Marion overcame some butterfingers to beat an experienced Inman team Friday, 34-12, and improve to 2-0 for the season.
?Part of the process is just figuring out how to play every week like we need them to play,? said coach Grant Thierolf. ?Obviously, we have to stop a big play from hurting us on defense. That?s what hurt us tonight.?
The Warriors drove to midfield on their first possession, but quarterback Cole Lewman fumbled the ball, which was recovered by Inman.
A couple possessions later, on third-and-10, Lewman completed a long pass to tight end Dakin Ledford at the Inman 47. But Lewman fumbled on Inman?s 27-yard line to end the drive.
The two teams continued to trade possessions in what turned out to be a defensive first quarter. But Lewman and the offense found some spark in the second quarter.
After Marion forced Inman to turn over the ball on downs, Lewman ran for the Warriors? first touchdown with eight minutes left. The extra point was no good, so Marion led 6-0.
When Inman punted two possessions later, Mikael Antoszyk returned the ball to the Inman 39. On fourth down, Lewman threw to Ledford at the 2-yard line with seven seconds left in the half. Lewman then punched through for the touchdown and the 2-point conversion for a 14-0 lead at halftime.
The offense slowly heated up for both teams during the second half.
In the third quarter, Ledford tipped an Inman pass into the hands of Colten Johnson, who ran it in for a touchdown with just under eight minutes left. The extra point made it 21-0.
On Inman?s next possession, Grant Garst scored the Teutons? first touchdown on a pass with just under five minutes left in the third quarter to make the score 21-6.
Johnson scored an apparent touchdown on a kickoff return, but a penalty brought the ball back to the Inman 20. After Johnson ran the ball to the 5-yard line, Carroll then broke through for the touchdown. Marion led 28-6 with 4:10 left in the third quarter.
Inman then capped a drive from midfield with another touchdown pass. The score stayed 28-12 when the Warriors stopped the 2-point conversion run.
Later, after Antoszyk returned a short punt to the Teuton 20, Lewman scored with five minutes to play. After a missed extra point, Marion led by the final margin, 34-12.
Late in the game, Antoszyk ran a punt back for a touchdown that was called back on another penalty.
With the win, Marion improved to 2-0 for the season and 1-0 in Heart of America play.
?They?re still learning how to win,? Thierolf said. ?We had opportunities to put the thing away numerous times in the second half and we just didn?t do it. We let them back in with a big play here, a big play there.?But I thought with the exception of three or four plays on defense, I thought our guys played well.
?Offensively, once we got into the second quarter we figured out what they were doing and how they were playing us, and didn?t have any trouble moving the ball.?
Thierolf praised Ledford for reading the quarterback and making plays, especially on the defensive side of the ball.
?He?s made a lot of nice plays, but we expect that out of Dakin,? he said. ?He?s played a lot for us in the past three years and as a senior leader, we expect that. He?s worked hard for it.?
Thierolf also said he was thrilled to see Isaac Baldwin stepping up and making plays, as well as Jon Tacha.
?Those guys have put some time in the weight room and conditioning and it?s starting to show,? he said. ?That?s been fun to watch them get better.?
The Warriors still have plenty of kinks to work out, though, namely multiple fumbles and costly penalties.
?A lot of it is because the kids are just trying to bust their butt and make a play,? Thierolf said.
?They want to block for each other, they want to get in a position where they can really help their teammate out.?
Coming?Marion (2-0) will travel Friday to Bennington (0-2).
?They?re a junior-senior-dominant team,? Thierolf said. ?I know they?re going to be physical.
?We?ll probably have an advantage simply because we have more depth and a little more speed than they do.?
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.