The Marion Warriors extend their season win streak to three, defeating Bennington 35-20 on homecoming night Friday in Marion.
Despite the two-score win, Marion coach Grant Thierolf thought Marion played ?flat.? For the second straight contest, the Warriors gave up an early touchdown run. The 46-yard touchdown scamper by senior running back Brian Gellinger on Bennington?s second play from scrimmage was the first points for the Bulldogs in 2010. Following a failed two-point conversion, Bennington led 6-0 with 11:34 in the first quarter.
?After the first two plays we tightened up a little bit more,? said Thierolf. ?That?s two weeks in a row we?ve given up a touchdown on the second play. We have to do a better job of identifying our strengths as coaches.?
Marion answered quickly, scoring in two plays on its first possession. Senior running back Les Riggs rumbled 42-yards to the 14-yard line setting up Dillon Richmond. The senior quarterback scored on the next play with a 14-yard touchdown run. Following the failed two-point conversion Marion tied the game 6-2 with 11:11 to play in the opening quarter.
Following a two-and-out in which Bennington lost second down due to an illegal formation call, Marion executed a Warrior signature 13-play, 62-yard drive and a Riggs two-point conversion run to take a 14-6 lead with 2:44 in the first quarter. Les Riggs ran in the one-yard touchdown after plunging ahead on 4th and two from the Bennington 13-yard line to extend the drive.
Taking advantage of a Bennington turnover on the ensuing kick off, Marion scored its third straight touchdown before the end of the first quarter.
Running towards a tribe of Warriors in Bennington territory, Bulldog freshman tight end Heath Thornhill had the ball slip from his hands to the turf. Marion pounced on the fumble at the 33-yard line.
Three plays from scrimmage later, newly crowned homecoming king senior running back Randy Regnier found the end zone on a 18-yard sweep play. Dillon Richmond ran in the two-point conversion to extend the Warriors? lead to 22-6 with 1:29 in the first quarter.
?Our line was blocking great,? said Regnier. ?Everyone was taken. A big hole opened up.?
The next score for Marion also came off a Bulldog turnover.
Running two plays from scrimmage following the Warrior kickoff, Bennington fumbled at its own 26-yard line, giving Marion another possession near the red zone.
Using 3:01 of the game clock before reaching the end zone, Marion moved the 26-yards in eight plays. Riggs capped the drive with a five-yard touchdown run. After a failed extra-point kick attempt because of a bad snap, Marion led 28-6 with 10:15 to play in the first half.
Marion scored its final points with 6:45 to play in the first half. After a 4th-and-14 Michael Antoszyk reverse play was cut in half due to a block in back penalty on the Warriors, Richmond completed a 20-yard touchdown pass to Eric Regnier. The touchdown strike on 4th-and-seven gave Marion a 35-6 advantage.
?He got to the right spot and I threw it to the right spot,? said Richmond. ?I threw it to where it needed to be.?
Before the end of the first half, Bennington cut the Marion lead to 35-14. A long pass from? sophomore Bulldog quarterback Zach Fief to Gellinger set up Gellinger for a one-yard touchdown run with 1:25 in the half.
Bennington started the second half aggressively recovering an onside kick to start the third?quarter. Taking over at their own 47-yard line, Bennington lost yards the next two plays and opted to quick kick the ball to Marion on 3rd-and-18.
The strategy paid off for Bennington. The Bulldogs forced Marion into a three and out. On the ensuing Benninton possession, Gellinger broke free for a 63-yard touchdown run to move the Bulldogs closer at 35-20.
The remainder of the game was a field position game with neither team scoring again. Bennington threatened late in the fourth quarter, but saw its drive end courtesy of a Randy Regnier interception.
Marion picked up 311 yards on 52 plays, 291 rushing. Les Riggs led Marion with 157 yards on 25 carries and two touchdowns. Randy Regnier finished with eight carries for 55 yards and a touchdown. Richmond went 1-for-5 for 20 yards with a touchdown and carried the ball eight times for 51 yards.
Marion (3-0, 2-0) travels to Moundridge (0-3, 0-3) next week.
Heart of America results
Marion (3-0, 2-0) 35, Bennington (0-3, 0-3) 20
Hutchinson Trinity (3-0, 2-0) 50, Inman (1-2, 1-2) 21
Remington (3-0, 2-0) 56, Ell-Saline (1-2, 1-2) 6
Sedgwick (2-1, 2-1) 56, Moundridge (0-3, 0-3) 7