Fordham's Koonce looks to meeting with Temple

Fordam running back Carlton Koonce, shown in his high school playing days at RV.
Fordam running back Carlton Koonce, shown in his high school playing days at RV. (KEVIN COOK / For The Inquirer)
Posted: September 15, 2013

At some point Saturday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field, former Rancocas Valley High School running back Carlton Koonce will exchange pleasantries with Temple players such as offensive lineman Eric Lofton and Raymond Korang, who, like Koonce, played at the Lumberton school.

But that will be only after Koonce and his Fordham (2-0) teammates have done everything in their power to upend the Owls (0-2).

Last week against Villanova, the Football Championship Subdivision Rams forced the then-No. 8 ranked Wildcats into five fumbles on the way to upsetting Villanova, 27-24, in the Bronx. And nothing would make Koonce happier than improving to 3-0 with a win not too far from where he was raised.

"It is a challenge anytime you are talking about a team like Temple," Koonce, a senior, said. "Fordham isn't exactly a football magnet for recruits like Temple. We are a smaller school. They are deeper than us and we understand that.

"We have something to prove and we are going to play our hearts out."

Koonce did just that last season, rushing for a school-record 1,596 yards to lead the Patriot League in rushing and ranking fourth overall in the FCS. He averaged 145.2 yards rushing per game. Koonce also led the Patriot league and finished sixth in the FCS in total yards per game (173.6).

Those numbers resulted in Koonce, who transferred to Fordham from Hofstra in 2009 following a redshirt freshman season, being named to the 2013 Walter Payton Award Watch List and two preseason all-American teams by the Sports Network and Beyond Sports Network.

When he transferred to Fordham - because Hofstra discontinued its program - Koonce was not forced to sit out. Fordham tried him at first as a slot receiver and at running back. Before last season he never carried the football more than 38 times in a season.

After two games, the Rams have not leaned on Koonce as heavily as they did last season.

Koonce has carried the ball 36 times and is averaging 86.5 rushing yards per game. His 4.8 yards per carry is down from the 5.3 he averaged in 2012.

"We're just trying to win games and not looking at statistics," Koonce said. "And this is a game we really want to win."


Fordham at Temple

Saturday at 1 p.m., Lincoln Financial Field

Records: Fordham (2-0), Temple (0-2)

TV/Radio: ESPN 3/1210 AM WPHT

Coaches: Fordham Joe Moorhead (8-5); Temple Matt Rhule (0-2)

Series: Fordham leads the series, 4-0. Last time, Fordham won, 28-0, 1953.

Three Things to Watch

Clinton Granger replaces injured (knee) Connor Reilly at quarterback. The game marks Granger's first start since he started the last two games of the 2012 season.

Temple is looking to get its running attack started, and against Fordham they have a good opportunity to accomplish this. In their season opener vs. Rhode Island, Fordham allowed 277 yards on the ground.

The Owls are averaging just 9.5 points per game and have yet to score in the second half of their first two games.

Three Things You Might Not Know

The series is very lopsided in Fordham's favor. In building a 4-0 advantage, the Rams have outscored the Owls 116-39 in the previous meetings. Only once has Temple scored more than six points in a game.

Fordham's visit to Lincoln Financial Field will be its first game in an NFL stadium since 1983 when the Rams faced St. Norbert College on Lambeau Field in Green Bay. Fordham also played St. Norbert at Lambeau Field in 1982. The Rams lost both games to the Green Knights.

According to Temple, there are 14 former players on professional rosters. They are: WR Michael Campbell (New York Jets), OL Derek Dennis (Chicago), S Jaiquawn Jarrett (Jets), DT Terrance Knighton (Denver), TE Steve Maneri (Chicago), RB Bernard Pierce (Baltimore), DE Adrian Robinson (Denver), TE Evan Rodriguez (Miami), DE Brian Sanford (Cleveland), WR Rod Streater (Oakland), OL Martin Wallace (Cleveland), LB Tahir Whitehead (Detroit), DT Muhammad Wilkerson (Jets), and DE John Youboty (Denver). - John N. Mitchell


Contact John N. Mitchell at  jmitchell@philly.com. Follow on Twitter @JmitchInquirer

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