FACTS & STATS: Site: Jack Coffey Field (7,000) – Bronx, New York. Surface:
FieldTurfTM. Television: ESPN3.com. Announcers: Bob Picozzi. Home Record:
Sacred Heart 5-2; Fordham 6-0. Away Record: Sacred Heart 4-0; Fordham
4-1. Series Record: Fordham (1-0). Last Meeting: Nov. 30, 2013 (Fordham, 37-27
at Fordham – FCS Playoffs). Series Streak: Fordham won the only previous
meeting. Conference: Sacred Heart – Northeast; Fordham – Patriot League.
Nicknames: Sacred Heart Pioneers; Fordham Rams. Head Coaches: Sacred Heart –
Mark Nofri (3rd year, 21-14 at Sacred Heart and overall); Fordham – Joe
Moorhead (3rd year, 28-9 at Fordham and overall). Playoff Records: Sacred Heart
(0-1); Fordham (2-3). Previous FCS Playoff Appearances: Sacred Heart 1 (2013);
Fordham 3 (2002, 2007, 2013). Current Playoff Streak: Sacred Heart lost its
only FCS playoff game; Fordham has split its six FCS playoff games.
GAME NOTES: If this matchup looks familiar, it’s because these teams met in
the first round of last year’s playoffs, with Fordham winning the first-ever
meeting at home, 37-27. Both teams are back with many of the same veteran
Fordham quarterback Mike Nebrich passed for 413 yards and three touchdowns in
last year’s meeting, and Sacred Heart will be hard-pressed to stop a similar
Rams’ passing game. Brian Wetzel (1,047), Tebucky Jones Jr. (999 yards) and Sam
Ajala (953) are primed to give the Patriot League champions three 1,000-yard
wide receivers for the second straight season. Nebrich and freshman running
back Chase Edmonds (1,539 yards and 21 touchdowns on the ground) appear
to be back to 100 percent after they were eased up late in the regular season.
The Rams’ 42.2-point average is tied for third-best the FCS.
Their defense surrenders 21.6 points per game, but that number is inflated by
losses to their two toughest opponents, Villanova and Army. Otherwise, it’s
16.7. Defensive end Brett Biestek (18 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks) and
cornerback Ian Williams (two interceptions, 11 pass breakups) are their
Sacred Heart, which won the Northeast Conference title for the second
consecutive season, is coming off a bye with the chance to heal up heading into
the postseason. The Pioneers surrender only 2.4 yards per carry and have a star
in each defensive unit with defensive tackle Troy Moore, outside linebacker
James Rentz and safety J.D. Roussel.
Running back Keshaudas Spence slumped down the stretch, which brought the
speedier Sean Bell more into the picture. So much depends on quarterback RJ
Noel (21 touchdowns but 13 interceptions) being mistake-free. He
has terrific chemistry with wide receiver Tyler Dube (72 receptions, 14
The winner will face top-seeded New Hampshire on Dec. 6.
PREDICTION: Sacred Heart needs to establish the run game and keep Nebrich and
Co. on the sideline. The Rams simply have too much offense. Fordham, 35-24.