Toreros slay Red Foxes to close in on FCS bid, 27-3
Poughkeepsie, NY – The Toreros of the University of San Diego traveled 2,800 miles across the country to vanquish conference foe Marist, 27-3, to move one step closer to an FCS bid. The Toreros took advantage of questionable Red Fox defensive calls and the Red Fox offensive strategy that resembled that of a flag football team. Collegefootballfan.com enjoyed the tailgating before and after the game with Guest Game analyst Mike Pitch, the Braun family and friends, and the two leading Red Fox defenders after the game – LBs Ruben Avalos (11 tackles) and Jimmy Braun (7 tackles) , senior team captain who played HS football for our local Lenape Valley Patriots (Stanhope, NJ). The Toreros (7-1,5-0) ventured into Poughkeepsie tied for first place with Marist (4-4, 4-1) to do battle as the only other remaining undefeated team in conference play before this contest.
San Diego started the scoring right away driving 75 yards on their first possession. QB Anthony Lawrence connected with TE Ross Dwelley for a nine-yard TD pass. QB Mike White got the Red Foxes rolling onto the USD one for a first and goal. However, LB Marcus Vaivao jarred the ball loose from Marcellus Calhoun, and the Toreros took over from there. An INT by S Wes Beans stopped the USD drive, but the Toreros headed into the second period with the ball on the move once again.
PK Patrick Murray booted a 43-yard FG to give the visitors a 10-0 lead. The next Marist drive ended short on a fourth and ten at the USD 29. GGA Mike Pitch noted Marist could move the ball effectively until they got within scoring range. The Toreros did not encounter that problem. Their next possession ended with Murray booting another. His three-pointer came from 26 yards away to propel USD to a 13-0 led. The Marist Red Foxes needed to get some points by sustaining drives nearing the end zone. This time they drove 62 yards to the Torero six. However, two incompletions and a three-yard sack resulted in a 27-yard FG by PK Mike Maccarone. Marist trailed at halftime, 13-3.
Today’s tailgate was great! My Bloody Mary’s started the juices flowing on a cool Saturday morning that would eventually warm up by game time. Mike brought burgers and sausages he grilled to perfection with a choice of cheeses. Don Braun was set up already when we got there with his grill fired up for dogs and burgers. The beers cooled on ice. We met Jim and Theresa Dixon whose son Grant is a Frosh LB for the Red Foxes. Last season, he led Roxbury (NJ) High School to the Group IV playoffs as a QB. The team finished 8-2 as Grant threw for 18 TDS and no INTs. Several Marist fans at the game contended many players seemed to be playing positions not considered their strongest. Hopefully, Grant will get the opportunity to use his QB skills in upcoming years for the Red Foxes so we can return to see what he can do.
One former Red Fox who wasn’t playing out of position evidently is former PK Jason Myers. He was honored at Tenney Stadium this day as one of two former Marist players now in the NFL. Myers is currently the PK for the Jacksonville Jaguars. The other player is DE Terrence Fede of the Miami Dolphins. Member teams of the Pioneer League are non-scholarship FCS schools. This will be the fourth year that the League champs receive an automatic FCS bid to the post season playoffs. Like these two teams, other members are located across the country and only compete with one another in football. Other schools reside in Florida, Indiana, Nebraska, North Carolina, and Ohio among others. It’s truly the most diversely spread out non-FBS conference in the NCAA.
With the late score in the first half by Marist, we hoped to see now that they could eventually mount some scoring drives into the end zone to challenge the Toreros for the FCS bid. We always hope that we have local playoff options to attend after the regular season comes to an abrupt end. The Red Foxes got off to a disappointing start. A penalty and three incompletions by White resulted in a punt from the 36. USD could not take advantage. Murray’s 39-yard attempt failed. Marist never sustained any drives in the third period. White (12 of 34, one INT, 175 yards) suffered sacks five times and threw 12 straight incompletions in the third as he threw long on every down. The only first down recorded was for an interference penalty by the Toreros. The “game plan” called for a bomb on every play, and the Torero defense seemed to have this figured as they rushed now on every down. Rushing yards for Marist now only came on White’s scrambles to escape pressure. The offense was sloppy. Handoffs to runners were a forgone conclusion at this point of the game. The rest of the backfield carried only seven times for seven yards, mostly in the early phases of the game.
San Diego was on the move starting from its 15 heading into the final period but still up by only 10 despite the lack of an effective Red Fox offensive game plan. Third and short situations caught the Marist defense on a blitz from the secondary on several occasions to get first downs to wide open receivers out to the backfield. On a third and 22, Lawrence (21 of 35 for 195 yards, 1 TD/1INT) hit WR Brian Riley near the left sideline for a 41-yard gain to the Marist 26. RB Jonah Hodges did the bulk of the leg work from there eventually scoring on a seven-yard run to give USD a 20-3 advantage. The next Red Fox possession ended on the next play with S Ray Clark’s INT. The Toreros used up about five minutes on the clock before Hodges’ fumble was recovered by Marist’s Beans at the 18. Three White passes fell incomplete, but two were negated by interference. On first and ten at the 48, Torero LB Jacob Bergstrom sacked White and recovered his fumble at the Marist 42. A 15-yard pass to Dwelley put USD on the one where Hodges (33 carries for 175 yards, 2 TDs, 1 fumble) took it over for the final score of 27-3 with 2:17 left.
The Toreros celebrated with a few hundred fans that followed them to Poughkeepsie. They would be heading home soon in first place at the top of the Pioneer League all by themselves with a 6-0 mark. Next week, their non-conference game features a team that is not even of US vintage. They will be hosting Universidad De Las Americas located in Mexico. They will finish their Pioneer League slate with Stetson (4-4, 2-3) and Campbell (3-4,1-3). The Red Foxes travel to Stetson next before hosting Dayton (7-2,5-1) and finishing up at Jacksonville (4-3,3-1). Marist has its work cut out and they or Dayton have to hope for a major upset over the Toreros in the last two weeks if they want any consideration for the conference FCS bid.
We at Collegefootballfan.com have a two-fer next weekend. On Friday night, we will be an East Hartford, Connecticut for a 7 pm game between the Temple Owls (6-3,4-1) visiting the UConn Huskies (3-6, 1-5) In an American Athletic East clash. Then on Saturday at noon, we will find ourselves at West Point, NY to see the Air Force Academy Falcons (5-3,1-0) battle Army West Point (5-3,0-0) for the second leg of the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy. This should be a pretty even match-up for the first time in years. However, we expect the Air Force to win with what it has that Army doesn’t – air supremacy. Air Force will go to the air to beat the Cadets and win the C-I-C Trophy.