Football starts the season strong — routs St. Francis University

Fordham: 52
St. Francis University: 23

Fordham’s football team fired on all cylinders Saturday night in a 52-23 rout over the St. Francis Red Flash. The Rams, ranked #13 in Athlon Sports’ preseason poll, dominated St. Francis on both sides of the ball and carried a 38-3 lead into the fourth quarter.

In the early stages, Fordham’s defense outperformed its offense, and the Rams’ first three drives netted just three points. By contrast, the Red Flash offense was stymied and managed only one first down in the opening quarter. Fordham scored its first touchdown late in the first quarter when Michael Nebrich scrambled and passed to senior tight end Dan Light in the end zone. Before that play, freshman Chase Edmonds bolstered the offense with 39 rushing yards on five straight carries.

Fordham continued to overwelm the Red Flash in the second quarter, and the Rams scored two more touchdowns en route to a 24-3 halftime lead. The first scoring drive was highlighted by a 44-yard run from Edmonds, and finished when Nebrich found Robbie Cantelli for a 23 yard score. Several minutes later, Brian Wetzel nearly scored on a 53 yard punt return, and the offense wasted no time in finding the end zone again on a Kendall Pearcy run. St. Francis finally managed a field goal after Khairi Dickson scampered for a 37-yard run, but they never threatened the Rams.

The Rams made it 38-3 with two more third quarter scores, and the running back tandem of Edmonds and Pearcy could not be stopped. After St. Francis gave Fordham excellent field position on a failed punt attempt, Edmonds scored his first collegiate touchdown with a four yard run. Then defensive lineman Marlon Crook forced a Red Flash fumble, and Pearcy made St. Francis pay with a 12 yard rushing score.

St. Francis made the scoreline more respectable with two Khairi Dickson touchdown runs and another late score, but Fordham’s offense continued to excel. After an electric 44 yard kickoff return from Edmonds, Nebrich connected with Brian Wetzel for a 35 yard touchdown. Edmonds scored his second touchdown on the next drive with a five yard rush, and set a school freshman record with 181 yards on 19 carries.

The biggest takeaway from this game is that Fordham’s rushing attack might even be better than last year, when Carlton Koonce ran for over 100 yards per game. Edmonds looks like a workhorse, and Fordham has a solid short-yardage back in Pearcy. If Edmonds continues to run like he did last night, the Rams will be in great shape for the next four years.

Next for the Rams is a marquee matchup in Philadelphia against the #9 Villanova Wildcats. Villanova nearly defeated Syracuse of the  FBS last weekend before falling 27-26 in two overtimes, so they will be a tough opponent. Last year, the Rams edged Villanova 27-24 in a game that lifted Fordham’s national profile so the Wildcats will be seeking revenge.  Kick-off will be at 3:30 p.m.