Last week in a thrilling victory over Stetson, Marist’s starting running back-redshirt junior Amin Woods-was the story of the game as he racked up 236 yards on a program record 38 carries.
Today, Columbia’s defense made it a priority to bottle up Marist’s rushing attack and it was instead Columbia’s senior running back tandem-Joey Giorgi and Ty’son Edwards-that dominated the game.
Edwards averaged over seven yards per carry, finishing with 105 yards on 14 carries and two touchdowns. His counterpart, Giorgi, ran for 83 yards on 15 carries.
“We knew coming in that they had a strong rushing attack and the backs were very good. We bent a little bit with it, but we came up with some good plays on the defensive side. If you look at the yardage, I think it is sometimes a bit misleading,” said head coach Jim Parady.
The game kicked off amidst a torrential downpour and heavy winds, and it was clear it would be won on the ground.
The opening kickoff was bobbled by Marist’s running back and returner-redshirt junior Tristan Shannon, which would be a sign of things to come as the weather conditions affected both teams early and often.
“It was crazy. At one point it was pouring and at another point the wind really started to kick up,” said Parady. “We knew that going in. We talked about it since Thursday.”
Bagozzi’s first pass of the day was deflected and nearly intercepted by Columbia’s junior defensive lineman Justin Townsend. On third down, the Columbia pass rush got to Bagozzi for a sack, and Marist was forced to punt after a three-and-out.
Redshirt junior defensive lineman Dominic Dutton was everywhere defensively for Marist’s first drive. On the Lions’ first play from scrimmage, Dutton read the play and deflected a pass at the line of scrimmage. On the first third down opportunity for the Marist defense, Dutton got to senior quarterback Caden Bell for a strip-sack, but it was recovered by the Lions.
“He plays hard. He has played that way all year,” said Parady. “We talked about making plays, and he was able to rack up a couple of good ones today.”
After their second consecutive three-and-out, Marist punted and senior defensive back Carter McFadden made a man miss and gained 26 yards, setting Columbia up at Marist’s 35-yard line.
Despite the good field position, Marist had multiple chances to get the Lions off the field, but they allowed two crucial third down conversions on the drive.
After setting up a first-and-goal, Columbia was stopped on three consecutive plays, setting up a fourth-and-goal at the one yard line. Edwards scored a touchdown on fourth-and-goal, but freshman kicker Hugo Merry missed the extra point attempt, giving Columbia a 6-0 lead.
On their next drive, Marist finally converted their first third down of the game, as redshirt senior wide receiver Will Downes fought through contact on a pass from Bagozzi to get the first down.
After two unsuccessful runs by Shannon, Marist was set up with a third and long. Columbia sent the blitz, but Bagozzi avoided the pressure and completed an 11 yard dart to redshirt sophomore tight end Jackson Willette, setting up a fourth-and-1 on their own 40. But, Marist head coach Jim Parady decided to punt.
On Columbia’s ensuing possession, they were faced with a fourth down situation of their own. The Lions lined up to go for it at midfield, but the ball was fumbled by Bell and recovered by graduate student linebacker Mike Arrington.
The drive for Marist had a promising start, but would stall all too quickly. Senior defensive lineman Quentin Autry plowed through the offensive line, getting to Bagozzi for a 13-yard sack, forcing Marist to punt after another three-and-out.
On a crucial third-and-5, graduate student linebacker Arthur Pickney sniffed out the trick play, and out trotted Hugo to attempt a 40-yard field goal despite the inclement weather. He redeemed himself from earlier, knocking the field goal right through the upright, giving Columbia a 9-0 lead.
Nearing the two minute mark in the first half, Marist faced a third-and-8. Columbia sent the house, and Bagozzi was sacked again, forcing a punt. Marist was called for a holding penalty on the kick, giving the Lions free yardage and setting them up at midfield to start their next drive.
Facing a third-and-4 in Marist territory, Edwards took the handoff and burst through the hole for a 22-yard touchdown run, giving Columbia a 16-0 lead as the first half came to a close.
Facing a 16 point deficit, the Red Foxes looked to bounce back in the second half. But that was when the turnovers started.
Marist took over in Columbia territory early in the third with an opportunity to score. On third down, Bagozzi escaped pressure and threw a pass intended for Willette, but it was deflected and intercepted by junior defensive back Aaron Brebnor.
The Lions’ offense took the field hoping to add to their lead, and after a strong run by Bell, Columbia was set up in the red zone. On third-and-long from Marist’s 16-yard line, another bad snap was fumbled by Bell and recovered by Arrington. This was Columbia’s fifth total fumble of the game, and the third recovered by the Red Foxes.
Marist faced a fourth-and-3 soon after, and Bagozzi’s pass was deflected and intercepted by Brebnor for his second interception on the day.
Marist’s defense continued to hold strong despite the lack of production on the offensive side. They forced another quick punt and got off the field giving the offense yet another chance. But the nightmare continued as Shannon would fumble just a few plays later.
Marist got it right back after another three-and-out, and on first down, junior linebacker Rocco Milia came down with a miraculous interception off of Bagozzi, tallying Marist’s fourth turnover of the day, and setting the Lions up inside the red zone.
Columbia would attempt a field goal to make it a three possession game, but Merry’s kick was no good. The game was still out of reach, as the Red Foxes would get the ball back with four minutes left.
The Lion defense forced an incompletion on fourth down, driving in the final nail as Columbia held on to win 16-0.
With a hard-fought loss, Marist falls back below .500 (2-3) and looks to bounce back next week as they return back home to take on San Diego next Saturday at 12:00 p.m.
Edited by Jimmy Tsiantoulas
Photo by Jaylen Rizzo
Graphic by Cara Lacey