Valparaiso racked up a season-high 358 yards of total offense, but could not convert them into points on Saturday afternoon, falling to Marist 51-7 at Brown Field.
The Crusaders had season highs with 219 yards through the air and 139 yards on the ground, but turned the ball over four times and the defense allowed the Red Foxes to rack up 550 yards of total offense.
“It comes down to mental toughness,” head coach Dale Carlson said after the game. “We have to overcome adversity and we’re just not doing it.”
Marist jumped on top with its opening drive of the game. Valpo’s defense appeared to force the Red Foxes into a three-and-out, however a roughing the punter penalty kept the drive alive. Jason Myers capped the 12-play, six-minute drive with a 28-yard field goal and the Red Foxes had an early 3-0 lead.
A 55-yard punt return following Valpo’s first series set Marist up at the Crusader 34 yard line and two plays later Calvin McCoy scored on a 16-yard touchdown run, giving Marist a 10-0 lead.
Ryan Dinnebeil’s one-yard touchdown with 8:58 to play in the second quarter extended the Marist lead to 17 points before Valpo put together a drive of its own. Marching 95 yards in 14 plays, Nate Goergen (Golden, Colo./Golden H.S.) found Antonio Lovelace (Akron, Ohio/Buchtel H.S.) on the left side for a 13-yard scoring strike, pulling the Crusaders within 17-7 with just 50 seconds to play before intermission.
However, Marist brought the ensuing kickoff back out to the Red Foxes’ 44 yard line and four plays later the visitors had another touchdown on the board as Tommy Reilly connected with Chris Ortner from eight yards out with just 17 seconds remaining, and Marist took a 24-7 lead into the locker room.
“We get back into the game with that touchdown and then don’t cover a kick,” Carlson said. “Our coverage teams are just not getting it done. Seventeen of their 24 first half points were a result of our special teams.”
The Red Foxes added two touchdowns within 15 seconds late in the third quarter, taking advantage of a Crusader interception. Marist added two more touchdowns in the fourth to cap the scoring.
Goergen finished the game connecting on 25-of-42 passes for 205 yards and the touchdown while Bobby Wysocki (Calumet City, Ill./Thornwood H.S.) led the ground attack with 14 carries for 45 yards. Sean McCarty (Waukesha, Wis./West H.S.) made six catches for 75 yards while Kevin Becker (Cincinnati, Ohio/Anderson H.S.) had six grabs for a career-high 64 yards.
Reilly led Marist (2-3, 1-2 PFL) through the air, completing 12-of-23 passes for 235 yards and two touchdowns. Atiq Lucas had eight carries for 113 yards and a score rushing as the Red Foxes finished the game with 296 yards on the ground and five touchdowns.
Valparaiso (0-6, 0-3) will remain at home next Saturday for the fourth time in five weeks as the Crusaders host Jacksonville. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Brown Field.
Game Notes: Marist has won both meetings between the two schools … Lovelace’s touchdown reception was the first of his career … punter Greg Wood (Libertyville, Ill./Libertyville H.S.) had a career long 57-yard boot.