Cornell Big Red, but the offense came out strong in the second half to send the Cornell Big Red back to Ithaca with a loss. Despite scoring only 6 points at halftime, The Rams put 34 points on the board, and held the potent Big Red offense to just 27.

The first half featured solid defense from both sides. 2 time FCS Placekicker of the Week Patrick Murray hit 2 field goals to put the Rams up 6-0. In the first half, The Rams did an outstanding job of limiting Big Red junior quarterback Jeff Mathews, but the reigning Bushnell Cup winner (Offensive Player of the Year in the Ivy League) was able to lead the Big Red to a TD just before the half, as he found Wide Receiver Jesse Heon from 13 yards out, giving Cornell the 7-6 lead at intermission. There was also more bad news for Fordham, as sophomore Quarterback Michael Nebrich left the game with an apparent right leg injury. Nebrich did not return in the game, but could be seen on the sideline on crutches with his right knee wrapped. No word as of yet on the severity of his injury.

The Rams got the ball to start the second half, but Rams QB Ryan Higgins threw an interception on the first offensive play. The Big Red capitalized on their field position, as Mathews led a drive all the way down to the 1 yard line, thanks to a couple of big completions to sophomore Grant Gellatly. Matthews then finished off the drive by sneaking the ball into the end zone, putting the Big Red up 14-6.

From that point on, the Rams offense really started clicking. Fordham would score 21 points in a row on a 15 yard touchdown run from senior runningback Carlton Koonce, followed by 2 TD passes from Higgins: a 35 yard strike to sophomore Sam Ajala and a 23 catch and run from Brian Wetzel. The Rams would tack on another seven points on a ten yard run from Koonce, and they were able to hold off a late push from Cornell to hold on for the win. Cornell QB Jeff Mathews threw a TD pass as time expired, which made the score appear closer than it felt.

Carlton Koonce set a new career high with 176 rushing yards on 31 carries and 2 TDs. Brian Wetzel also set a career high with 153 receiving yards on only 8 catches. The Rams improve to 2-1 on the season, marking the first time the Rams have held a winning regular season record since they were 2-1 through 3 games of the 2010 season. Next up for the Rams, a short trip across town to take on the Columbia Lions in the Battle for the Liberty Cup.

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