Football rally falls short against Bucknell
For a while, it looked like Saturday night's football game between Marist and Bucknell would not be played. Severe thunderstorms struck Tenney Stadium around 5:15 p.m., threatening the home opener for the Red Foxes.
The home team ran onto the field two hours later, to the cheers of the many fans that had waited to see their players defend their home turf.
Unfortunately for the Marist faithful, they will have to wait a little longer for a home victory.
Despite some late game heroics by Chuckie Looney and the offense, the Red Foxes dropped their first home game of the 2012 season to the visiting Bison, 19-17.
"For our group of kids and for the coaching staff, I know that this [loss] is very frustrating because we really feel like we should have come out of here with a win," head coach Jim Parady said.
After only allowing 292 yards the previous week to Bryant, the Marist defense had difficulty stopping the offense of Bucknell. The Bison had 332 total yards and never trailed in the game. In addition, the visitors outmatched Marist in time of possession, 32:49 to 27:11.
Coach Parady believed that the biggest problem for the defense on Saturday was something that can easily be fixed: tackling.
"On the defensive side of the ball, tackling [was a big issue]," Parady said. "The quarterback [Wesley] broke some tackles on us, so that is something that we will have to work on."
The Marist offense put up impressive numbers, totaling 366 yards in the loss. But issues in protection and inconsistent play from the team's skill players hindered the unit's ability to perform to their highest level, according to Parady.
"We had some protection issues on the offensive side of the football, where we identified what we were supposed to do, but a few times, it was just a little bit later than we needed to do. Along with that, there were some mental mistakes by our skill kids," Parady explained.
Despite problems throughout the game, the offense did manage to pull themselves together late in the fourth quarter, setting the stage for what appeared to be an improbable comeback.
With 2:26 left to play and no timeouts left, the Red Foxes took over at their own 20-yard line, down by ten points. Looney then orchestrated a 10 play, 80-yard drive using both his arm and his legs to keep the late-game rally going for his team. In under two minutes, Looney led his team all the way down the field, concluding the drive with a beautifully thrown pass to wide receiver Matt Tralli in the back of the endzone, making the score 19-17, Bucknell, with 31 seconds remaining. Marist attempted the onside kick on the ensuing kickoff, but Bucknell would recover the ball, which bounced several times, to secure the victory.
Even though the scoreboard did not say what he and the rest of the team would have liked for it to say at the end of the game, Coach Parady was impressed with his team's focus and poise leading up to, and during, that final sequence of events.
"After [the offense] could not convert on fourth down [the previous possession], the defense comes out and gets them off the field, three and out. That was huge. Now, the offense takes over, and takes the ball down the field, and gives us an opportunity to win that football game," Parady said of the Tralli touchdown. "I think a lot of other teams, when they don't covert that fourth down, the defense would have let down, and the game would have been all over. But we still put ourselves in a position to win the game. I was very happy with the fight in the team that point."
Looney, who finished the game 25-39, for 309 yards and two touchdowns, shared the similar opinion as his coach. When he gathered his teammates in the huddle for that final drive, he told them to do one thing: believe.
"The series before that we came out and gut shut down on fourth down and the game could have been over right then," Looney said. "We could have just hung our heads but we kept fighting the whole game and we showed a lot of heart at the end. We just had to leave everything we had out on the field and we did so."
In preparation for this week, Looney explained that the team must learn from this loss and build off of the momentum they gained late in the game against Bucknell.
"We hadn't faced adversity yet as a team and we responded well. We just have to put Bucknell behind us, clean up our minor mistakes, and get better every day," Looney said.
Marist's next game will be against Ivy League for Columbia. The game will be played on the road, and kickoff is scheduled for 12:30 p.m.
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