Marist Football (4-3 in PFL) squared off against the Drake Bulldogs– an undefeated PFL team– for a top PFL-team matchup in Poughkeepsie during Marist Alumni Weekend.
With the second-best pass offense in the PFL, the Bulldogs bolster a dangerous threat to a Marist defense that let up 49 points against St. Thomas last week.
In a defensive battle, Marist failed to score in the first half while junior quarterback Brock Bagozzi left the game in the third quarter on their first drive of the second half, stifling the offense to a 10-3 loss to the Bulldogs.
While Marist held the Bulldogs to two scores, neither Bagozzi nor backup redshirt sophomore quarterback Logan Brabham got the Red Foxes into the red zone, and failed to tie the game on the final possession at the goal line.
“We need to finish better in the red zone,” said head coach Jim Parady. “We had to get the ball over the 50 a bunch of times and you know, we need to for momentum purposes and scoreboard purposes.”
Despite turnover troubles, junior quarterback Brock Bagozzi has taken steps forward as a passer, fourth in the PFL in passing yards this season with dual-threat athleticism, going 18-30 for 130 passing yards before exiting the game. After taking a fall in the second half, Parady told the media that the quarterback will get an X-ray and MRI later this week to assess the severity of his injury..
Along with Bagozzi’s injury, lead running back redshirt senior Amin Woods did not play against Drake today due to an ankle injury, but will “hopefully” be back next week on the road against Dayton, per Parady.
Though impressive numbers on the season, Drake’s offense stifled, held to only 205 passing yards with a Marist secondary continuing to step up despite the loss of their best defensive player earlier in the season, graduate captain linebacker Mike Arrington.
A scoreless first quarter made the matchup interesting; Drake–with the fewest sacks allowed and second best passing offense in the league–failed to get an early upper hand on the Red Foxes.
“We were able to generate a lot of pressure which made them uncomfortable,” said junior linebacker Tyler Ruscher. “He was kind of just throwing off his back foot, so just not giving them enough time to get settled and [we] made it close.”
“We mix our coverages and so with that, I think that we were able to kind of confuse them at certain points,” said Parady.
Immediately to kick off the second quarter, the Bulldogs proved their offensive presence merely got delayed. On a third-and-9 yard try, senior quarterback Luke Bailey aired out a deep ball to sophomore wide receiver Mitchell January, contorting his body around to secure the ball and staying just in bounds to get Drake their first big play of the day.
Two plays later, Bailey showed out with time to spare in the pocket, resulting in a perfect over the shoulder lob in the back-left corner of the end zone to senior wideout Trey Radocha for a 7-0 lead.
Finally, a big play for Marist resulted when Bagozzi stayed rigid in the pocket, taking a big hit when throwing a lob to redshirt junior receiver Matt Stianche, placing the ball out of the secondary’s reach to get near the redzone. But, forced with another fourth-and-9 yard look, the Foxes turned it over on downs for the second time in the half.
The final minute of the half resulted in pandemonium. Towards the back of the endzone, the Drake defensive line charged at Bagozzi, forcing a fumble and giving the Bulldogs an opportunity to get up two scores at half.
Pushing to the goal line, head coach Todd Stepsis’s offense opted for a quarterback sneak, but the ball slipped out of his hands, recovered by graduate safety Kyle Coffindaffer. A defense reliant on turnovers and first in the conference in fumble recoveries kept the Red Foxes alive going into the second half.
Second-half adjustments from offensive coordinator Casey Tosches instilled trust in his captain quarterback, who took commands of Marist’s first efficient drive down field. Using Stianche as the main read, the offensive line improved protection and gave Bagozzi time to test his arm talent, with an 18-play drive that burned most of the third quarter time.
In a third down rush on the right side, Bagozzi took a hard fall, unable to get up immediately after the hard tackle. Trainers rushed to the downed quarterback, needing help off the field to leave the game, slamming the medical bench in frustration.
The Alumni weekend-buzz in the stadium went silent; the quarterback keeping Marist in good field position on offense appeared hurt as the Red Foxes kicked a field goal to get their first score of the contest.
After the Marist defense forced a struggling Bulldogs offense to another fourth-down halt, senior backup Logan Brabham entered the game for the sidelined Bagozzi. The lefty slinger played in four previous games, mostly in dead time, this time being tasked with sparking any offensive momentum for the Red Foxes down 7-3 in the fourth quarter.
Using his legs and a short passing scheme, the Red Foxes once again got to the red zone, but a misfire from Brabham landed in the hands of senior defensive back Ethan Zagar, preventing Marist to get closer to the Bulldogs small lead.
Drake had been out of the end zone since the second quarter, but needing any hope for an offensive score, the Bulldogs sent out their immaculate kicker Shane Dunning, who was a perfect 10-10 on the year before attempting the yard field goal at Tenney Stadium.
Barely getting over the crossbar, the ball went straight through the uprights, giving the Bulldogs a seven point lead after the 53 yard field goal with five minutes remaining.
Brabham was once again tasked to lead the Red Fox offense down field. The quarterback’s strong arm slotted throws down the middle of the field with ease.
On a fourth-and-4 pressure situation, he put his body on the line and charged towards the first-down marker for the first fourth-down conversion of the day for either team.
A couple of snap throws later and a fourth-and-2 run completion from Shannon, and the Red Foxes were three yards away from tying the game.
Forcing another fourth down at the end zone, Marist had one play to change the tide. Looking for lead receiver Stianche–who finished with eight receptions for 99 yards today–senior linebacker Jacob Thompson got a hand in to break it up, taking a bow and ending a defensive showcase from the Bulldogs.
Though out of contention for the top PFL spot, the end goal for Parady’s team is to get five conference wins on the season, which they’ll try to secure in their final conference game on the road against Dayton next Saturday at 1 p.m.
Edited by Jimmy Tsiantoulas
Graphic by Gavin Hard
Photo by Jaylen Rizzo