The Marion football team suffered its first defeat of the season Friday, losing to Sterling, 14-6, to sober an otherwise festive homecoming crowd.
Coach Grant Thierolf did not mince words when speaking of his team’s lack of toughness on the field following the loss.
However, the game started well enough, as Marion’s defense conceded just 7 yards in four plays to force a turnover on downs on Sterling’s opening drive. The Warriors followed that with a scoring drive, covering 48 yards in nine plays. Chase Stringer picked up a gain of 18 yards, which set up a 4-yard touchdown run by Corbin Wheeler on the next play. The two-point conversion attempt failed, leaving Marion with a 6-0 lead with 5:37 left in the opening quarter.
If the visitors were sleeping, the prod was enough to jar the Black Bears awake.
Sterling responded with a nine-play, 66-yard drive aided by a personal foul penalty on a fourth-down play. After that, a 15-yard pass completion in the end zone and ensuing extra-point kick pushed Sterling in front, 7-6.
That score held through the end of the opening period.
Marion enjoyed some bright spots, such as when Kolton Brewer downed Garrett Hoffner’s punt at the 1-yard line, then Jack Schneider followed with an interception on the next play to record the first of two Warrior picks on the night.
But there were miscues as well. The Warrior defense surrendered 17 yards when Sterling faced fourth-and-4 at the Warrior 21-yard line, which set up a 4-yard touchdown run to cap a 13-play, 80-yard scoring drive. That brought it to the final 14-6 margin with 3:19 left in the second quarter.
During Marion’s final drive before halftime, the Warriors gained 22 yards in two plays, then lost 15 yards in the next three, to characterize a “one step forward, two steps back” kind of night.
Offensively, in the second half, Marion fumbled the ball away twice, had a pass intercepted and punted twice. Defensively, the Warriors forced two Black Bear punts and a turnover on downs, and Hoffner cut a drive short with an interception.
Marion had a chance at a potential game-tying drive after forcing a Sterling turnover on downs with 1:32 to play, but a lost fumble four plays in allowed the Black Bears to run out the final seconds.
Coming—Marion (4-1) travel to Hutchinson Trinity Friday for the Warriors’ final game before district play.
For scores and updates during games, follow Janae on Twitter @janaerem13