Marist senior Jamari Grant didn’t play football as a sophomore. Last season he was the scout team running back.
So the group of reporters waiting to talk to him after his 53-yard fourth quarter touchdown run helped the No. 7 Redhawks beat No. 5 Brother Rice 20-16 in the “Pulasi Road Super Bowl” was a little intimidating.
“This is my first time [being interviewed],” Grant warned before handling the questions as expertly as he ran for 149 yards on 18 carries. “It was my whole line [responsible for the touchdown]. I love them to death. [Brother Rice] almost had me. I felt tripped a little bit on it. I was scared.”
Grant showed impressive patience as a running back. He calmly waited for his talented line, led by Notre Dame recruit Pat Coogan, to make space.
“I learned that this year,” Grant said. “[Assistant coach Pat Fleming] taught me how to be patient. It’s hard.”
“[Grant] is really fast,” Marist coach Ron Dawczak said. “He was going a million miles an hour all the time. We had to teach him how to slow down. Now he’s showing that patience. He’s really progressed. That’s the value of being a scout team running back. It’s a thankless role but he gained so much experience and he showed what he learned last year.”
Grant’s touchdown helped turn the tide after Brother Rice took a 16-14 lead late in the third quarter when Crusaders junior Mike Fahy tackled a Marist running back for a safety.
“Don’t ever get too high or too low,” Marist quarterback Dontrell Jackson Jr. said. “Our saying is ‘next play best play’ we just try to make the most out of every opportunity.”
The visiting Crusaders (1-1) had an opportunity to win the game in the final minutes. Brother Rice had the ball on its own 27 with 2:37 to play but the Redhawks ‘defense held strong. Jimmy Rolder, who caught a six-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter, knocked down Jack Lausch’s pass on fourth down to seal the win.
“I give all the credit to our senior leadership,” Dawczak said. “Looking in their eyes [after the safety] I could see it didn’t faze them. It would have been easy for the guys to put their heads down but they continued to fight. They believed we were going to fight, scratch, claw, whatever they needed to do to get this win.”
Jackson, a Coastal Carolina recruit, was 9-for-20 for 101 yards and two touchdowns. Senior Collin McGlynn had four catches for 39 yards and Tim Warr caught a 25-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter for the Redhawks.
Lausch was 19-for-33 for 139 yards and one touchdown, a seven-yard pass to Toledo recruit Willie Shaw.
The Crusaders beat Providence last week. The challenges keep stacking up for Brother Rice, which faces No. 1 Loyola on Thursday.
Marist (2-0) beat Notre Dame last week and faces No. 2 Mount Carmel at home next week.
“This gives us a ton of momentum and shows our true character,” Jackson said. “We’re gonna fight for 48 minutes every game. We just kept our composure and kept on going.”