Saturday November 30, 2002 Brookline, MA (Nov. 30, 2002) – Senior kicker Matt Fordyce’s outstanding season was recognized by the Patriot League coaches recently as he was named First Team All-Patriot League as a punter and placekicker, the first person to do so in Patriot League history. On Saturday, Fordyce displayed his skills on the national level as he kicked an NCAA Division I-AA playoff record five field goals to lead Fordham University to a 29-24 win over Northeastern University in a first round game of the NCAA Division I-AA playoffs on Parsons Field. Kevin Eakin completed 20 of 37 passes for 269 yards and a touchdown and Kirwin Watson rushed 21 times for 101 yards and a score to help lead Fordham, who advances to play Villanova University in the quarterfinal round next Saturday, December 7th at Villanova.
Fordyce’s five field goals breaks the old NCAA I-AA playoff mark of four set by three different players, most recently by Shonz LaFrenz of McNeese State in 1998. The five field goals is also a Fordham school record and a Patriot League record. The former Fordham record was four set by Mark Ruoff in 1996 against Georgetown while the former Patriot League record was also four held by five different players, including Ruoff. The five three-pointers also shattered the Patriot League playoff record of two set by Lehigh’s Jaron Taaffe in 1999 and matched by Brian Kelley of Lehigh in 2001. The Rams got on the board early, taking the opening kickoff and driving to their own 48 where on second down and ten, Eakin hit Peter Modelski with a screen pass which Modelski turned into a 58-yard touchdown pass to put the Rams up 7-0 2:03 into the contest.
The Fordham defense held the Huskies to three plays on their possession and the Rams took over on the Northeastern 45 following a 13-yard punt return from Dam McGrath. Three straight completions by Eakin moved the ball to the Northeastern 13. Watson gained four yards on the first down play but Eakin was then sacked back to the Huskies 18. After an incompletion, Fordyce came on to boot a 35-yard field goal to give Fordham a 10-0 lead with 7:52 left in the first. The 10-0 lead would hold until early in the second quarter when the Huskies drove from their own 17 to the Fordham 43 where they faced a fourth and one. The Fordham defense packed the box in an attempt to stop the conversion but Northeastern’s Tim Gale burst through the line and went the 43 yards for a touchdown to cut the Rams’ lead to three 10-7, with 12:37 remaining in the half. The Rams came right back, taking the ensuing kickoff and moving from their own 31 to the Northeastern 28 where the drive stalled.
The big play was an Eakin lateral to Steve Porco who then connected with Erik Conroy on a 32-yard pass to put the ball on the Northeastern 32. Fordyce capped the drive with a 45-yard filed goal, a Patriot League playoff record, and a 13-7 Fordham lead. With 4:46 left in the half, the Rams took over on their own 45 following a punt. Fordham then moved the ball downfield with Watson and Alemayo Whyte picking up big gains on the ground. The drive would stall at the Northeastern five where Fordyce would kick a 23-yard field goal with 14 seconds remaining to give Fordham a 16-7 halftime lead. Northeastern took the second half kickoff and marched 50 yards on 13 plays to the Fordham 17 where Miro Kesic connected on a 34-yard field goal to cut Fordham’s lead to 16-10 with 8:53 left in the third. A holding call on the ensuing kickoff forced the Rams to start their next drive on their own 15. But on the first play from scrimmage, Eakin found Conroy down the right side with a 73-yard pass, placing the ball on the Huskies 12. Three plays later, Fordyce came on and kicked a 25-yard field goal for a 19-10 Fordham lead with 7:13 remaining in the third. Bismark Osei returned the ensuing kickoff 62 yards to the Fordham 33 but a personal foul on Northeastern brought the ball back to the 46. The Rams appeared to have held the Huskies as the Huskies were facing a third and 23.
But the Rams were called for pass interference, giving Northeastern a first down on the Fordham 31. On the next play Shawn Brady’s pass to Cory Parks in the end zone was tipped by Will Davis but Parks kept his eye on the ball and hauled it in to cut Fordham’s lead to two, 19-17, with 6:20 left in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter Fordham took possession of the ball on their own 31 following a punt and marched 69 yards on seven plays. The big play of the drive was a fourth and two call from the Northeastern 32. Eakin faked a handoff to Watson going to the right and rolled out to his left, running for the two yards and the first down. On the next play Watson covered the final 30 yards to put the Rams up 26-17 with 8:52 remaining.
The Fordham defense then got into the act as the Huskies drove to the Fordham 32. But on second down and seven, Aymen Aboushi intercepted a Brady pass on the Fordham 37. The Fordham offense could not move the ball so on fourth down Fordyce punted to Anthony Riley who fumbled the ball on the Northeastern 24 with Fordham’s Gerome Robinson recovering the ball for the Rams. Four plays later, Fordyce connected on his record fifth field goal, a 42-yarder, to give the Rams a 29-17 lead with 2:50 left in the game.
Northeastern managed to drive 70 yards on 12 plays on their next possession with Gale scoring from a yard out with 52 seconds left to make it a 29-24 game but the Rams recovered the ensuing onside kick and ran out the clock for their first playoff win in their first playoff appearance. Porco finished the day with six catches for 68 yards while Javarus Dudley had six receptions for 36 yards and Conroy three for 112 yards. NaQuinton Gainous led the Fordham defense with 11 total tackles, six solo, including a sack while Robinson had nine tackles, five solo, including one for a loss and he also had two pass deflections and Aboushi made seven stops.