Marian ends Top ranked USF 27-game streak!

by | Sep 30, 2018 | Featured, Football Blogs, Headlines, RRSN News | 0 comments

FORT WAYNE, Ind. – The No. 1-ranked St. Francis football team had not lost in 27-straight games, but that all came to an end Saturday night in Fort Wayne as sixth-ranked Marian defeated the Cougars 37-28 at Bishop D’Arcy Stadium. Marian is 4-0 with the win and 1-0 in the MSFA Mideast League.

The night started poorly for the Knights as the Cougars ran the opening kickoff back 90 yards to the Marian nine yard line. The Knights’ defense held firm on 3rd-and-1 at the one yard line, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after the play gave the Cougars a first down and USF scored on the next play to make it 7-0.

The rest of the quarter was filled with punts as neither team’s offense was able to get anything going. Marian’s defense was all over St. Francis and had three sacks in the quarter. Marian held St. Francis to just 16 yards of offense, but three penalties added up to 33 yards and a St. Francis drive late in the first quarter ended with a touchdown early in the second quarter. Matt Crable found Rocky James in the back of the end zone for a three-yard TD pass to double the Cougars’ lead.

Marian got on the board with 8:54 to play in the half when Tristen Tonte rumbled in from three yards out. Tonte ran right, took a hit and ran over a pair of Cougar defenders as he crossed the goal line. The extra point was no good and kept Marian down by eight.

Perhaps inspired by the touchdown, Marian’s offense started to click. On the next drive, Ethan Darter found Brandon Dillon for a pair of catches to move the chains and Darter then hit Greg Miller, Jr. for another first down. Another unsportsmanlike conduct penalty set the drive back 15 yards, but Darter responded with a 27-yard completion to Johnny William over the middle with two minutes remaining in the half. Two plays later, Wesley Cook tip-toed down the sideline from 12 yards out and got in the end zone for the score. Matt Plesac converted the extra point and Marian went to the half down 14-13 after the 13 play, 88 yard drive that took 5:18 off the clock.

Marian’s defense was electric in the first half, allowing just 45 total yards and only 19 through the air. St. Francis had the ball for only 12:25 in the first half and went 0-for-5 on third down attempts. However, both times St. Francis scored the drive lasted less than 2:15. The first score needed just four plays for nine yards and the second needed four plays for 17.

The Knights started the second half with a bang and took the lead with a score early in the quarter. After the opening drive stalled, Marian punted the ball away. USF called for a fair catch, but dropped the ball and Joey Floccari pounced on it for the Knights. That gave Marian the ball deep in Cougar territory and Charles Salary turned the St. Francis mistake into six points with a 14-yard touchdown run.

The 20-14 lead didn’t last long though as Marian fumbled the ball away on the following drive. St. Francis scooped the ball up and ran 41 yards to the end zone to retake the lead, 21-20. Darter and the Knights went to work on another successful drive though, and regained the lead with 5:06 to play in the quarter on a 16 yard touchdown pass to Mykelti Armstrong.

The six-point lead held through the remainder of the quarter and the Knights added on to it early in the fourth when Darter found Miller for a score through the air. St. Francis responded with a touchdown of their own to make it 34-28 with just over six minutes to play. However, the Cougars were unable to slow down Marian’s ground game as Salary bulldozed over USF on the ensuing drive and wound the clock down. Plesac put the finishing touches on the win with under 10 seconds to play when he converted a field goal to put himself atop the Marian record books for career field goals made.

St. Francis had not lost a game since 2016 when then No. 1-ranked Marian defeated No. 2 St. Francis at Bishop D’Arcy Stadium in early October. On Saturday night, the Knights beat the Cougars on their home field again. Marian’s defense was impressive, holding the Cougars to just 140 yards of total offense. The Knights forced a fumble and limited St. Francis to just 72 yards through the air. Nickai Poyser had six tackles for the Knights, while Mac Dutra had five and Jalen McIntyre and Ryley Pease chipped in with four. The defense held St. Francis to 1-of-8 on third down.

Offensively, Darter finished 16-for-23 with 167 yards and two touchdowns, while Johnny William led all receivers with six catches and 65 yards. Dillon finished with 50 yards and four catches, while Miller had three for 22 and Armstrong had two for 21. Salary ran wild over the Cougars, carrying the ball 35 times for 213 yards. It’s the first time a Marian running back has run for over 200 yards since Tevin Lake did so in October 2012. As a team, Marian ran for 313 yards, which marked the first time the Knights had surpassed the 300 yard mark in a single game this season.

It’s the third time in Marian history that the Knights have knocked off the No. 1 ranked team and first time since beating No. 1 Grand View in 2014. The Knights are now 7-3 in the last 10 games against St. Francis.

Marian will be back on the road next Saturday at St. Ambrose. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. ET in Davenport, Iowa.

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