It was no secret going into Saturday that Fordham boasted one of the scariest offenses in the FCS. Quarterback Tim DeMorat has put up more yards (4,561 yards) and touchdowns (53) than any other passer in the country for a group that averages 417.4 yards per contest. In spite of all those staggering numbers, however, it will be New Hampshire that’s moving on in the FCS playoffs thanks to a gutsy performance against the high-octane Rams in the opening round.
The Rams came out swinging on their first series but with their backs against the wall early, UNH’s defense forced a fumble to get off the field unharmed. Joe Eichman ripped the ball free from running back Trey Sneed to slam the door on the opening drive.
It only took the Wildcats two plays to take advantage. Quarterback Max Brosmer hit running back Dylan Laube who did the rest. Laube broke free and sprinted 87 yards down the sideline for an emphatic first touchdown.
The Wildcats came up big again and forced a punt on Fordham’s second drive. Brosmer continued to compliment his defense and found Sean Coyne for a seven-yard touchdown. For all the talk of the explosive Rams offense, it was the UNH one that put up 14 quickly in the opening quarter.
Fordham got right back in it when tight end Jeff Ciccio brought in a 16-yard pass from DeMorat in the end zone in single coverage.
For all they do well on offense, the Rams defense struggles with big plays and they continued to do so. Brosmer hit Heron Maurisseau who took it 65 yards for New Hampshire’s third touchdown of the opening frame. By the time the first quarter came to an end, it was Brosmer with the huge numbers. He had 223 yards and three touchdowns after just 15 minutes of play.
Laube kept the scoring train rolling early in the second with a nine-yard touchdown run in the second. UNH led 28-7 with 11:31 to go until halftime.
Desperation started to set in for Fordham who wasn’t used to playing from a deficit that big. DeMorat answered the call and led the Rams down for another score. He delivered the first big play for the Fordham offense with a 51-yard touchdown pass to Dequece Carter to make it a two-possession game again.
The Rams battled back to make it a 28-21 game by halftime. After stopping the Wildcats on fourth down, Fordham got its third touchdown when receiver MJ Wright broke free on a big 55-yard score. For as well as New Hampshire had played, they were by no means out of the woods as they went to break.
On the first play from scrimmage in the second half, though, Maurisseau broke loose again for a huge 71-yard touchdown run.
It wasn’t until later in the third period until Fordham would respond. After getting the ball at their own 10-yard line, DeMorat orchestrated a long drive to get into UNH territory. Running back Julius Loughridge ran for a 25-yard touchdown to draw the score to within seven.
As they did every time throughout the game, the two teams would go back-and-forth as teh fourth quarter began. The Wildcats answered right back when Laube got his third touchdown of the day with a 12-yard scoring run. Fordham, however, got the touchdown back with a TD run of their own from Fotis Kokosioulis.
Kicker Nick Mazzie made it a ten-point advantage with 10:50 to go with a 43-yard field goal.
The UNH defense finally was able to register a big stop on fourth down later in the quarter to stop the relentless Fordham offense. Laube made yet another big play shortly after with an 18-yard touchdown run to make it 52-35.
With time running out, DeMorat had one more touchdown drive in him but it wouldn’t be enough. Kokosioulis’ second rushing score made it a 10-point game again. The clock finally ran out, though, as UNH celebrated.
DeMorat and Brosmer combined for a whopping 681 passing yards and six touchdowns through the air. The difference was DeMorat’s two interceptions though. Both offenses put up over 550 yards with Fordham going for 577 and New Hampshire hitting 667. The teams combined for 43 first downs.
Brosmer and Laube were crucial in the Wildcats win. Laube ran for three scores and caught one more while Brosmer put up three passing scores.
New Hampshire will travel to Worcester next weekend to take on Holy Cross.