When Sterling received the opening kickoff, went four-and-out and saw the Warriors take a 7-0 lead early in the first quarter, it looked like Marion might be headed to a 3-0 start. Running back Joey Stromberg had other ideas, breaking a 55-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter for a 14-7 Sterling lead.
A pass interference penalty with 3:29 left in the first was flagged against Marion and set up Sterling’s tying touchdown with 2:24 to go in the frame. Neither team tallied again until Stromberg blasted around the left side of the Warrior defense 11 seconds into the fourth.
Stromberg escaped Warrior defense again on Sterling’s next possession, rambling 43 yards to set up a 20-yard field goal for the 17-7 final.
In between the tying score and the go-ahead score, Marion and the Black Bears stalled at a standstill, with drive-killing penalties, dropped passes and determined defense conspiring to slow both offenses to a crawl. But in the end, it was Stromberg’s explosiveness that tilted the game, as the Sterling senior piled up six runs of 10 or more yards. Leppke accounted for Marion’s longest run of the night when he burst out of a pile of players for a 10-yards on a quarterback keeper on third down and less than a yard to go midway through the second quarter.
Leppke went down hard on Marion’s final drive, bringing backup quarterback Chase Carlson into the offensive backfield for the first time all season. Carlson completed Marion’s longest pass of the night on the next play, connecting with Justin Heidebrecht for 23 yards with 45 seconds left in the contest. But the Sterling defense rose to the challenge one final time to preserve their win.
Marion is now 2-1 on the young season, and will play at Haven next Friday..