What started as a tough night ended with all smiles for the slew of Marion fans that turned out for the finale on a cold evening. The Warrior faithful were treated to a pair of fantastic touchdown catches by Chase Carlson in the waning moments.
The senior split end outran the Swather coverage and timed his leap perfectly, coming down with the ball 3 yards deep in the end zone along the Warrior sideline.
Charlie Holub battered home the 2-point conversion run, and Marion had its first points of the night 20 seconds into the fourth quarter.
A false start on third-and-short brought the Swather punter into the game for only the second time. The snap sailed over his head, putting the Warriors back in business with 3:50 to go.
After runs by Sheldon Boone and Mitchel Leppke put Marion first-and-10 at the 20-yard line, Leppke uncorked a high throw toward Justin Heidebrecht, who was running along the goal line.
The pass sailed high over Heidebrecht’s head, and Carlson came across unmarked from the right sideline, diving a fraction too late to make the grab.
On the next play, Carlson lined up inside of Heidebrecht, and the receivers crossed paths, with Carlson heading to the front right corner of the end zone.
A Swather defensive back was in the area, but Carlson used excellent position and timing to make his second touchdown catch of the evening.
Senior kicker Pascal Otterbach came on for the point-after and banged it high and straight and true, marking the final score at 42-15.
Three quarters earlier, Hesston took the opening kickoff and ran four plays before Michael Janzen unloaded a 52-yard spiral to Lee Voth-Gaeddert for a 7-0 lead.
Marion fumbled three plays into its first possession, giving Hesston first-and-10 at the Warrior 39. A 38-yard run down the Hesston sideline by Rob Moore set up a 1-yard plunge with 7:45 to go. Voth-Gaeddert’s kick made the score 14-0.
After Marion ran seven plays and punted, Moore returned the kick to the Hesston 36. Janzen broke a 14-yard run on first down to cross into Warrior territory. The Swathers scored six seconds into the second quarter, making it 21-0 on a 7-yard pass from Janzen to Voth-Gaeddert.
Marion ran four plays and punted, with Luke Gordon’s high-arcing kick taking the unluckiest possible bounce to set Hesston up with good field position again.
Five plays later, Voth-Gaeddert took a reverse handoff and sprinted 20 yards around the left end of the Warrior line for the 28-0 tally.
Michael Petrocci broke a 32-yard touchdown run after the Warriors went 3-and-out at 6:01. Starting at the Hesston 45, Petrocci carried four times in a row, breaking loose and scoring with 4:22 left.
Another Marion 3-and-out led to a 17-yard touchdown run by Landon Unruh, making it 42-0 with six seconds left in the first half.
For the game, Janzen completed two of three passes—and both completions went for scores. Eight runners carried the ball for Hesston, totaling 285 yards and four touchdowns on 36 attempts, almost all of which came before halftime.
It was a markedly different game in the second half, both because of the running clock and because the Warriors were by far the more tenacious team.
Marion came out throwing, with Leppke completing a 9-yard pass to Carlson before unwinding a long spiral in Carlson’s direction.
The pass was intercepted, but the Marion defense stifled the Swathers on three straight plays to set up Hesston’s first punt with 4:15 left in the third.
Carlson’s first touchdown went for 18 yards and was the eighth play of the ensuing drive.
The Warrior defense shut down the Hesston subs in their last appearance of the season.
Carlson’s second touchdown, a 20-yarder, was Marion’s final play of the year on offense. The game ended with the Warrior special teams throwing a Swather kick returner to the turf.
Warrior runners totaled 26 carries for 93 yards, led by 38 yards on nine tries from Drew Maddox. Leppke carried nine times for 29 yards, and Boone seven times for 23 yards.
Carlson caught four passes for 56 yards.
After a 4-2 start, Marion finished the season at 4-5. Hesston wrapped up the regular season with a perfect 9-0 mark. The Swathers opened bi-district play Tuesday against fellow MCAA foe Sterling (5-4).