The Marion football team was a seemingly unstoppable force in its first game of district play, an offensive juggernaut limited primarily by its own miscues in a 64-36 walloping of Southeast of Saline Friday.
However, Marion dealt with adversity early when a mishandled punt on the fourth play of the game gave the home-field Trojans new life at midfield. Five plays later, SES scored to take a 6-0 lead. But Marion, who scored on all six of its first-half possessions, responded when Corbin Wheeler scored the first of his two first-quarter touchdowns on a 51-yard sprint. Jack Schneider’s two-point conversion run pushed Marion in front, 8-6.
SES regained the lead with a nine-play, 80-yard scoring drive, but the Trojan advantage did not last long, as a 57-yard run by Evann Heidebrecht on first down led to a 10-yard touchdown run by Wheeler that evened the score at 14 apiece, which held through the end of the first quarter.
The Warriors scored four unanswered touchdowns in the second quarter. Wheeler started the scoring barrage with a 5-yard run on a quarter-opening drive lasting just 49 seconds, then Schneider found the end zone for Marion’s next three scores with touchdown runs of 2-, 35- and 65-yards, respectively.
By the time the dust settled at halftime, Marion held a 46-14 lead.
The Warriors had as many turnovers as touchdowns in the third quarter, bookending their two scoring drives with a second-half opening fumble and an interception on the last play of the period. In between, Wheeler rushed straight up the middle for a 67-yard score and Evann Heidebrecht found the end zone from 10-yards out to cap a four-play, 51-yard drive.
SES, meanwhile, capitalized on the Marion fumble that put the Trojans at the Warrior 35-yard line. Three plays later, SES scored on a 29-yard touchdown run.
Riley Hake hauled in an interception to cut the Trojans’ next drive short, and Zachary Stuchlik caught the first of his two interceptions on SES’s next drive. The third quarter ended with Marion leading, 58-20.
The Trojans outscored Marion, 16-6, in the final period, enjoying good field position thanks to a 71-yard return after Marion’s third-quarter ending interception. Starting at the Warrior 3-yard line, SES needed just one play to score. That made it 58-28 only four seconds into the final period.
The teams traded fumbles. After Marion’s only punt of the game, SES scored its final touchdown with 5:25 to play, capping a three-play, 55-yard drive with a 12-yard touchdown pass. But the Warriors needed just one play to score when Wheeler broke loose for a 59-yard score. That brought it to the final, 64-36 margin with 5:14 tot play.
Marion saw another drive end with a fumble, then Stuchlik prevented a late Trojan score by interception a pass in the end zone. That allowed the Warriors to run out the final 2:14.
Marion rolled up 678 yards of offense, 667 of which came on the ground.
Wheeler rushed for 341 yards and four touchdowns on 14 carries, while Schneider carried the ball 12 times for 183 yards and three touchdowns. Stringer had 18 carries for 91 yards and one touchdown.
Coming—Marion improves to 1-0 in district play and will travel to Hillsboro (0-1) Friday for a 7 p.m. game. Hillsboro lost to Hesston Friday, 41-6.
For scores and updates during games, follow Janae on Twitter @janaerem13