Written by AO Friday, 19 September 2008 16:46
The Marion Warriors celebrated homecoming with a 21-14 win over Nickerson Friday, gashing the Panthers for 31 rushing yards and a touchdown with an 11-play series out of the gate. Nickerson received the opening kickoff and fumbled the ball away on its third play from scrimmage, with Brad Klenda recovering the loose ball. The Warriors then converted on fourth-and-1 twice, setting the stage for a 4-yard scamper by Mitchell Leppke 6:20 into the contest. Nickerson repaid Marion in kind at the end of the quarter, turning a fumble into a 9-play series that culminated in a 1-yard plunge by Hector Rodriguez as time expired on the first frame.
Sheldon Boone broke a 29-yard run on the second play of the second quarter, and Marion revved up a 9-play series that covered 68 yards and ended with Leppke scooting 9 yards to score the 14-7 touchdown. Leppke scored again with 22 seconds left in the half, capping off drive that began at the Marion 27 and was interrupted by an exchange of fumbles deep in Nickerson territory. On first-and-10 at the Panther 18, Boone rumbled down the 5-yard line but lost the ball with 1:26 left. But the defense stifled Nickerson on third-and-3, forcing a fumble that Boone dove on at the Panther 10. Boone blasted a 9-yard run on the next play, setting up Leppke's keeper dive that made it 21-7.
Marion lept out of the gate in the second half, with Tylor Neil racing 58 yards on the kickoff return. But the Warriors ran four plays, lost yardage, and had to punt 1:26 into the third quarter. Nickerson seized the momentum at that point, scoring on a 64-yard toss sweep around the left flank by Weston Cottrell to cut it to 21-14. The Panthers attempted an onside kick, which was handled by Eric Vogel near midfield. But the solid field position did not translate into points for Marion, as the drive stalled at the Nickerson 18.
Marion mounted another extended drive in the fourth quarter, marching down to the Nickerson 17 before backpedaling to the 47 on penalties which included two personal fouls. The Warriors punted and Nickerson sought the tying score on the drive that ensued from their own 25, expending two timeouts during a 27-second span. After Marion stuffed the Panthers on third-and-4, Nickerson faked the punt, with kicker Wayne Ratley escaping containment to convert for the first down. But Marion snuffed out the drive on a 7-yard sack on third down followed by a tackle for no gain with 3:47 to go.
Boone then closed the contest with an 11-yard run on third-and-4, forcing Nickerson's final timeout with 1:21 remaining. Four plays and one last first down let Leppke sap the rest of the clock on a victory formation kneel.