A familiar and very welcome sight greeted Marion football fans tonight as the Warriors took on Bennington at home – a hyped-up Marion team that put a “W” on the scoreboard. After the past two weeks’ lackluster defeats, fans might be excused for fearing the Warriors had lost their touch this season. But Marion was back in good form tonight, rushing to a 20-0 victory on the shoulders of junior quarterback Taylor Heidebrecht, who had 48 and 74-yard runs for two touchdowns on his way to 186 yards on 16 attempts on the ground.
After stopping Bennington’s drive to the Marion 40 on the first possession of the game, the Warriors recovered a fourth-down fumble to give them the ball at their 40-yard line. Then Heidebrecht brought it to the Bulldogs, bursting free on Marion’s first down to run for Marion’s first touchdown two minutes into the game. An extra point from Grif Case made it a quick 7-0.
Marion scored again with 1:21 left in the first quarter, driving into Bennington territory from midfield. The drive looked in jeopardy when a pass fell incomplete on a fourth-and-four, but a holding penalty moved the Warriors to near the Bennington 24-yard line for a first down. On fourth down with three yards to go, senior running back Brody Carroll came through for Marion, diving into the end zone for the score. A Case extra point gave Marion a 14-0 lead.
In a scoreless second quarter, Bennington finally swung the momentum their way as the clock ticked down. They took possession at midfield with just 15 seconds to play, but two quick passes for first downs brought them to the Marion 17-yard line. But the Marion defense, which put up a fight all night, got the stop and allowed the Warriors to end the half with a 14-point margin.
Bennington took over at their 20 on the second possession of the half, after a pass to Warrior senior receiver Jacob Harper was picked off in the end zone on fourth down, and converted on the quarterback sneak on fourth-and-three to gain some momentum. After a flurry of penalties, a flag-storm that continued through the rest of the half, the Bulldogs moved the ball to the Marion 43-yard line. But junior linebacker John Nordquist earned back-to-back sacks for losses to make it fourth-and-30 for Bennington and halt the drive.
Twice Marion would drive deep into Bulldog territory, only to give up the score on a fumble and downs, before Heidebrecht took it to the house on a 74-yard run for a touchdown with 3:47 remaining in the ball game. Case’ kick was blocked, resulting in the final score of 20-0.
From there on the Warrior defense took over to ensure Marion walked away with their first win of the season, improving to 1-2.
Despite struggling with the passing game, making just one 12-yard completion to Harper, Heidebrecht proved to be Marion’s main offensive threat. Backing him up was Carroll, who recorded 108 yards on 23 attempts.
Marion is scheduled to travel to Inman this upcoming Friday for a road match-up.