The Marist Red Foxes (2-2, 2-0) hosted the Stetson University Hatters (2-3, 0-2) for their first home game against a Pioneer Football League opponent. The Foxes put their foot on the gas and never let up, cruising to a 34-3 win over the Hatters.
The PFL rivals joined forces in this game to raise awareness for mental health. The Red Foxes and the Hatters supported Hilinski’s Hope College Football Mental Health Week with helmet decals and players raising three fingers at the start of the third quarter.
The Marist offense dominated right out of the gate. Stetson stacked the line of scrimmage, putting as many as seven or eight players in the box á la Buddy Ryan’s 4-6 defense. Although they didn’t rush everyone, the strategy came at the cost of having minimal safety help over the top and the middle of the field. Redshirt senior quarterback Austin Day and wide receiver Dwayne Menders took advantage of that, as Marist’s leading receiver found himself open over the middle of the field like clockwork.
Menders racked up 116 receiving yards and a touchdown before halftime. The redshirt junior ended the game with 142 yards on 10 catches, his second game of the season with double-digit catches and over 100 yards, both of which came at home. “Dwayne has made tremendous progress,” said head coach Jim Parady. “I think he has a newfound comfort with being on the field and finding seams and catching the tough balls as the season has gone along.”
Day completed 22 of 31 passes for 276 yards and threw two touchdowns. Redshirt freshman, tight end Brandon Lysick recorded 38 receiving yards and a touchdown, redshirt junior wide receiver Scott Scherzer recorded 27 yards and redshirt junior running back Hunter Cobb added 38 rushing yards and a touchdown on the ground.
Marist also took advantage of Stetson’s line-packing scheme by drawing offsides penalties. By mixing up the snap counts, which Day implemented on the fly, the Hatters surrendered a free five yards on three occasions in the first half. The Foxes made them pay for their transgressions by scoring on each of those drives.
“That’s just great game management,” Parody said about Day’s recognition of Stetson’s lack of discipline. “That comes with experience and comfort…Stetson’s a high-blitz team, so it felt that if we could identify some of the blitzes by giving some false snap counts, we were able to do that.”
Eventually, Stetson’s defense caught up. They got serious pressure on Day near the end of the first half and to start off the second, forcing a fumble and pinning Marist over 10 yards further back multiple times. The Foxes rebounded with a lengthy drive that ended in a touchdown pass to Lysick.
Defensively, the Foxes were somewhat vulnerable to screen plays and runs up the middle. Although they bent, they never broke. The Hatters were largely ineffective in the red zone, as the Foxes held their ground tightly and only gave up a field goal all afternoon. Parady said the scout-team offense received a game ball for their efforts in helping the starting unit prepare.
Redshirt junior linebacker Mike Arrington led the way with 14 total tackles, followed by fellow redshirt junior linebacker Jayden Johnson with nine. Redshirt junior defensive lineman Nick Folgia recorded eight. The defense also put up its first points of the season off a first-quarter pick-six from redshirt sophomore safety Kyle Coffindaffer.
The defense dominated because of their ability to prevent big plays, as Stetson recorded only one 30-yard gain in non-garbage time minutes. “It just gives us a lot of confidence when they’re not able to break off those big runs,” Arrington said. “It gives us a chance to recoup and realize what we need to do and what they’re trying to do to us.”
The Red Foxes return to action next Saturday, Oct. 16 at noon when they travel to Ohio to face the Dayton Flyers.
Edited by Mackenzie Meaney
Photo courtesy of Jonathan Kinane