Photos by Gary Quintal
By Howard Goldin
BRONX, NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 11- Before the final game of the regular season played at Jack Coffey Field in the Bronx, the college tradition of honoring the home team’s seniors was held. Two of the 17 seniors, Carlton Koonce and Ian Williams, played major roles in the nail biting victory of the 6/7 nationally ranked Fordham Rams (10-0) over the Bucknell Bison (4-5). The win kept Fordham’s undefeated season record intact.
For both team’s turnovers were crucial to the outcome. Four Fordham fumbles were forced and recovered and one pass intercepted by Bucknell defenders. The leading rusher of the Rams, Carlton Koonce, who led Fordham with 84 yards on the ground, put the turnovers in perspective, “It’s unrealistic to think every play is going to be perfect.”
After the game concluded, Fordham coach Joe Moorhead gave credit to his usually less heralded players, “The defense and special teams went lights out.” The coach had good reason for his words of praise.
Four Bucknell drives were halted by the effective play of the Fordham defense, three by pass interceptions and one by a recovered fumble. Two of the passes were picked off by Jordan Chapman and one by Ian Williams. Each of the two cornerbacks also had six tackles and combined on final play of the game, which saved the Fordham victory.
Fordham was ahead, 23-21, with 48 seconds remaining on the clock as Bucknell began its final drive which started after a fumble by Rams quarterback Peter Maetzold was recovered on the Fordham 33. The Bison moved the ball to the Fordham 20. With two seconds left in the game, Bucknell’s David Maurer entered the game to attempt to kick a 37-yard field goal, which if successful would have given Bucknell a 24-23 upset win. Chapman and Williams rose up to block the field goal attempt.
In a post-game press conference, Moorhead explained his team’s effort on that play and throughout the game, “We play every play as if it’s the last play of the game. We just absolutely dug in our heels.”
On the other hand, Fordham’s special team’s place kicker Michael Marando, this season’s leading scorer on the team added 11 points to raise his season total to 93, first place in Patriot League scoring. Although he did not see action last year, the junior has been instrumental in Fordham’s undefeated season in 2013. He was successful in all three field goal and both extra point attempts on Saturday. Marando’s two field goals were the only points scored in the final quarter.
A huge part of the day’s story was that of Fordham’s quarterbacks, Michael Nebrich and Peter Maetzold. Nebrich, a five time Patriot League Offensive Player of the Week this year, left the contest after he suffered a knee injury late in the first quarter.
He was replaced by Maetzold, who only threw two passes this year. Although, he, like Nebrich, only saw action in three games in 2012, he played in seven games as a freshman in 2011. The junior explained his feelings, “I know what it’s like to play in the Patriot League against big teams. After a couple of plays under your belt, it’s just playing football again.” Maetzold did what was hoped by completing 21 of 35 passes for 318 yards.
Moorhead, an outstanding former Fordham quarterback assessed both men very positively. Of Nebrich, he commented, “If you evaluate his body of work, he’s on the Walter Payton Watch List [best player in the FCS] for a reason.” He remarked of Maetzold, “We have the utmost confidence in him. He’s a tremendous player, very smart, cerebral.”
Fordham goes on the road for its final two contests, November 16 at Latfayette and November 23 Colgate. If successful in those games, it is likely that Fordham will host a FCS playoff contest at Jack Coffey Field.