Marist’s Revamped Offense Wins an Overtime Thriller

Junior captain Brock Bagozzi was on the hot seat in Indiana today. Last week, Bagozzi only completed 37.5% of his passes against Davidson’s heavy man defense, in part of a blowout loss just a week ago.

But, he proved why he is the starter today.

After a game-tying drive forcing overtime, Bagozzi led Marist to a stellar comeback win against the Valparaiso Beacons, as redshirt junior Amin Woods would take the ball to the house for a 25-yard game winning rush. Marist won their first game of the season 36-30, in part because of a stellar performance from Marist’s quarterback in dire situations and a four-touchdown day.

Valparaiso sprung into action in the first quarter, marching downfield with their best player– First Team All-PFL wide receiver Soloman Davis– burning defensive backs on one-on-one matchups with his quick feet and stellar route running. Davis caught four passes for 44 yards alone in the Beacons first scoring drive, capped off by a stop route in which redshirt sophomore quarterback Mike Appel would hit his target on the numbers for the Beacon’s first score.

Head coach Jim Parady wanted to switch things up early, as Marist’s only offensive score was off a muffed punt leading to a field goal. Backup quarterback Logan Brabham entered the game on Marist’s third drive, but was sent right back to the sideline as Marist would have to defer to special teams.

Except they wouldn’t punt.

The snap would go directly through the hands of freshman punter Joe Neubecker and slowly creep all the way to Marist’s one-yard line. The Beacons pushed Appel into the end zone on a quarterback sneak for their second consecutive touchdown. Marist had -8 offensive yards through the first quarter and could not get anything going with the Beacons taking a two-score lead.

Bagozzi re-entered the game, and within their own 10-yard line, the Red Foxes desperately needed a positive offensive play. The junior launched the ball down field to a one-on-one matchup to Will Downes, who leaped in the air and won the jump ball. Marist finally had progression and converted two more consecutive third downs helped out by Woods and a strong short catch from Matt Stianche to get to the red zone. 

In a fourth-straight third down on the drive, Bagozzi would roll out left and hustle towards the marker for a rush one-yard short of the marker, but Woods rushed through the line on a crucial fourth down getting Marist a set of downs to the goal. 

Rolling off his own momentum, he threw a picture-perfect lob on 2nd-and-short to Downes, rotating his entire body with excellent control and getting Marist within four points on a 90-yard scoring drive. Marist went 10-19 on third downs and both of their fourth down conversions, keeping them in the game despite falling early in the first quarter.

Bagozzi kept on rolling. 

Despite the low accuracy last week, he showed off his deep ball accuracy in flashes to Stianche against Davidson. The difference was less mistakes, and after redshirt junior Triston Shannon set up the Red Foxes in good field position on a return, Bagozzi fired another deep ball on the left-side hashes for Stianche, bringing it down over his shoulder for a whopping 40-yard gain. 

On a read option play right after the big pass, all the defenders shifted left as Bagozzi dashed right, showing off his athleticism in the open field, and scoring Marist’s second touchdown with under a minute to go in the second half. Marist up 17-14.

Redshirt senior Solomon Davis, who was quiet in the second quarter, revived the Beacons offense with his speed on a slant route, blowing past the safeties for a big gain for the Beacons. Any time the slot receiver had space, he excelled in open field and got plenty of yards after the catch, including on a crucial third-and-long situation to keep their first offensive drive alive in the third.

Marist could not get any offense moving down field, resulting in a second-straight score for the Beacons on a field goal. Marist suddenly down a touchdown was trying to keep up with Valparaiso’s short passing game as the Beacons attempted to expand their lead 24-17, and -3 yards of offense in the third quarter proved Marist was in trouble.

Captain Mike Arrington stepped up for the defense and stuffed sophomore Barret Labus on a fourth-and-one stop, giving Marist the first drive of the fourth quarter. Bagozzi continued to use his legs and arm to push Marist downfield while his accuracy sharpened. The offense marched downfield, and at the 28-yard line they were forced to throw on fourth down. With great protection, Bagozzi threw another beautiful ball to Downes to get the score on the corresponding play.

Bagozzi could only take the Red Foxes so far. 

After a kick return to the 50-yard line, Appel saw his favorite target downfield and slotted Davis between two safeties in the end zone. Up six after a missed PAT kick, the ball was in Bagozzi’s hands with an opportunity to take the lead.

Marist made two big mistakes from the get-go on the last drive, with two holding penalties in a row. On the second, Hafner shoved Bagozzi out of bounds on a dead ball, giving Marist a second life. As he had done all day, Bagozzi converted again on a crucial fourth down short pass. The Beacons had no answer, and within the red zone, Bagozzi came up clutch once more and put the ball directly in Stianche’s hands to tie the game.

To add to the drama, the PAT got blocked.

A back-and-forth game was headed to overtime. With Valparaiso getting the ball first, graduate student Kyle Coffindaffer sacked Appel forcing a field goal try, which doinked the right post, meaning Marist only needed a score to complete the back-and-forth game.

With plenty of blockers, Woods would march through a lane in the middle of the field and secure Marist their first win of the season and a win against a PFL opponent. Bagozzi helped Marist get out of their scoring woes, and the Red Foxes will look to bring the momentum back home as they host Stetson next week.

Edited by Jimmy Tsiantoulas

Photo by Kira Crutcher

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