It was no secret that Fordham had one of the scariest offenses in FCS on Saturday. Quarterback Tim DeMorat has rushed for more yards (4,561) and touchdowns (53) than any other passer in the country for a group averaging 417.4 yards per contest. Despite all those staggering numbers, it will be New Hampshire that advances in the FCS playoffs thanks to a brave display against the high-octane Rams in the opening round.
The Rams came out of their first series, but with their backs to the wall early, the UNH defense forced a fumble to get off the field unscathed. Joe Eichman ripped the ball free from running back Trey Sneed to slam the opening drive door.
It only took the Wildcats two games to capitalize on this. Quarterback Max Brosmer met running back Dylan Laube, who did the rest. Laube broke free and sprinted 87 yards down the touchline for an emphatic first touchdown.
The Wildcats made it big again, forcing a punt on Fordham’s second drive. Brosmer continued to compliment his defense, finding Sean Coyne for a 7-yard touchdown. For all the talk of the explosive Rams offense, it was the UNH offense that put up a quick 14 in the first quarter.
Fordham immediately came back into play when tight end Jeff Ciccio brought in a 16-yard pass from DeMorat in the end zone in a single cover.
Despite what they do well on offense, the Rams’ defense struggles with big plays and they continued to do so. Brosmer met Heron Maurisseau, who took it 65 yards for New Hampshire’s third touchdown of the opening frame. As the first quarter drew to a close, it was Brosmer with the big numbers. He had 223 yards and three touchdowns in just 15 minutes of play.
Laube kept the scoring train going early in the second with a 9-yard touchdown run in the second. UNH led 28-7 with 11:31 at halftime.
Desperation set in for Fordham, who wasn’t used to playing from so far behind. DeMorat answered the call and led the Rams down for another score. He delivered the first big play on the Fordham offense with a 51-yard touchdown pass to Dequece Carter to make it a two-possession game again.
The Rams fought back to make it a 28-21 game by halftime. After stopping the Wildcats on the fourth down, Fordham got his third touchdown when receiver MJ Wright broke free with a big 55-yard score. Because as well as New Hampshire had played, they were far from over the mountain when they went into the break.
However, on the first play from scrimmage in the second half, Maurisseau broke again for a huge 71-yard touchdown run.
Only later in the third period would Fordham respond. After getting the ball at his own 10, DeMorat orchestrated a long drive to get into UNH territory. Running back Julius Loughridge ran for a 25-yard touchdown to take the score to seven.
As every time during the game, the two teams went back and forth at the beginning of the fourth quarter. The Wildcats responded immediately when Laube scored his third touchdown of the day with a 12-yard scoring run. However, Fordham reclaimed the touchdown with a TD run of his own from Fotis Kokosioulis.
Kicker Nick Mazzie put a ten-point lead to 10:50 with a 43-yard field goal.
The UNH defense was eventually able to post a big stop in fourth place later in the quarter to halt the relentless Fordham offensive. Laube made another big play soon after with an 18-yard touchdown run to make it 52-35.
As time was running out, DeMorat still had another touchdown drive in him, but that wasn’t going to be enough. Kokosiouli’s second rushing result made it a 10-point game again. However, the clock finally ran out as UNH celebrated.
DeMorat and Brosmer combined for a whopping 681 passing yards and six touchdowns through the air. The difference, however, was DeMorat’s two interceptions. Both offenses rushed for over 550 yards, with Fordham 577 yards and New Hampshire 667 yards. The teams collectively scored 43 first downs.
Brosmer and Laube were critical to the Wildcats’ victory. Laube ran for three points and caught another while Brosmer had three pass points.
New Hampshire will travel to Worcester next weekend to take on Holy Cross.