After a 41-17 blowout loss on Saturday, Marist (1-3) fell to 0-8 in their program’s history against Drake (1-3).
Marist has played a plethora of strong opponents since they joined the Pioneer Football League in 2009. Whether it’s San Diego, Dayton, or Jacksonville, the school has definitely had their work cut out for them in some cases. Nonetheless, apart from San Diego who hasn’t lost to a conference opponent since 2015 (29 straight games), the team that has given Marist the most trouble over these years has been Drake.
Drake, located in Des Moines, Iowa, has been a mainstay of the Pioneer League since its inauguration in 1993. During this time they have gone 109-52 in the conference, and 185-100-1 overall.
In terms of recent success, although they haven’t been on the indomitable level as San Diego, the Bulldogs still always tend to finish as one of the better teams in the conference. Since 2009, Drake has posted a record of 60-21 in the PFL (72-42 overall), won two co-conference championships, and had produced one NFL player, in Raiders tight end Eric Saubert.
As for Marist, beside 2013, the school’s 7-1 co-conference championship season, the Red Foxes have been unable to find the success that some of the other teams had claimed. Although they aren’t in the worst situation, during this time the Red Foxes have just a mediocre 42-40 conference record, 50-64 overall, and have only finished in the top three of the standings just once.
Despite the record difference, it’s still a little strange that Marist remains winless against Drake dating back to 2009. In the past 14 years, the only other Pioneer League team that has accomplished this feat has been the Valparaiso Crusaders, who have gone just 16-64 since 2009.
Let’s take a deep dive into how some of their head-to-head games have gone:
According to GoRedFoxes, Marist didn’t have much of an offensive pulse in their first two matches in 2009 and 2010. Scoring just one touchdown in that span, the Red Foxes got trounced by a combined score of 76-6.
Their fourth game in 2012 was easily the most disappointing of the bunch. After scoring four touchdowns, two from quarterback Tommy Reilly and two from running back Max Jacques, the Red Foxes found themselves up 27-3 with 3:36 left in the third quarter. However, with the help of two 17 plus yard passes and a 10-yard rush, Drake was able to make a 24-point comeback in just a matter of 13 minutes. They would then score again in overtime to win by a score of 34-27.
Regarding the two games in both 2017 and 2018, although they’ve both been pretty close, in the 120 combined minutes played Marist only led for a total of two minutes and 43 seconds. In addition the Red Foxes also threw more interceptions than touchdowns and were sacked nine times. The final score for the 2017 game was 19-14, while 2018 was 13-10.
As for the game on Saturday, Drake had control over Marist from the start, as after the first half, the score was 27-3. Drake’s quarterback Ian Corwin, threw for three touchdowns in the half and had an astonishing 236.9 QBR. Wide receiver Shane Feller also had a good day as he totaled 102 receiving yards throughout the game on just six catches. In terms of Marist’s production, quarterback Austin Day threw for 221 yards and a touchdown before being benched in the fourth quarter for redshirt sophomore Luke Strnad. Wide receiver Anthony Olivencia had 90 receiving yards and a touchdown while running back Mekhai Johnson had 73 yards on 11 carries.
Now with Saturday’s blowout loss adding to the total, Marist still remains winless to Drake after their first decade in the PFL.
When asked about Drake’s strong advantage over so many years, head coach Jim Parady gave them the credit that was due. “Each year is different, but they have a good team with a great makeup,” Parady said. “They’re a top two or three team year after year. We know that we need to go through them to get those wins.”
Parady also stressed the importance of having good decision making when going against them. “You don’t have much room for error when you play a team of that quality. A lot of the contests have been very close.”
Parady’s “error” that he pointed out came with close to five minutes left in the third quarter, down 27-10, when he decided to go for it on a 4th and 10, in which the team failed to convert, instead of kicking a field goal. “As I look at my game management, I look back on the situation, and I probably would’ve gone with a field goal to get it down to a two score game,” he said. “I just felt we were moving decently at that point and so I didn’t go with that.”
Parady also stated that his team needs to take advantage of more opportunities. “You have to get the ball into the endzone and we’re not doing that enough so we need to find that solution,” Parady said. “When we have those things in front of us, we need to step through and make those plays. For us as coaches, we need to make sure that we get our guys in the right positions over and over.” Despite the 24-point loss, Marist still had five more offensive yards.
As what has been for many years, Drake is no team to mess around with. Now with an 0-8 record against them, time will tell when that elusive victory will actually come into reality for Marist.
Edited by Doug Johnston
Header image by Allison Smith