Maddox, Marion edge Hoisington


Marion back Drew Maddox escapes two pursuers and gains 31 yards. He totaled 49 yards, but also scored the only points Friday.

The Marion High School football team battled a high-powered Hoisington team to a standstill for three quarters Friday, and broke through with the 6-0 game-winner 1:22 into the fourth quarter.

Drew Maddox did the honors, capping a drive that began at the Marion 20-yard line after the Cardinals missed a field goal try late in the third quarter.

?Our offense played as well as we have all season against a very physical defense,? Thierolf said. ?Their defensive front is very good and we were able to create enough offense to keep field position and possession for much of the game.?

On the scoring drive, Marion ran 11 plays, including a punt fake that saw a direct snap to Mitchell Leppke, who ran like a jitterbug for six yards on fourth-and-two.

On the subsequent first down, Leppke faked the run and threw a long pass down the sideline to Luke Gordon, who had already proved himself nearly unstoppable in the Hoisington secondary.

?Luke played his best game as a Warrior,? coach Grant Thierolf said. ?He can play like that every week when he puts his mind to it. He was aggressive going to the ball and he did a great job of punting to keep them on a long field.?

Gordon?s catch went for 24 yards, making it first-and-10 Marion on the Cardinal 15 to start the fourth period.

Five plays later, Maddox scooted into the end zone with the games first and only score.

The extra point was blocked, putting added onus on the Warrior defense to hold off the Cardinals down the stretch.

Marion was more than equal to the task.

Warrior ends Nick Klenda and Eric Vogel had harried quarterback Jared Powell all evening but caused increasing chaos in the Cardinal backfield as Hoi?sing?ton virtually abandoned its rushing attack after Maddox scored.

The Cardinals tried only two runs in the waning moments?a first down handoff that netted three yards and a third down quarterback option keeper that Vogel and Tylor Neil skillfully contained with just under four minutes to go.

It was a different story in the first half, as Marion established its passing game and Hoisington controlled the ground.

Marion received the opening kick and picked up two quick first downs?both on completed ?out? pattern passes to Gordon?but stalled when the cohort of running backs gained just four yards on six tries.

Hoisington methodically marched from its own 22 to the Marion 37, throwing only once.

But Carl Hickel fumbled at the end of a 10-yard run on the next play and Leppke pounced on the loose ball.

Marion then went three-and-out, and Hoisington put together a nine-play drive that ended when Neil wrecked an option run on fourth-and-goal at the Marion 1-yard hash.

?The goalline stand was a big play. We told the team that it would take awhile to get used to the misdirection that (Hoising?ton) ran, but we made them work for everything that they got all game long,? Thierolf said.

?Tylor did a great job of making the tackle but Eric Vogel, Doug Schroeder, and Andy Kelsey were right where they needed to be to force the play to Tylor.?

On the next play, Leppke faked to Marc Washington and scampered 50-plus yards down the Cardinal sideline, sparking a 13-play series that ended with a stop on fourth-and-four at the Cardinal 7.

Hoisington ran eight plays and punted with 1:56 left in the half, after Nick Klenda broke up a swing pass on third-and-five.

Marion took over at the Cardinal 41 and Leppke broke a 16-yard run, setting up first-and-10 at the Cardinal 25. Marion then tried a halfback pass, with Sheldon Boone rolling out to the right and throwing an incomplete pass toward Gordon and Vogel, who were streaking down the sideline.

The Warriors used two runs to set up one more shot at the end zone before the intermission, but Leppke?s toss to Gordon in the front left corner of the end zone fell incomplete.

Hoisington started the second half at its own 25 and assembled a 16-play drive to reach the Warriors 12 before shanking a field goal try wide left with 3:56 left in the third quarter.

Marion countered with a 12-play, 80-yard series that ended with Maddox?s score 1:22 into the fourth.

It was all defense, as Marion shut down three potential tying drives, forcing back-to-back three-and-outs that allowed the Warrior offense to leech the clock down to 1:01.

Then Gordon came up big again, not with his hands, but with a high punt that dropped on the 1-yard line with enough backspin to keep it from carrying into the end zone, forcing Hoisington into a first-and-99 situation with under a minute to go.

Marion?s defense stifled Hoisington one last time, allowing only 13 yards on six plays despite playing four defenders 20-plus yards off of the line of scrimmage in a ?prevent? formation.

Marion linebackers Brad Klenda and Matt Thierolf made the strategy stick, forcing would-be receivers to drop routine passes with heavy hits. Each had 11 tackels, five solo, six assisted.

Nick Klenda had nine tackles, Andy Kelsey had eight. Leppke, Neil and Mark Kukuk each got in on six.

?I thought our defensive line played their best game of the year,? Thierolf said. ?We threw our bodies in the hole and created piles instead of running lanes.?

?And our linebackers played better in the game than they have to date,? he added.

Leppke had nine carries for 69 yards and nine pass attempts for 92 yards. Marion totaled 314 yards of offense, 222 of which came on the Warriors 44 runs.

Sheldon Boone had 68 rush yards on 19 tries, Maddox had eight for 48 and Washington had eight for 36.

Coming?Marion (4-1) hosts Ellinwood (2-3) Friday. Ellin?wood?s wins have been 21-6 over Sterling in the season opener and 22-0 over Haven two weeks ago. The Eagles losses have come 26-0 at Halstead, 41-21 versus Hillsboro and 50-14 against Lacrosse.

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