Football fall in close contest to Fordham

Cooper Mead

Senior Writer

The football team (4-5) suffered a heartbreaking 23-21 loss in one of the most highly contested and exciting Bison football games in recent years at Fordham’s (10-0) on Nov. 9. The contest was marked by a myriad of direction changes and competitive drives. Despite the Bison’s efforts to overcome a 10-point deficit, their potential game-winning field goal was blocked with under a minute left in the game.

Entering the game, the Bison hoped to extend their winning streak to four, while Fordham aimed to remain undefeated.

On the defensive front, the Bison played tough, as they held the Fordham offense to well below their average of 40 points per game. The effort was led by Evan Byers ’15 with 14 tackles (four for a loss), Clayton Ewell ’16 with nine stops, and Matthew Steinbeck’s ’15 11th career interception.

On offense, Brandon Wesley ’14 produced 225 yards on 20 of 40 passing with a touchdown. On the ground, CJ Williams ’17 had 15 carries for 63 yards. Bobby Kaslander ’16 caught five passes for 85 yards to lead the receiving core.

“We played very hard throughout this game. I felt that the matchup was a good one going in and the game was a good one for fans of college football. The emotion that goes into a game like this makes it difficult to get over,” head coach Joe Susan said.

In the first quarter, the Bison tied the score at 7-7 when Kaslander reeled in an impressive 26-yard catch that set up a two-yard Wesley run around the outside to find the end zone.

After a relatively unproductive half for both teams and a Fordham field goal, Fordham orchestrated a strike only five minutes into the second half. On 3rd and 8, Fordham came through with a 63-yard pass that found the end zone to make the score 17-7.

In the third quarter, unusual play calling by the Bison paid off. Wide receiver Josh Brake ’15 passed to Williams for a 23-yard touchdown on a screen play, bringing the Bison within three points. The Bison also attempted a flea flicker, but it was intercepted by the Fordham secondary.

The Bison had multiple chances to take the lead, including a productive offensive effort on the next drive after a forced turnover. Unfortunately, Williams fumbled to end the possession.

With just 2:29 left in the third quarter, Steinbeck intercepted a Fordham pass and gave the Bison the ball. After four plays, Wesley connected with Brake for a five-yard touchdown pass to give them a 21-17 lead. Fordham countered with two field goals to bring the score to 23-21 with just 8:09 left in the contest.

The last minute of the game was perhaps the most exciting football that the Bison have played all year. With a two-point lead, Fordham set up in the victory formation to take a knee, but the Bison defense had other plans. The defensive line made a push and forced a fumble that was recovered by the Bison on their own 35-yard line. The Bison took possession and Wesley went to work, as he made two crucial completions to bring the ball just past midfield. The Bison were aided by an important pass interference penalty called against Fordham that brought the ball to the Fordham 19-yard line. After a quick rush by Wesley to center the ball for the field goal try, Derek Maurer ’15 lined up for the lengthy 37-yard field goal. On the ensuing play, the Fordham offensive line was able to block the kick and seal the victory, handing the Bison a devastating loss after a hard fought battle.

The performance on both sides of the ball exhibits the resilience of the Bison squad and its ability to play with one of the most potent teams that it has faced all season.

“We came out ready to play knowing that we can put up points against any team we play. But, there is no solace in the score and there are definitely things we need to improve on as we get ready for Georgetown this week,” Brake said. 

The Bison will hope to rebound and continue their efficient play at their last home game tomorrow at 1 p.m. Prior to kickoff, they will honor their senior players.

“This team is led by its seniors. They are special to me and my staff, in that we have been privileged to coach them for four years. These men have worked very hard at being their best both on and off the field. I am happy for them and proud of them. I consider it a privilege to have been able to coach them. This emotion and sentiment echoes through my staff,” Susan said.

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