Marcus Jones and the rest of Brother Rice’s senior class endured consecutive lopsided losses to archrival Marist, 49-35 in 2012 and 55-14 in ’13.
Jones and the Crusaders, though, earned some redemption Friday night, upending a relentless Marist squad 27-20.
This marked the 35th meeting between the two programs, with Rice taking an 18-17 all-times lead in the series.
“I’ve been hungry since my sophomore year,” Jones said. “They’ve pretty much blew us out. This feels great.”
Jones rushed for 93 yards and three touchdowns to lead a Rice offense that started strong but sputtered in the second half.
The Crusaders (1-1) didn’t waste any time jumping on the scoreboard, much to the delight of an overflow crowd that withstood an at times pouring rain, which resulted in a 75-minute delay.
The Crusaders rewarded their fans’ loyalty on the game’s first series. Rice drove 65 yards, with quarterback Alex Alarcon (12-of-28, 168 yards, 3 interceptus) connecting with Jones on a 38-yard pass and Jones producing a 17-yard run.
Five plays later, Alarcon busted in from 1-yard out for a 6-0 lead at 9:36 of the first quarter. The 2-point conversion try failed.
“We saw some openings and we took advantage,” Jones said.
Marist (1-1), however, evened the score at 6 with 2:19 remaining in the first quarter when Jawill Aldridge scored practically untouched from 30 yards. The RedHawks’ point-after kick was no good.
The Crusaders closed out the first half in impressive fashion as Jones whisked in from 16 yards out at 9:08 of second quarter for a 13-7 lead after the first of three point-after kicks by Matt Pikowski.
A nine-play, 46-yard drive on Rice’s ensuing possession, capped by a 17-yard run by Jones, upped the advantage to 20-6 advantage with 4:02 left in the opening half.
“It’s a great rivalry,” Rice coach Brian Badke said. “We’re very happy. A win is a win.”
The RedHawks offense suffered a serious blow midway through the second quarter when Aldridge, who had rushed for 64 yards on 10 carries, limped off the field after being tackled and didn’t return.
Jones added a 1-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to increase the Crusaders’ lead to 27-6.
Rice’s offensive line of Anthony Kudra, Pat Hosty, Alex Negoski, Manny Bravo and Dan Berry was steady, consistently providing holes for the running game to flourish and time for Alarcon to find a receiver.
The Crusaders defense, led by Mike McGinley, Robert Woods, Iben King and Steven Robinson, did an outstanding job of pressuring Marist quarterback Brendan Skalitzky.
Skalitzky and the RedHawks made a late charge in the fourth quarter. Skalitzky hit McCullough on a 25-yard scoring strike to cut the gap to 27-13 after Kyle Gambla’s PAT with 4:59 to go.
Skalitzky (21-of-35, 234 yards) later scrambled in from 12 yards to make it 27-20 with 29.5 seconds remaining. Marist attempted an onside kick, but the Crusaders recovered.