Now 2-0, the Warriors have already matched their 2006 win total.
Leppke helped get the Warriors out of the gate in a hurry. On Marion’s first play from scrimmage, he connected with Chase Carlson for a 64-yard gain. Carlson was brought down by a desperation dive at the 2-yard line.
Hager rumbled into the end zone two plays later. The extra-point kick attempt failed, and Marion led 6-0 only 54 seconds into the contest.
“We felt like we never really got into rhythm offensively, but we still put up 350 yards of total offense,” coach Grant Thierolf said. “We had a lot of kids that came in and did a really nice job for us.”
Ellinwood punted as the first quarter ended with the score unchanged.
Adam Regnier ran for 12 yards on the second play of the second quarter, and Marion was on the move again. Hager carried five times for 36 yards to set up a 2-inch touchdown plunge by Leppke that put the Warriors up 12-0.
A 2-point conversion try came up short, but the Warriors had all the points they would need with 8:08 left in the half.
The ensuing kickoff ricocheted off an Ellinwood player’s shin into Eric Vogel’s arms, giving Marion the ball at midfield. Hager found a seam on two consecutive carries for 26 yards.
Leppke then got loose for the longest run of the night, covering 24 yards on a nifty option keeper, side-stepping the last would-be tackler at the 3-yard line and trotting into the end zone.
MHS converted the 2-point play to take a 20-0 lead with 6:34 left in the half.
To their credit, Eagles battled back in the second half. Their longest play of the night came on a gutsy fourth-and-nine reverse. Quarterback James Lyman pitched to a running back on the right flank and then handed off to wide receiver Tanner Osburn, who was headed full speed to the left.
The play went for 34 yards and set up the Eagles’ only score, an eight-yard scamper by running back Glenn Whitaker. Marion denied Whitaker the 2-point conversion and led 20-6 with 13 seconds left in the third quarter.
“Our interior run defense was outstanding, and we really shut down what they wanted to do inside,” Thierolf said. “We have to stay in our pursuit lanes better than we did.”
Hager reentered the game in the fourth quarter after sitting out most of the third frame and promptly tallied 32 yards and a touchdown on four carries. A seven-yard blast up the middle followed by a nearly identical run for the 2-point conversion provided the final score with exactly 10:00 left in the game.
Hager finished with 142 yards on 22 carries. Leppke logged 103 yards on 11 carries.
Coming—Marion (2-0) plays its first home game against Sterling (0-2) on Friday. The Warriors will look to get even after the Black Bears handed Marion a 36-0 defeat a year ago.