The Marion High School defense repeatedly checked the Wichita Collegiate passing attack, but got little help from a fumble-prone offense in Friday?s 21-14 road loss.
Collegiate took the opening kick and the teams traded three-and-outs before either offense ignited. Collegiate drove from its own 40 to the Marion 4-yard line, but stalled.
The Warriors threw Blake Jablonski for a three-yard loss on a first-and-goal from the four. The pressure contributed to a bad snap on second down, with Jablonski recovering the loose ball but losing 10 yards.
Abe Eldridge deflected a pass on third down, bringing up fourth and goal from the 17. The disorganized Spartans gave away five more yards with a delay of game penalty, and ended up turning the ball over on downs.
But the Warriors offense also sputtered, leading to the Spartans taking possession at midfield after a punt. After an 11-yard completion from Jablonski to Brett LeMaster, the Marion defensive line swatted down one pass and stopped a short completion for a four-yard gain, bringing up third and five.
The Spartans gave away a catch and run for a large gain with a holding penalty, and Eric Vogel sacked Jablonski on the final play of the first quarter.
The second quarter began with a punt and ended with Collegiate taking a 14-7 lead on a 10-yard completion from Jablonski to Bryce Cornejo.
In between, the Warriors saw Jablonski hit LeMaster for an 18-yard score and promptly responded with a special teams touchdown.
?We knew we could not let their QB sit back and throw without any pressure,? Warrior coach Grant Thierolf said. ?He is good and their wideouts are all tall and rangy. They are as athletic as any team that we will play this year.?
After LeMaster?s score, Marion?s kickoff return unit stepped up. Returner Drew Maddox caught the ball at his own 5-yard line, darted toward the right sideline to slip past the initial wave of Spartans, then cut back through the middle of the field to escape Collegiate?s scheme to contain him.
He stiff-armed a tackler near midfield, then outran one last pursuer to the end zone. The extra point made it 7-7 with 4:44 left in the half.
Collegiate ran eight plays?one of which was wiped out by an offensive penalty?and scored on the subsequent drive.
After three straight completions to LeMaster of 20 yards or more, Jablonski hit Cornejo for back-to-back 10-yarders and the score.
Collegiate held Marion to eight first downs in the contest, but nevertheless found itself in a tie game early in the fourth quarter.
A Colten Johnson interception and returning to just inside the Spartan 10 set up Marion?s second score. Matt Sprowls punched it in with a quarterback keeper from a yard out three plays later. The point after made it 14-14 with 10:45 left.
Prior to that score, Collegiate had made little use of junior running back Raymond Taylor, who started in place of injured senior Tyler Coughenour.
But needing to score and advance the clock in the process, Collegiate handed off to Taylor three times en route to the decisive score. Taylor broke through the Warrior secondary for a 27-yard run on second-and-10, making it 21-14 with 9:01 left in the contest.
Marion countered with a drive that reached midfield before miscues forced a punt.
An interception by Dillon Richmond returned the ball to MHS with 3:17 to go, but a fumble immediately handed the ball back to Collegiate.
The Spartans limited Marion to 107 rushing yards for the evening.
?I was a little surprised their defensive line got the better of our offensive line,? Thierolf said. ?That is an area of strength of our team and for us to be successful, we have to win that battle every week.?
Thierolf said that although the turnovers were equal in number, Marion?s mistakes decided the game.
?We needed a game where we did not turn the ball over and then have our defense force two or three,? he said. ?We have to do a better job of handling the ball.?
Coming?The Warriors (1-1) play at Nickerson Friday. Collegiate beat Nickerson 56-28 in the first week of the season, but Wes Cottrell powered the Panthers rushing offense with 311 yards on the ground. Nicker?son lost to Hoisington 30-12 this week.