Brother Rice picked up their first loss of the season on Friday, bowing to top-ranked Marist 49-35. As the Marist student section stormed Gary Little Stadium in victory, Crusader fans reminisced about last year’s stunning OT win at Marist, when they also stormed their opponents’ field in celebration.
As expected, fans from both schools packed the stadium, as the all-male, orange-faced Crusader Crazies battled the co-ed Redhawk Rowdies from opposite areas. Police security manned the field entrances to assure that things would not get too out-of-hand. The intensity from both squads was sky-high at the opening kickoff as Rice received.
At the game’s start, emotions were high, and both teams appeared to let it affect them. Each team’s first two possessions ended with punts, as players from both sides settled in to the wild atmosphere surrounding them
At last, Rice grabbed the early momentum as QB Matt Page connected with receiver Chris Rozell, who booked it 84 yards to the end zone, sending the Crazies into a frenzy. Unfortunately for Rice, that would be their only lead of the game, and their offense suffered from a long scoring drought that lasted well into the third quarter.
Following Rice’s early score, Marist embarked on a 42-0 scoring, including a 28-7 halftime advantage. Marist’s offense during this stretch was led primarily by QB Ian Woodworth and running back Peter Andreotti. For the game, Woodworth threw two touchdown receptions, and Andreotti rushed for 199 yards and two TDs as well. Unorthodoxly, Marist also managed two defensive touchdowns; one scored as the result of a blocked punt, and the other scored as a result of a fumble.
Offensively, the Crusaders never really found a rhythm, as evidenced by their nine punt attempts. The Redhawk defensive line played a major role in this, sacking Page six times, and pressuring him into quick throws on many other occasions. Page, however, kept a positive attitude. With the game decided in the middle of the fourth quarter, he stated, “All you can do is have fun right now.”
Indeed, the best way for the Crusaders to look at this game is as a building block. The better acquainted Brother Rice players become with big games against tough competition, the more comfortable they will feel and the better they will be able to perform.
Rice’s offense did come on late, reaching the end zone on each of their final four possessions. Rozell led the team with two touchdown receptions, while receivers Malik Moody, Luke Mueller, and running back Marcus Jones added one TD each to conclude the Crusaders’ scoring.
Though the game, perhaps, carried with it the significance of the state championship in the eyes of many fans, the players and the coaches from both sides recognize that this was only the second game of a long and grinding regular season. Next week, Marist looks to remain undefeated at Nazareth Academy, while the Crusaders look to bounce back at Bishop McNamara. Though neither game will have anything close to the atmosphere on Friday, every game counts in the state playoff race.