Late field goal block leads Marion to 14-13 victory

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Merion?premiered in the Heart of America with a win, thanks in part to a late special teams play.?

With .7 seconds left in the defensive struggle between Marion and Inman, lthe visiting Teutons lined up for a field goal from the Marion four-yard line, trailing by a point. However, the Teutons would not come away with the last second victory Friday in Marion as Warriors? linebacker Conner Thierolf blocked the field goal try, ending the game 14-13.

?It was awesome,? said the senior. ?I just shot the ?A? gap and got to the kick.?

?Thierolf got in there and got his big paw on the football,? said defensive coordinator Jerry Smith.

Meeting Thierolf at the kicker were David Helmer and Adam Cope, even though the entire team had never executed a field goal block in practice or a game.

?That was all the kids,? said coach Grant Thierolf. ?We haven?t worked on a field goal block situation all season.?

The last second field goal try was set up by a four-play series in which Inman drove 45 yards in 23.7 seconds.

After a Luke Ropp kick off return to the Marion 49 yard line, Inman quarterback Jason Friesen found Ropp for a 19-yard completion to the Warrior 30-yard line. The next play ran seven seconds off the clock as Dakin Ledford forced an incomplete pass thrown by Friesen while in the junior defensive lineman?s clutches.

With 10.3 seconds remaining, Friesen hit Issac Sisson, who skirted out of bounds at the Marion four with three second remaining. Inman spiked the ball on the next play to line up for the field goal attempt.

The final possession for Inman was the first time it had trailed in the game. The Warriors took the one-point advantage courtesy of a 15-play 60-yard drive and two-point conversion run that ate up 7:03 of the final 7:38.

The Warriors gave the ball to Les Riggs who carried the ball all 15 times to the right side.

?It was called Les Riggs run right,? said coach Thierolf. ?We had Ledford and Adam Cope on that right side. They did a great job of blocking.?

Facing three third downs on the drive, the senior running back picked up three yards on third and two from the Inman 42, one yard on third and inches from the Inman 18 and six yards on third and five from the Inman 11-yard line with under a minute to play.

The final third down conversion set up the final touchdown with Riggs diving his way to the one-yard line on first and goal and hammering his way through the right side on second down from one yard out with 35 seconds remaining.

Needing the two point conversion to take the lead, Riggs once again came through, scoring on a sweep play to the right. Riggs appeared pinned at the sideline but got a block on the edge, found a lane and slipped into the end zone from four yards out to take a 14-13 advantage?

?They told me they were going to put it on my shoulders,? said Riggs. ?I just ran aggressively and got some good blocking.?

With the final drive being the most productive offensively for the Warriors, the defense stepped up in key situations.

Late in the third quarter, Inman marched 79-yards to line up at with first and goal at the one-yard line.

On first down, Inman handed off to Ropp for no gain.

Second down, incomplete pass. No gain.

Third down, Ropp hand off, no gain.

Fourth down, Ropp reached the end zone on a sweep play to the right, but was called back on an illegal block penalty.

Fourth and goal from the 11-yard line, Friessen attempts a short pass over the middle that falls incomplete. Turn over on downs.

The ensuing Marion possession netted nine yards on three plays and ended on fourth and one from the Warrior twenty with a bad center, quarterback exchange which Inman recovered with 35.3 seconds left to play in the third quarter.

Friesen extended the Teutons lead to 13-6 with a 20-yard touchdown run on the second play after the turnover.

Following a 60-yard touchdown run by Ropp and a stalled Marion drive, the Warrior defense answered with an interception return for its first points of the game.

Early in the first quarter, Inman started its second possession from its own 16-yard line after a 46-yard punt by Dillon Richmond. Facing third and seven, Friesen lofted a pass down the sideline. Jordan Versch snatched the errant pass at the Inman?40 yard-line and scampered to the end zone.

The Versch touchdown moved Marion to within one at 7-6 with 7:23 to play in the first quarter after the failed two-point conversion.

Marion ran for 187 yards of total offense. Les Riggs led the Warriors with 157 yards on 29 carries. Versch had three carries for 21 yards.

For Inman, Ropp led all rushers with 187 yards on 24 carries. Friesen added 44 yards on 12 carries.

Marion (2-0, 1-0) will host Bennington (0-2, 0-2) Friday. Bennington fell to Sedgwick 48-0 Friday.

Heart of America results

Marion 14, Inman 13

Sedgwick 48, Bennington 0

Remington 67, Moundridge 6

Hutch Trinity 55, Ell Saline 16

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