Fordham rolls past Sacred Heart in playoff opener

It was déjà vu in the Bronx as Fordham defeated Sacred Heart in the first round of the playoffs for the second straight year.

Senior quarterback Mike Nebrich threw for 423 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Rams to a 42-22 victory over the Pioneers last Saturday afternoon at Jack Coffey Field to the start the FCS post season. Fordham visits top-seeded New Hampshire on Dec. 6 at 1 p.m. in the second round. Nebrich saw the Rams execute well against a good Pioneer defense.

“It’s a satisfying win, we fought for every single inch offensively,” he said. “That is a very good defense and they had a very good scheme ready for us and they knocked us around a little bit.”

Fordham (11–2) jumped ahead early with two quick scores to go up 14-0 with 10:22 left in the first. Ram’s head coach Joe Moorhead said the fast start was part of the team’s philosophy.

“We talk all the time about start fast and finish strong,” the third-year coach said. “Some of that is you have the right play call at the right time.”

The Pioneers came back with nine straight points including a touchdown pass to Tyler Dube to make it 14-9 with 2:26 to go in the first quarter. Fordham kicker Michael Marando, who was 3 of 3 on field goal attempts, was able to connect from 25-yards out to put his team ahead 17-9 with 5:25 left in the third.

Sacred Heart (9–3) came back on their next drive with a touchdown pass to Dube to make it 17-16 with 4:10 remaining in the first half. Nebrich took over after that. After starting the second quarter with an interception and a three and out on a later drive, Nebrich capped a nine-play, 82-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Brian Wetzel to give the Rams a 24-16 edge with nine seconds left in the first half. Moorhead said his quarterback’s ability to rebound from errors is where he has improved the most in his time with the Rams.

“I think the biggest growth with Michael in the last two years, three years has been the mental aspect of the game,” Moorehead said. “He is one of the best players in the country and he played like that today.”

Nebrich connected with Tebucky Jones Jr. for a 97- yard touchdown to make it 31-16 and take total control of the game. The two discussed using the play earlier in the game.

“It was something me and the wide outs were talking about because we had good leverage with Tebucky,” he said. “You really don’t expect a team to take a shot from the three yard line.”

The Rams iced the game with a touchdown run by Chase Edmonds, who set the school’s single season record for rushing record in yards 1,630 and touchdowns 22. It was more than enough for the defense led by Ian William, who had two interceptions, to secure the victory.

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