Over the past five years, Fordham has been nearly invincible at Coffey Field. In their past 27 home games at the 7,000-seat stadium nestled in the Bronx, the Rams emerged victorious 25 times. Heading into Saturday’s matchup against Yale, the Patriot League foe last tasted defeat at home two years ago, in a 14–7 loss to No. 2 Villanova.
The Yale football team (3–0, 1–0 Ivy) put an end to Fordham’s (1–4, 0–0) streak of success with a resounding 41–10 victory. Quarterback Kurt Rawlings ’20 dazzled all evening, completing 18 of his 20 passes, and the combination of running backs Deshawn Salter ’18 and Zane Dudek ’21 accounted for five total touchdowns. Defensively, the Bulldogs held the Rams to 300 total yards and one of the best players in the Football Championship Subdivision — running back Chase Edmonds — to just 83 yards. The Bulldogs jumped out to a 21–0 lead in the first quarter and then never looked back, marking their second victory against a Patriot League opponent that they lost to last season.
“I feel like we were clicking on all cylinders,” captain and defensive back Spencer Rymiszewski ’17 said. “When the offense is playing like they are I think the energy just flows throughout the entire team.”
For the third consecutive game, Team 145’s offense moved the ball at will against its opponent. After crawling out of the gates against Cornell last week, Yale got off to a ferocious start, scoring touchdowns on its first four possessions of the evening.
Head coach Tony Reno seemed intent on getting the ball out in space to his playmakers from the outset. Against a porous Rams defense that had allowed 49 points per contest coming into Saturday, the Elis attacked all levels of the defense with a wide array of personnel groupings.
“Our offense is really built upon three reads for Kurt,” Reno said. “It’s either [he] hands it off, [he] keeps it or [he] throws it to the perimeter. They were giving us a lot of perimeter passes, so he took advantage of what he saw. He did a really nice job with his reads.”
The first play for the Bulldog offense, a 10-yard gain on a swing pass to wide receiver Chris Williams-Lopez ’18, was called back for offensive holding. Yet it showed precisely how Yale wanted to attack Fordham. Even with the infraction, the visitors ultimately found the end zone just four plays later on a 38-yard scamper by Salter.
The rest of the first half went similarly for Team 145 as a blend of wide receiver screens, swing passes and even some jet sweeps propelled the Elis to a 28–3 advantage at the break. The Bulldogs’ domination on the flanks also opened up the middle of the field, allowing the offense to gain significant yardage between the tackles.
Rawlings went 14–14 in the first half before his first incompletion of the game, an interception by a diving Fordham defensive back at the 3:32 mark of the second quarter. While Rawlings’ accuracy was a huge boon for the offense, the Bulldogs’ running game — which came into the day as the fourth best in the FCS — continued to impose its will. Salter tallied three touchdowns for the second consecutive game, along with 118 yards on 8 carries, and freshman standout Dudek added another two scores.
Even with right tackle Jon Bezney ’18 injured and Jett Sexton ’20 filling in, the Eli running game was able to gain 227 yards overall. With a comfortable 38-point cushion and the outcome decided by the end of the third quarter, Reno opted to give his starters a rest.
The Rams, who owned a 10-game winning streak against Ivy League opponents coming into the game, were finally able to find the end zone in garbage time on a 20-yard run by Zach Davis to bring the final score to 41–10. The Bulldogs kept in check an offense that had scored 40 points and tallied 533 yards the previous week. Despite leading in time of possession, Fordham tallied only 300 yards.
Edmonds, who averaged 11.7 yards per carry versus Yale in 2016, suited up for the Rams after missing the previous two games due to injury. But the Bulldogs’ defensive front stymied Edmonds all night, especially on inside run plays, limiting the 5-foot-9 tailback to just 83 yards on 16 carries. Most of that production came on a 29-yard run in the second quarter.
All-Patriot League quarterback Kevin Anderson struggled to develop any rhythm for Fordham, completing just 13 of his 28 passes for 140 yards and zero touchdowns. The Bulldogs’ secondary did a sound job of taking away downfield options and forcing Anderson to squeeze the ball into tight windows, which is one reason why the Rams were 5-of-16 on third down conversions.
The Bulldogs’ defensive front, which came into the contest with 11 sacks, generated a consistent pass rush on the pro-style quarterback and produced eight tackles for loss. The Elis sacked Anderson three times on the night and also forced Fordham’s struggling offense to attempt fourth down conversions on several occasions.
“The defense is awesome, they’ve been playing great all year,” Rawlings said. “Our main focus was just trying to help them out by coming out a little faster. It’s hard going against them in practice every week because they’re a very talented bunch.”
Yale’s third game of the season also marked an improvement on the penalty front. Coming into the game as the most penalized team in the FCS, the Bulldogs committed just three infractions for 30 yards in the Bronx.
Yale will head north for its next game, taking on a Dartmouth squad that is coming off a thrilling 16–13 victory over defending Ivy champion Penn.
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