On the 665th day since their last game, the Marist Red Foxes (0-1) came out throwing haymakers. Although they landed a few hits early on, the Columbia Lions (1-0) quickly regained composure and totally owned the rest of the game, handily defeating Marist by a score of 37-14.
Columbia rushed for 314 yards on the day and threw for 152. Conversely, Marist ran for just 64 yards and threw for 178. Marist struck first, and second, but the Lions asserted their dominance throughout the entire contest, defeating the Foxes for the fifth straight time in this matchup’s history.
Head coach Jim Parady admitted that the team did not play to the best of its ability. Although the team did some good things, Parady said, they have “a lot to improve on.”
Wide receiver Dwayne Menders put the first points on the board by taking a Columbia punt to the house on the game’s second possession, dashing down the right sideline for the Red Foxes’ first punt-return touchdown in seven years. Marist followed up the 82-yard score by regaining possession of the ball; Kyle Fleitman pried the ball loose on the kickoff and Teddy Wright recovered the fumble. On the ensuing play, Austin Day tossed a 42-yard touchdown to wideout Scott Scherzer. In the span of 30 seconds, Marist went up by 14 points.
But the Red Foxes couldn’t build anything else on the two-score lead they quickly snatched. Day faced heavy pressure from the edges on passing plays and wasn’t able to make anything happen in the collapsing pocket. Marist’s running game was virtually nonexistent. Simply put, the Red Foxes’ offense looked like a toy hammer trying to break down a brick wall. They were totally unable to sustain drives.
“We need to be able to run the football better,” Parady said. “In the first half, I think we had 10 carries for 11 yards…we didn’t have any first downs and that just kept putting the defense back out on the field without the ability to rest.” He also recognized that Columbia had stifled the Foxes’ short passing game, forcing Marist into plays where the quarterback held onto the football longer and exposed them more to the pass rush.
Marist only made it into Columbia territory on four of their drives, one of which started a yard behind midfield thanks to a strong kickoff return, and the other two occurred when they were already down by 23. Day and Scherzer linked up for two 40-yard pass plays early in the game (one being the early touchdown) but only three other plays from scrimmage that weren’t in garbage time went for double-digit yardage.
Columbia built scoring drives with ease, finding the end zone on three consecutive drives across the 2nd and 3rd quarters and scoring two field goals on each of their next possessions. The blunt-force running style of running back Ryan Young and the killer speed of running back Dante Miller, both of whom rushed for over 90 yards, allowed Columbia to matriculate the ball downfield.
Although the Red Foxes initially held strong on third downs, allowing only one conversion on seven tries in the first half, the Lions still cracked the code and poured on the points. Even when playing conservatively, relying exclusively on the run game to pick up yards and let the clock run, Columbia pulverized Marist’s defense.
Marist’s defense did itself no favors by posting a goose egg in the takeaway column. Marist’s offense produced one turnover, coming off of a second-quarter pass from Day that he threw into a sea of blue jerseys. Columbia’s Cam Dillon intercepted the pass and was downed on Marist’s own 21-yard line, though they had to settle for a field goal after the Foxes stopped them.
Marist will look to bounce back from the loss in its 2021 home debut next Saturday at 6:00 p.m. against the Bryant Bulldogs.
Edited by Ricardo Martinez
Photo Credit: Marist Athletics