BRONX, N.Y. – Behind three scoring plays of at least 55 yards, Fordham edged the Bucknell football team, 20-9, on Saturday at Jack Coffey Field in the season finale for both teams.
After the Bison (5-6, 2-4 Patriot League) took a 9-7 lead with 10:49 remaining in regulation on John Burdick’s third field goal of the contest, the Rams (4-7, 3-3 Patriot League) responded with a pair of touchdowns to put the game away.
Simeon Page paced the Bucknell defense with six tackles for a loss, which is tied for sixth in FCS history. His four sacks tied a Bison record last matched in 1998. In total, he caused Fordham to lose 33 yards during the contest.
Bucknell forced six fumbles, recovering three. Two of Burdick’s field goals came after a Bison, first Abdullah Anderson and then Craig Cassidy, recovered a fumble in the red zone. Page forced the fumble recovered by Cassidy with his third sack of the game.
The defense allowed only 234 yards of total offense during the contest, 120 of which came on Chase Edmonds’s pair of touchdowns. Edmonds, a 2016 consensus All-American and the 2017 Patriot League Preseason Offensive Player of the Year, will graduate as the Patriot League's all-time leading rusher with 5,862 yards.
Just under three minutes after Burdick’s go-ahead field goal, Austin Longi returned a punt 90 yards for a touchdown to stake Fordham a 13-9 advantage. The Rams attempted the two-point conversion, but Isaiah Searight’s pass fell incomplete.
After the teams traded three and outs, the Bison got the ball back with 4:52 on the clock at their 49. Fordham held fast, and Bucknell couldn’t convert on a 4th and 2 on the Ram 45. On the first play of Fordham’s resulting drive, Edmonds broke free for a 55-yard score, effectively icing the game.
The first quarter was an offensive struggle, with the teams combining for just three first downs and 75 yards of total offense. While both defenses came up with big turnovers, neither offense could capitalize.
With 6:20 to play in the opening frame, Antoni Jackson intercepted a John Chiarolanzio deep ball just outside of the end zone and returned it 55 yards to the Bucknell 45. But the Bison defense forced the Ram offense to go three and out, with Anderson bringing down Edmonds for a loss of three yards on the first play of that drive and Page sacking King for a loss of eight yards on 3rd and 7.
After nearly giving up a safety, Bucknell was forced to punt from deep in its own end with 2:04 left to play in the first quarter. But the Bison got the ball right back when John Hunt forced a fumble on the punt return and Mike Caruso recovered it at the Fordham 39. Bucknell advanced to the Ram 19 at the 14:50 mark of the second; after Chiarolanzio’s pass to Justin Bethea fell incomplete on 3rd and 4, Burdick’s 37-yard field-goal attempt sailed wide left to keep the game scoreless.
Fordham finally broke through at the 8:11 mark of the second quarter when Edmonds broke multiple tackles en route to a 65-yard touchdown. The Rams held that 7-0 lead until the 3:41 mark of the third quarter, when Burdick kicked his first field goal. His next, which trimmed the deficit to one, came with 12:58 on the clock in the final frame.
Burdick’s trio of field goals gave him 14 on the season, which equaled Ryan Korn’s (2003) single-season school record.
Alex Pechin had an outstanding day, posting a career-high 50.9 punting average. He landed six of his 10 punts inside the 20 and had three go for 60+ yards, including a career-long 67.
Brandon Benson (9), Page (8), Aaron Brown (8) and Fisayo Oluleye (8) all made at least eight tackles. Brown matched his career high with that total while Oluleye set a new career high. Seven Bison had at least one tackle for a loss, with Page and Mark Pyles (2) each posting multiple sacks.
Offensively, Joey DeFloria finished with 75 yards on 20 carries. He broke free for a season-long 33-yard run on the fourth quarter’s first play to set up Burdick’s second field goal.
Chiarolanzio completed 17 of 43 passes for 162 yards while Bethea led the Bison receivers with a career-high 61 receiving yards on three catches.
For Fordham, Edmonds finished with 185 yards and two touchdowns on 28 carries. King threw for just 92 yards on 11 completions, enduring seven sacks.
The Rams held slim advantages in total offense (234-230) and first downs (12-10) while the Bison led in possession time (31:37-28:23).