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How does one rack up 30 tackles against an FBS foe? For Fordham's Greenhagen, it's 'relentless pursuit'

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Fordham vs. Nebraska, 9.4

Nebraska's Logan Smothers is tackled by Fordham's Ryan Greenhagen on Saturday at Memorial Stadium.

Fordham linebacker Ryan Greenhagen was all over the field Saturday, pulling down Husker runners 30 times to set a Nebraska opponent record and tie the Memorial Stadium record for total tackles.

The FCS preseason All-American said he didn’t think he’d ever hit the 30-tackle mark before, much less against a Big Ten team on its home field.

“I don't really know, but I don't think so,” Greenhagen said. “I'm not a big stats guy, but, yeah, I'm proud of the effort the whole defense had. Obviously, would like to see a different outcome, but I'm proud of the way we played.”

Greenhagen, who had 13 solo tackles and 17 assists, tied the stadium record that Nebraska’s Clete Pillen set against Oklahoma State in 1976, and is just the third opponent in Nebraska history to have 25 or more tackles.

“It's an amazing game,” Fordham coach Joe Conlin said. “I noticed from the sideline he was all over the place. I would be more surprised if it was someone other than Ryan, that’s just the type of player he is. He's the leader of our defense, great kid. That’s how he prepares and that's the effort. He’s gonna play that way every game, not just this one.”

That play, Greenhagen said, starts with studying film and working hard in practice, then taking that effort onto the field.

“I think the key to being a linebacker is just relentless pursuit to the football,” Greenhagen said. “I mean, that's the key to being any good football player; if you're around the ball, you're probably doing something right. … They did a really good job up front. I just tried to get off the ball and get to the football.”

Greenhagen’s record-setting performance was the highlight of the game for Fordham, which hung with the Huskers for a quarter, tying the game at 7-7 on a 31-yard pass from Tim DeMorat to Fotis Kokosioulis in the first minute of the second quarter.

But miscues cost the Rams scoring opportunities and turned into Nebraska scores before an outmatched Fordham team ran out of gas in the second half.

“I thought we played great early on, guys came out and they played their hearts out,” Conklin said. “We just didn't finish two drives. We got down near the red zone in the first half twice and just didn't finish drives, kind of made some execution mistakes. Defensively, I thought the effort in the first half was great. …

“Obviously, in the second half we came out and got the ball and tried to get things going a little bit. We stalled out. We didn’t generate a first down for a quarter and a half. It was just too much for the defense to shoulder the load. They were able to get the better of us on the ground and it kind of went from there.”

Both Conlin and Greenhagen said playing an FBS team wasn’t all that different than their usual FCS competition.

“Football is football, so at the end of the day you're gonna see, you're gonna see inside zone, you're gonna see counter, you're gonna see, you're gonna see the similar running plays,” Greenhagen said. “They’re a little bit bigger, a little bit faster, but you know … means you have to pump your game up a little bit more and play a little bit harder.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or On Twitter @KentWolgamott  


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Entertainment reporter/columnist

L. Kent Wolgamott, the recipient of the 2018 Mayor’s Arts Award, has written about arts and entertainment for Lincoln newspapers since 1985, reviewing thousands of movies and concerts and hundreds of art exhibitions.

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