Sacred Heart at Fordham FCS Football 2013 Playoffs 1st Round Game Breakdown

George Hammond

Sacred Heart at Fordham FCS Football 2013 Playoffs 1st Round Game Breakdown


Sacred Heart at Fordham, Saturday, 1:00

Two turnaround programs face each other in the Big Apple in what should be an entertaining first-round matchup between Northeast Conference champion Sacred Heart (10-2) and at-large entry Fordham (11-1) when they meet for the first time.  Two years ago, Fordham went 1-10 and last year, Sacred Heart went 2-9. In fact, the Pioneers were picked to finish last this year in the NEC preseason poll but a 42-25 victory two weeks ago over Robert Morris gave Sacred Heart the crown. Fordham wasn’t eligible for the Patriot League title this season, but it was eligible for an at-large berth as the Rams began to offer athletic scholarships in 2010 while the rest of the league didn’t start until 2012. The only blemish on the Rams’ schedule this season came against Lafayette, 27-14, when standout quarterback Mike Nebrich was out with an injury. But when he was in control, Fordham was nearly unstoppable. The Rams set single-season records for most points and most total yards. Individually, Nebrich threw for 3,576 yards and 28 TDs. He leads the FCS in completion percentage, is third in total offense and fifth in passing yards per game. He has a trio of weapons in Sam Ajala (78 receptions), Brian Wetzel (77) and Tebucky Jones (76). Ajala and Jones became the first receiving tandem in school history to have 1,000 receiving yards in the same season. Meanwhile, the Pioneers are led by redshirt freshman quarterback RJ Noel and running back Keshaudas Spence (1,475 rushing yards, 11 TDs). They are 13th nationally in rushing offense and will try to keep Nebrich and company off the field. Where Sacred Heart really shines, however, is in turnover margin. The Pioneers are No. 1 nationally in that category as they hope to force Nebrich into costly mistakes on Saturday. The two schools played three common opponents this fall. Sacred Heart beat Lafayette, 26-24, and Bucknell, 16-0, but lost to St. Francis, Pa., 24-10.  Fordham lost to Lafayette, but defeated Bucknell, 23-21, and St. Francis, Pa., 38-20. The winner of this game plays at Towson on December 7.

Projected Score: Fordham 27, Sacred Heart 10


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