Captures Patriot League Title
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, November 18- The Colgate Raiders (8-3, 6-0) ended the 2012 Patriot League season undefeated after edging the Fordham Rams (6-5), 41-39, in a high-scoring and tightly fought contest at Jack Coffey Field on the Bronx campus of Fordham University. The sky was sunny, the temperature was comfortable (50) and both offenses came ready to roll forward.
The Rams compiled a season high of 608 yards gained and gave up a seaso-high of 547 yards. The Raiders, looking to run the table in the Patriot League, scored the first touchdown of the game on a one-yard carry by Jordan McCord at 8:22 of the first quarter. The TD was the first of three that McCord scored during the afternoon. The running back carried the ball 141 yards, raising his season total to 1,627. The senior has rushed for more than 100 yards in all 11 games this year.
The Rams, not discouraged by the start, scored the next 16 points. Fordham’s All-America candidate Carlton Koonce scored the first of his three touchdowns of the game with a 26 yard carry less than two minutes after McCord’s.
Koonce’s run of seven yards with 5:21 left in the third broke the Fordham single season rushing mark of 1,477 set by Kirwin Watson in 2003. The 232 yards gained on the ground by Koonce raised his 2012 total to 1,596. When asked about the new record after the game, he stated, “It would have been twice as nice to get a w[in].”
Colgate took back the lead at 13:15 of the third quarter on a 62-yard touchdown pass from quarterback Gavin McCarney to Ryne Morrison. McCarney, the nation’s scoring leader, also scored a TD on the ground in the final period. During the contest, he ran for 178 yards and gained 212 on his 12 completed passes. Colgate never lost the advantage again although each squad scored 20 points in the last quarter.
Fordham’s senior quarterback Ryan Higgins completed 33 of 55 passes for 386 yards in his final college game. Although he was sacked three times and one pass was intercepted, he ended his collegiate career high in the Fordham ranking for single season and career marks.
A 19-yard touchdown toss from Higgins to his favorite receiver, sophomore Brian Wetzel, brought Fordham to within two points from tying the game with 43 seconds on the clock. The two-point post-touchdown attempt to tie the score failed as Blake Wayne was stopped on the three by the Raider defense.
Wetzel’s 187 yards gained made him the third Ram player to gain more than 1,000 yards in one season. In 2012, he gained 1,042 yards as a receiver, 713 yards returning kickoffs and 82 yards returning punts.
Fordham’s super kicker Patrick Murray, Patriot League Player of the Week for the past five weeks, scored 10 points, two field goals and four extra-points to raise his season total to 106, third for a single season in Fordham history.
Prior to the game, Fordham’s seniors were honored during the annual Senior Day salute. After the contest ended, first year coach Joe Moorhead, who led the team to its first winning season since 2007, paid tribute to his seniors, “They orchestrated one of the biggest, if not the biggest, turnarounds in college football this season.” The Rams lost 10 of its 11 games in 2011.
Coach Moorhead also explained how the three Fordham losses of three points or less will have a beneficial effect on next season, “It’s going to make us hungrier, a huge motivating factor for us to turn those defeats to victories. We’re going to start tomorrow.”