After their defense scored two touchdowns last week, Marist football came into Minnesota neck-and-neck at 4-1 in the MAAC conference with the St.Thomas Tommies, who were the 2022 PFL champions.
The Tommies didn’t seem to care. With the frigid Minnesota air on their side, St. Thomas exposed a shaky Red Fox rush defense en route to a 49-14 win, extending their home-field win streak to an impressive 30 games.
With over 200 rushing yards and a total of 311 scrimmage yards in the first half, the Tommies distanced themselves early from the Red Foxes and didn’t look back. Marist didn’t score their first touchdown until the final two minutes of the first half and gave up the most points they’ve conceded in a half all season.
Without an offensive score last week in a win against Presbyterian, Marist’s offense has enjoyed an efficient run game all season. They had 194 rushing yards despite not making it to the end zone in the win powered by their two premier running backs, redshirt juniors Amin Woods and Triston Shannon.
The Tommies’ number one ranked PFL-ranked rush defense completely stymied the Marist ground game. Marist offensive coordinator Casey Tosches relied on the arm of junior quarterback Brock Bagozzi to spark the offense, but the unit faltered, struggling with three turnovers in the first half.
Despite the score, the Marist defense appeared to build off their impressive performance last game. After a first possession three-and-out from the Tommies, and an ensuing interception within the red zone from Marist sophomore cornerback Rechee Smith, a hero in the game against Presbyterian with a 48-yard pick-six.
The Tommies immediately countered, with Bagozzi missing his read to Matt Stianche, resulting in an interception for fifth-year defensive back Johnson Fallah. Sophomore quarterback Amari Powell washed away the mistakes from the first two drives; he rolled out left on a play-action look and launched a 41-yard bullet to wide-open sophomore receiver Colin Chase to kick off the Tommie scoring parade.
While Bagozzi flashed an effective short passing game throughout the day, Marist failed to convert on third down in the first quarter on three tries, going 6-for-16 on third down. The quarterback completed 29-of-48 passes with 290 yards, but only rushed one in himself and got picked off twice.
Meanwhile, St. Thomas utilized three different running backs to trample over the Marist line, all three having a rush for 40 yards or more by the start of the second quarter. Leading the charge, junior Shawn Shipman looked unstoppable, entering the game with the third most rushing yards in the PFL. Powered by a bulky Tommies offensive line, Shipman came up with a 53-yard rush on St. Thomas’s second scoring drive of the game, rushing for a touchdown at the goal line to complement the impressive performance.
By the start of the fourth quarter, Marist found themselves down 42-7. With the game out of reach, backup quarterback and redshirt sophomore Logan Brabham came in the game to eat up snaps before time expired.
“It was really a slow start by us in our first four visits, but our last five possessions were ten-plus plays,” said head coach Jim Parady. “We found some things with a combination of run game and in pass game to get that but then we get down in there twice, but by that time it was 35-7 on the scoreboard.”
The Tommies’s trio of running backs each averaged over eight yards per carry, amassing five rushing touchdowns combined. A turnover-reliant Marist Defense could only watch as the run game galloped past them.
“We knew they were a talented group,” said Parady. “They come at you with a lot of different bodies and stay fresh. They stayed on the outside and we weren’t able to control the edges; they broke a few tackles too.”
On the other side of the ball, Woods and Shannon only came up with 30 rushing yards combined averaging 2.1 yards per carry. Time after time, the Tommies’ defense killed any ensuing drives by cutting off the run game. By the time the second quarter rolled around, Marist had no other option but to go for it on most fourth-down situations, only converting two-of-six tries while the Tommies never broke a sweat.
“This is a good group, and I know they’ll rally and come back to playing like they have in the last five weeks for us,” said Parady.
With the loss, Marist snapped the win streak that propelled them towards the top of the PFL conference. The loss adds increased urgency to next week’s homecoming game against a Drake football program riding a two-game win streak into Poughkeepsie. The matchup between the two 4-2 PFL teams kicks off at noon at Tenney Stadium.
Edited By Luke Sassa
Graphic Credit: Cara Lacey, Photo from Marist Athletics