It was worth the wait. Due to paperwork issues with the NCAA Clearinghouse, Fordham University freshman running backXavier Martin was forced to sit out the Rams’ first two games of the season. But after being cleared to play earlier in the week, Martin made up for lost time, rushing 25 times for 157 yards and three touchdowns to lead Fordham to a 27-10 Liberty Cup win over Columbia University on Jack Coffey Field on Sept. 15.
With the win, the Rams reclaimed the Liberty Cup, which had been housed at Columbia the past two years.
Martin was impressive in his debut, bouncing off tackles and picking up extra yardage after being hit. He was joined in the 100-yard club by senior Jonte Coven, who gained a career-high 139 yards on 28 carries, his second 100-yard game of the year.
The 157 yards gained by Martin were the second most for a Fordham freshman in the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) level. The game also marked the first time a pair of Fordham running backs gained more than 100 yards in a game since the Rams made the move to the NCAA FCS.
“I was upset that I couldn’t play the first two games because I’ve never missed a game before,” said Martin, who was selected Patriot League Rookie of the Week for his performance. “But I’m happy to be playing now.”
Not to be outdone, the Fordham defense also had a say in the win, holding the Lions to 59 rushing yards and intercepting two passes.
The Rams got on the board first, taking over on their own 39 following a punt. After driving down the field, Martin took the ball around the left side and into the end zone from the 14 for a 7-0 Fordham lead with 3:08 remaining in the quarter.
Martin would score again in the second quarter on a 51-yard touchdown romp to give Fordham a 14-0 lead with 5:53 left in the half.
Martin would score his third touchdown in the third quarter on a four-year plunge that put the Rams up 24-3.
Late in the fourth quarter, the Lions managed a nine-play, 94-yard drive, capped by a seven-yard touchdown pass from Hormann to Knowlin with 1:37 remaining to make the final score 27-10.