The Marion Warriors relied on a late defensive effort to squeak past winless Mound?ridge, 22-20, Friday in Moundridge.
After recovering a Marion fumble at their own 46-yard line with 6:47 to play, the Wildcats needed a touchdown and a 2-point conversion to tie the game.
Moundridge advanced 24-yards when Trey Unrau found fullback Daniel Ratzlaff on a pass play. Unrau had moved to quarterback from running back late in the game.
?He was their quarterback for the first three games,? said Marion defensive coordinator Jerry Smith. ?They decided they could use him better as a running back and I think they did.?
Facing fourth-and-5, the Wildcats kept their drive alive with a 21-yard run by Unrau. A horse-collar tackle by Marion?s Brody Corrol drew a flag and moved Moundridge half the distance to the goal to the Warrior 1-yard line.
Two plays later, starting quarterback Cooper Wedel from plunged over the goal line to make the score 22-20 with 4:18 left.
Opted for the 2-point try, but a wave of Warriors burst through the Wildcat line and stopping Unrau behind the line of scrimmage. Conner Thierolf was assisted on the tackle by Adam Cope and Corrol.
?Basically, the kids just kind of sucked it up and played it pretty tough,? Smith said.
Marion took over on offense following the kickoff, but was forced to punt with 2:19 to play.
Moundridge took over after from its own 42-yard line. After picking up an initial first down, the Wildcats faced third-and-7, Moundridge?s Unrau completed a pass to the Warrior sideline. Fortunately for the Warriors, it was to coach Grant Thierolf.
Moundridge then failed to covert on fourth down, sealing the Warrior victory
?We?ve just come to the realization throughout the last week, we?re never going look pretty, but our kids are going to play hard,? said Coach Thierolf.
For the third straight game, Marion gave up an early long touchdown run when Unrau, starting at running back, broke free for a 94-yard score.
Following the PAT kick, Moundridge led 7-0 at the 3:10 mark of the first quarter.
On the ensuing possession, Marion found itself in good field position thanks to Jordan Versch?s kickoff return to the Marion 40. Marion ate 7:47 off the clock making big plays in the passing game.
Dillon Richmond started the drive with a 33-yard pass to Versch to the Wildcat 43-yard line. Three plays later on third-and-6, Richmond found Cole Lewman for a 27-yard reception to the Warrior 10.
Marion switched to the run, moving nine yards in the next three plays. Les Riggs capped the drive with a 1-yard plunge on fourth down. Randy Regnier ran the 2-point conversion for an 8-7 lead.
In the third quarter, Marion scored again on a Les Riggs 7-yard run following a 23-yard run by Regnier. With 7:47 left in the quarter, Marion led 14-7.
Moundridge answered, scoring from the 10-yard line on a Ratzlaff run with 5:14 left, tying the game at 14-14 after the PAT kick.
Following a Warrior stop on fourth-and-2, Marion moved 72-yards in 1:14 to claim the go-ahead touchdown. Regnier ran in from the Moundridge 23-yard line. Les Riggs?s 2-point run made it 22-14 with 10:06 to go in the game.
Both teams had similar success running the football. Marion ran 48 times for 264 yards while Moundridge picked up 252 yards on 40 carries.
Marion finished with 329 yards of total offense on 56 plays. The Wildcats ran 52 plays for 322 yards.
Unrau led all rushers with 17 carries for 176 yards and a touchdown. Marion split its rushing yards between Riggs, Regnier and Richmond. Riggs ran 25 times for 95 yards, Regnier gained 95 on 11 carries and Richmond had 11 carries for 75 yards.
Despite six starters sidelined with injuries, Marion won its first Heart of America game on the road to remain undefeated at 4-0. Moundridge fell to 0-4.
Coming?Marion (4-0, 3-0) will host HOA foe Sedgwick (3-1, 3-1) Friday.