After winning the 2007 Patriot League championship, the Fordham football squad traveled to Massachusetts for the first round of the NCAA Division I Championship. Entering the game as the underdog, the Rams gave the seventh-ranked University of Massachusetts at Amherst Minutemen all they could handle, tying the game at 35 in the fourth quarter before falling, 49-35.
As Fordham left the field after the loss, the sense of sadness was quickly replaced by a sense of accomplishment and optimism. The sense of accomplishment came as the players and staff started to look back at the amazing season and how they managed to come close to knocking off the seventh-ranked team in the country.
The optimism also came from the fact that this is a young Fordham squad—the team will return eight of its eleven starters on each side of the ball.
The Rams finished the 2007 season with an 8-4 overall record, 5-1 in the Patriot League, wining their first Patriot League title since the 2002 season. The league coaches recognized Fordham’s accomplishments as head coach Tom Masella was named the Coach of the Year, freshman running back Xavier Martin was named Rookie of the Year and 11 other Rams received All-League honors.
Masella, who is also a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Award, which is given to the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) national coach of the year since 1987, turned around a program that won three games in 2006 to become the 2007 Patriot League champions.
Martin, who was also named Second Team All-Patriot League, became the third Ram to earn Rookie of the Year honors, joining placekicker Micah Clukey (2003) and current teammate and backfield partner, Jonte Coven (2004). On the year, he rushed for 635 yards on 127 carries with a team-high eight touchdowns.
Besides Martin, 11 other Rams earned All-Patriot League honors. Earning First Team accolades were senior running back Jonte Coven, senior linebacker Earl Hudnell and senior punter Ben Dato, while Martin, sophomore quarterback John Skelton, senior center Mike Breznicky, senior offensive lineman Mike Nardone, sophomore wide receiver Asa Lucas, junior defensive lineman Ryan Mehra, sophomore linebacker James Crockett, senior linebacker Dominique Owens and senior defensive back Sam Orah all were named to the second team.
Coven led the Rams with 968 rushing yards on 192 carries (5.0 yards/rush) with five touchdowns while also catching 12 passes for 75 yards.
Hudnell, a team captain, finished the season with 59 total tackles, 38 solo, including a Patriot League-best 15.5 tackles for loss.
Dato, an All-American punter last fall, led the Patriot League and is ranked second in the NCAA FCS, averaging 44.7 yards/punt. He punted 67 times for 2,992 yards with 26 of his 67 punts being down inside the opponent’s 20.
Skelton was the leader of the revitalized Fordham offense, completing 216 of 383 passes for 2,650 yards and 22 touchdowns on the year. His 22 touchdown passes is tied for the third most in Fordham history while his 216 completions is fourth best and his 2,650 passing yards is the fifth best single season total in school history.
Breznicky, a captain, is a three-year starter on the offensive line for the Rams, the past two at center, while Nardone, also a captain, is a two-year starter. They helped open the holes for the Rams to gain over 2,000 rushing yards while also protecting quarterback John Skelton, allowing just 24 sacks on 393 pass attempts.
Lucas was second on the team with 40 receptions for a team-high 680 yards (17.0 yards/receptions) with two touchdowns.
Mehra closed out the year with 30 total tackles, 21 solo, including 5.5 for a loss and 2.5 sacks.
Crockett registered 70 total tackles, third best on the team, including 43 solo. He also had 6.5 tackles for a loss and 2.5 sacks while intercepting three passes and breaking up six others. He earned NCAA FCS Defensive Player of the Week honors by the Sports Network, College Sporting News and SME Networks following the win against the College of Holy Cross in which he recovered a fumble in the end zone for a score and picked off a pass in the final seconds to secure the Fordham victory.
Owens, a captain, recorded 82 total tackles in 2007, 44 solo. Included in those 82 tackles were seven for a loss and one sack and he also had two pass deflections and one forced fumble.
Orah, also a captain, led the Fordham defensive backfield with nine pass deflections to go along with 46 total tackles, 32 solo. He also registered three tackles for a loss and has two interceptions and blocking a kick.
Season and individual ticket information is available by calling the Fordham Ticket Office at (718) 817-4300. A complete men’s and women’s schedule can be found online at www.fordhamsports.com.