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Grit on the Gridiron at Homecoming


Nearly 7,000 fans watched Fordham crush Rhode Island 54-7 at the Sept. 13 Homecoming game on a soggy Jack Coffey Field, as running back Chase Edmonds set a freshman school record and was named the Patriot League’s Rookie of the Week.

Among the fans cheering Edmonds and the Rams on were some old-time and recently graduated Rams—who waxed nostalgic about cold games, tough games, historic games, and plain ol’ grit.

Standing on the field during a special halftime recognition ceremony, Andy Lukac, FCRH ’51, said that although they rarely get much play in the press, his 1950 Division 1 team was one of the finest Fordham ever had. The team had an 8-1 record.

“In all the newspaper write-ups, they mention the Blocks of Granite and last year’s squad, which is great, but they never mention 1950. And I happened to be a captain of that team.”

Lukac said that none other than Vince Lombardi recruited many of his teammates before leaving Fordham to coach for West Point. He said the following game against Army was known as “the most infamous game because of all the penalties.”

“When Lombardi went to Army, he knew our weaknesses,” said Lukac.

Lukac was introduced to former Ram star quarterback John Skelton, FCRH ’10, another former Ram honored at the halftime ceremony. Skelton, a record-setting quarterback while at Fordham, was recruited to play with the Arizona Cardinals.

“I sure hope I’m still puttin’ around here like he is when I’m his age,” said Skelton.

The legacy of that 1950 season got diluted, unfortunately, after Fordham’s football program ran into the red and disappeared from campus for 10 years.

But three Rams—David Langdon, FCRH ’65, Don Ross, FCRH ’65, and Bill Burke, FCRH ’65, LAW ’68—took a thousand dollars out of their bank accounts to buy uniforms and equipment, transforming the former rugby team into a football team. Langdon was on hand for Saturday’s halftime ceremony.

Langdon said that the nascent team then went to NYU athletic director Vic Obeck and he promised them a game. With the NYU’s name printed on the tickets, he said he knew the fans would come.

“We even had to rent our own stands,” Langdon recalled. “They were used for Lyndon Johnson’s inauguration. They were brought up from Alabama and the students had to assemble them.”

Tom Johnson, FCRH ’61, recalled he was one such fan of the newly minted Rams football team. Sheltered from Saturday’s rain under the Homecoming tent, Johnson said he’s been buying season tickets since they first made them available. He has held on to “several with the holes punched out” and has seen the Rams football through the good, the bad, and even the “ugly” seasons.

“There were many years where . . . you used to pray for rain so you could leave the stands early,” he recalled. But things have been looking up.

As he spoke, the skies let loose and the DJ blasted John Fogerty’s “Have You Ever Seen the Rain.”

And despite the fact that the Fordham Rams’ playing was anything but ugly, hundreds of fans emptied the stands before the final plays of the game.

Except, of course, senior Ian Williams’ mother. Cheryl Williams flew up from West Palm Beach, Florida, to cheer her son on and she wasn’t about to let a little rain deter her.

“Go Ian! Go Fordham!” she cheered from beneath a red umbrella.

For a full recap of Saturday’s game, visit Fordham’s Athletics.

Check out how #fordhamhomecoming played out on social media:

More photos are at the Fordham Alumni Flickr.


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