After a dominant home victory against Presbyterian last week, the Marist Red Foxes took advantage of another one of the PFL’s worst teams, beating the Morehead State Eagles 31-21.
Marist had some travel problems getting to Morehead, Kentucky, to say the least. There was a heavy fog at LaGuardia Airport in Queens, where the Red Foxes typically depart for flights. The football team was spread out into three different flights, and all three of those flights were delayed.
The last group got to their hotel at 2 a.m. local time, leading the game to be delayed from its scheduled start time of 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Even with the short rest, the Red Foxes still found a way to push through.
The wind was gusting, and so was the Marist defense early on. The Red Foxes had a great start, building off their impressive performance last week where they only allowed seven points.
The Eagles were forced to start their third-string quarterback, true freshman Colin Parachek, after their top two quarterbacks (Grady Cramer and Carter Cravens) were out for this game. There was no reason given for this absence.
On Morehead State’s second drive of the game, graduate student linebacker Arthur Pinckney made a stop on freshman running back Zavier Lomax on fourth and short in Marist’s red zone. This defense has given up fourth-down conversions at a 58 percent clip, but they have been able to stop fourth downs in their red zone, coming up at crucial moments.
The Red Fox offense started quietly, but by the time the second quarter hit, they began to run and sling the ball all over the Eagle defense. True sophomore quarterback Brock Bagozzi began to pick on redshirt sophomore defensive back Donte Jones and passed it to whoever he was on.
This got multiple receivers in the groove and warmed up early, as well as put Morehead State on their toes knowing that Bagozzi didn’t shy away from any option.
The drive ended with a dot to redshirt senior Scott Scherzer on the sideline 10-yards out, who then cut up the field, high-stepped over defenders, and scored a touchdown. This was Scherzer’s first touchdown of the season.
Morehead State had the answer, going on a methodical drive, and quite honestly getting one of the luckiest breaks this college football season. While they were around Marist’s 30-yard-line, Parachek was looking deep for his receiver when redshirt senior Clayborne Fields III made an incredible, diving interception to give the Marist offense another opportunity.
This would have been great if there wasn’t a flag on the play.
The refs called a phantom pass interference on Fields, a call that had head coach Jim Parady flabbergasted. Even the Morehead State announcers on ESPN3 had no clue what the refs saw. This led to an easy rushing touchdown for running back James Louis, tying the game at 7-7.
Marist quickly countered this score, and of course, it came from their fastest player, redshirt senior Glenmour Leonard-Osbourne. He fielded the kickoff and sprinted 97 yards, getting great blocks from his teammates along the way. This was his second kickoff return score of the season.
The Eagles then went on a 75-yard drive that ended with a beautiful, toe-tapped, 10-yard touchdown pass from Parachek to receiver Christian Graves, tying the score at 14 entering halftime.
The third quarter looked a lot like the first quarter, and it was bound to stay that way until redshirt freshman Jihad McCall ran into redshirt junior punter Dominic Donohue on fourth-down. This gave Marist the automatic first down past midfield and changed the complexion of the game.
Bagozzi immediately hit redshirt sophomore receiver Brett Landis on a 32-yard connection, going out of bounds at Morehead State’s three-yard mark. Bagozzi then handed the ball off to Leonard-Osbourne who scored his second rushing touchdown of the day with two minutes remaining in the third, putting Marist back up 21-14.
Like the second quarter, this was met with a counterpunch from the Eagles, scoring just a few minutes later on Christian Graves’ second receiving touchdown of the game to tie the game once again.
Marist just simply couldn’t pull away from Morehead State, but the offense did a great job of not losing their composure whenever they lost their lead. Sometimes you see teams try a little too hard when they lose their leads, trying to make big plays to regain their momentum.
The Red Foxes just ran their normal offense, and it proved effective in this go-around.
After a few stalled drives from both sides, Marist got the ball back with about six minutes left, looking for the decisive blow. After some positive plays, Bagozzi threw another successful deep shot, this one being a 34-yarder to Landis to the Morehead nine-yard line.
Bagozzi then threw a jump pass to graduate student tight end Wyatt McMahon, which resulted in Bagozzi’s second touchdown pass of the day and put Marist up 28-21.
This time, Marist would not look back.
On what ended up being the decisive play of the game, James Louis got the ball and was hit by a slew of Marist defenders almost immediately, fumbling the ball in the process. He would recover it on the ground, but it was fourth down, so Marist got the ball at Morehead State’s 30.
Redshirt senior kicker Luke Paladino would narrowly make a 45-yard field goal to give Marist a 31-21 lead and dash the hopes of the Eagles in the process.
Marist now moves to a 4-5 record overall, with a record of 4-3 in the PFL. This was their third PFL road win of the season.
The Red Foxes will head on back to Tenney Stadium for the final time this season next week, as they host the Valparaiso Crusaders on senior day. Kickoff is scheduled for noon.
Edited by Jonathan Kinane
Photo from Kira Crutcher