Rain was forecasted for this Saturday of Family Weekend, but it never came. Instead, St. Thomas came to Poughkeepsie and made it rain in Tenney Stadium, beating the Marist Red Foxes by a score of 38-24. This is the third game where Red Foxes have allowed 38 or more points this year, and they account for all of Marist’s losses.
St. Thomas ran a more traditional offense than the ones Marist has seen this season, showing a lot of I-formation and standard shotgun. That, however, did not stop the Tommies from being aggressive in their play calling, going deep on multiple occasions. These were backbreakers to a gassed Marist defense who had to run up and down the field today for the 39 minutes of St. Thomas possession.
There was a particularly strong connection between St. Thomas senior quarterback Cade Sexauer and sophomore receiver Andrew McElroy, who connected on two impressive sideline connections including a sensational one-handed catch.
By the end of the first half, McElroy had racked up five catches for 83 yards, and he was used as a decoy on multiple occasions to convert first downs.
This deep passing game hurt the Marist defense, especially since they were playing lots of man-to-man with one or no safeties over the top to help.
“We came heavy on the run because we know that’s their bread and butter,” said graduate safety and team captain Teddy Wright. “We kinda put a lot on our corners this week…we left them kinda on an island…when you throw as many deep balls as [St. Thomas] did, some are gonna go their way.”
Marist couldn’t take advantage of the Tommies’ defense whatsoever in the first half as St. Thomas outgained the Red Foxes 235-53, and the Marist offense looked as inept as their first two home games this season.
Even though these factors had all the makings of a blowout, Marist came out in the second half firing, really bringing out the cliché of there being a “tale of two halves.”
The Red Foxes were down 21-3 at halftime, and there was a well-needed talk in the home locker room.
“They saw what we did last week and took in what we did last year against them,” said Parady. “They took some of those things away…Coach Dembow and the rest of the offensive staff moved to the next step in the gameplan…we didn’t think we would call these [plays] but it was in the gameplan.”
Brock Bagozzi began the second half slinging in a 69-yard drive, ending in a six-yard touchdown pass to redshirt junior tight end Max Mazzella. This came off of a fake QB draw play that had the stout and instinctive St. Thomas defense in hesitation.
This was the beginning of offensive fireworks from both sides, with touchdowns being scored on back-to-back-to-back drives combined between the two sides.
St. Thomas is known for their ability to force opposing offenses to turn the ball over, but the roles reversed today – at least until the fourth quarter. With three minutes to go in the first quarter, redshirt sophomore defensive end Miles Kauderer caused a strip sack on Sexauer, giving the Red Foxes the ball near the red zone.
The Marist offense couldn’t capitalize on excellent field position, and after confusion on a third down drop that was initially ruled a scoop and score for St. Thomas, the Red Foxes settled for the field goal.
In the third quarter, Marist forced a second turnover when redshirt junior cornerback Tyhir Harley picked off Sexauer in the red zone, to give the Red Foxes the ball back at a pivotal point in the game when they were down by 11.
At this point, Marist was winning the turnover battle 2-0, and any fan of Red Fox football would rightfully believe that this would be enough to help propel them to a win. By the time the fourth quarter came around, the roles switched to their rightful places, and Marist ended up committing the two biggest turnovers of the game.
After the great pick from Harley, Bagozzi threw an ill-advised ball while he was falling down right to graduate student linebacker Trent Meyer, who then returned the ball within the Marist 10-yard line to end the third quarter.
This led to a St. Thomas field goal, and on the immediate next possession, Bagozzi threw a pass that got ricocheted around 10 yards downfield. Sophomore safety Grif Wurtz would catch the ball while it was in the air, giving St. Thomas the ball once again at around their own 40-yard-line.
“It may seem like a lot of the time the other team beats us,” said Wright. “But most of the time we beat ourselves. We lose our assignments and the moment gets too big for us…coach [Scott] Rumsey does a great job game planning…we gotta be better as players to execute plays.”
Marist would eventually get the ball back after St. Thomas couldn’t convert on fourth down, but they went nowhere with it. It was fourth down with four yards to go with about 10 minutes left at around midfield, but Parady made the decision to punt the football with the wind going their way.
Little did the Red Foxes know that this would lead to a St. Thomas drive where they drained most of the remaining clock and essentially end the game.
“I figured we had at least two possessions left in us,” said Parady. “We had all three timeouts in our pocket when I decided to punt, so those all played in to the factor.”
A week after achieving the triple crown in touchdowns, Brock Bagozzi had a solid outing overall. He threw 23-39 for 269 yards, with three touchdowns and those two demoralizing interceptions. The second interception wasn’t necessarily his fault since it was caused by his receiver’s drop, but they were the game’s deciding factors.
“This was definitely a learning game for him,” said Parady. “[Bagozzi] came to me afterward and told me that he just try not to make the big play every play, and just understand that there’s another down coming.”
Marist is now 1-3 and 1-1 in PFL play. They will march forward on their PFL schedule next week, as they head to central Florida to play the Stetson Hatters a week and a half after portions of the state got ravaged by Hurricane Ian.
Center Field will provide updates if there are any scheduling changes to this matchup.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane
Photos from Kira Crutcher