Marion extinguished the fire of the Halstead Dragons Tuesday, earning a 54-30 bi-district victory on Halloween night.
In the first half, Marion matched the Dragons in touchdowns scored but failed to convert its two-point attempts, trailing 16-12 at halftime. The Warriors, however, exploded for 42 second-half points to seal the victory.
Each team scored on its opening possession-Halstead on a 16-yard touchdown run six plays into the game, and Marion on a 7-yard run by Evann Heidebrecht 10 plays later-the first of four touchdowns on the night for the Warrior junior.
In the second quarter, which included three turnovers-a pair of Marion fumbles and an interception by Zachary Stuchlik-Marion took advantage of a short field after a sizeable punt return by Austin Neufeld, needing four plays to cover 38 yards. Heidebrecht scored his second touchdown of the night from 2-yards out to push Marion in front, 12-8.
Halstead, however, started its next drive in Warrior territory and punched in a 5-yard score on the 10th play to lead, 16-12, at halftime.
Momentum began to shift the Warriors’ way when Stuchlik intercepted a Dragon pass in the end zone just seconds before intermission.
Heidebrecht rushed for a 46-yard gain two plays into the third quarter, and four plays later, he crossed the goal line on a 7-yard touchdown run to push Marion in front, 18-16.
Stuchlik recovered a live ball on the ensuing kickoff, and the Warriors needed seven plays to score. Chase Stringer capped the drive with a 27-yard touchdown pass to Garrett Hoffner.
Momentum continued to shift Marion’s way when, three plays into Halstead’s next drive, Corbin Wheeler stripped the ball and Stuchlik scooped it up and ran it back for a touchdown. That made it 32-16 with 4:49 left in the period, which held through the end of the period when Marion forced a Dragon turnover on downs after a sack by Antone Vinduska on fourth down.
Stringer scored on a 3-yard touchdown run three plays into the final period, marking 26 unanswered points by Marion.
But Halstead proved it could strike quickly, needing just two plays to score thanks to a 42-yard touchdown pass. The Dragons scored again after a Marion fumble, this time on a 29-yard pass to make it a one-possession game, 38-30, with 7:08 to play.
Marion responded with a touchdown-a 27-yard run by Stringer, then forced a Dragon turnover on downs at the Halstead 12-yard line. The Warriors scored in two plays, with Heidebrecht recording his fourth touchdown, this time from 9-yards out.
Stringer intercepted a Dragon pass with less than a minute to play, essentially sealing Marion’s 24-point win.
Marion rolled up 451 yards of offense, including 413 rushing yards. Heidebrecht carried the ball 30 times for 255 yards and four touchdowns.
Coming-Marion will play at Cheney Saturday. Cheney earned a 48-8 victory over Douglass Tuesday.