By Mike Ferraro
POUGHKEEPSIE – The Marist football team earned a 26-23 victory over Stetson in its home and Pioneer Football League openers on Saturday.
Fifth-year senior wide receiver Anthony Olivencia caught four passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns. His second score, a 75-yard reception from red-shirt sophomore Luke Strnad with 8:52 remaining, accounted for the game’s final score.
After Stetson went three-and-out on its first series, red-shirt junior John Pierce blocked a punt that rolled out of the side of the end zone for a safety just 29 seconds into the contest.
Following the ensuing free kick, Marist took over at its own 46 and drove to the Stetson 31.
The drive culminated in a 49-yard field goal by red-shirt freshman Luke Paladino.
With 8:17 left in the first quarter, junior Mekhai Johnson burst through the left side for a 54-yard touchdown run as Marist took a 12-0 lead.
Jalen Leary’s six-yard touchdown run cut Marist’s lead to 12-7 just 1:08 later. The score came two plays after a 65-yard completion from Gaven DeFilippo to Steven Burdette.
Jonny Messina’s 20-yard field goal made the score 12-10 at the 8:42 mark of the second quarter.
With 15 seconds left in the first half, red-shirt junior safety Jack Griffith broke up a pass on 3rd-and-10 at the Marist 39. Stetson then went for it on 4th down, and Griffith recorded a sack for a loss of 16 yards, which set the Red Foxes up at the Hatters’ 45 with 10 seconds to play. Red-shirt junior quarterback Austin Day then lofted a pass to Olivencia, who caught the pass at the Stetson 7 and scampered in for a touchdown with no time left on the clock.
Marist took a 19-10 lead into the locker room.
DeFilippo’s four-yard touchdown pass to Jeremiah Nails with 8:14 left in the third quarter made the score 19-17.
With 9:53 left, Stetson’s Jamieson Craske intercepted a pass and returned it to the Marist 6. On the next play, Leary’s second touchdown of the day gave the Hatters their first lead on 23-19.
On Marist’s next drive, the Red Foxes faced a 3rd-and-10 from their own 25. Olivencia caught a pass from Strnad just past the first down marker, spun, and raced all the way to the end zone for a 75-yard touchdown.
Marist forced a punt and two loss on downs on Stetson’s final three drives.
Marist hosts Cornell on Saturday, Sept. 21 at Tenney Stadium. Kickoff is set for noon