In a very physical game, Marion ran and passed to a 40-0 victory at Heart of America league opponent Bennington Friday.
?For the most part, I think we played pretty well,? said head coach Grant Thierolf. ?You have to be happy any time you get a shut out.?
The Warriors scored three times in the first quarter, the first at 8:03 on a 58-yard run from Brody Carroll and the second on a 33-yard pass to Jacob Harper with 5:43 left in the quarter. Running back Mikael Antoszyk took the ball in for the two-point conversion to make it 14-0.
The Warriors put points on the board a third time with a 24-yard pass to Taylor Heidebrecht on the 4-yard line that set up a touchdown run for running back Colten Johnson at the 1:13 mark.
After the missed extra point, the score was 20-0.
In the second quarter, Antoszyk returned the ball to the Marion 43-yard line with 11:06 left in the half.
A penalty pushed the ball back, but a 24-yard pass from Cole Lewman to tight end Dakin Ledford got the Warriors the touchdown with 8:15 left, to make it 26-0.
Marion?s next touchdown came from a strong effort by Antoszyk, who broke free and ran from the Marion 20-yard line to the 44-yard line with 1:30 left, on his way to 56 rushing yards and 24 receiving yards on the night.
Lewman then threw a long pass to Antoszyk minutes later to bring the Warriors to the 1-yard line.
Antoszyk ran in for the touchdown with 1:14 left in the half. The kick was good, giving the Warriors a 33-0 lead at halftime.
Marion started the second half strong, downing the kickoff at midfield. Johnson showed his experience with a 54-yard run through traffic to get the touchdown with 11:43 left to play. Grif Case?s kick made the score 40-0.
Johnson led the Warriors with 131 yards rushing, with Carroll posting 65 yards on the night and Antosyk coming in third to continue Marion?s rushing tradition.
?I thought Mikael Antoszyk did a good job on punt returns and setting up touches on offense,? Thierolf said. ?And that?s as hard as he?s ever run. So that was good.?
The Warriors had 311 yards rushing, but also improved their passing with 108 yards to combine for 419 total yards offense.
?Obviously we threw the ball a bit better tonight,? Thierolf said. ?I thought our punt return game was great tonight. I thought for the most part our kickoff coverage was very good. The special teams was good.
?We have to get more consistent in a couple areas there, but we did a lot of good things.?
But Thierolf still said there was room for improvement
?I didn?t feel like we established the inside run as well as we should have,? he said. ?But part of that was because Bennington played real well.?
Thierolf said the Bulldogs played a very physical game, even more so than he expected.
?The Bennington kids were very physical and I thought our kids matched that physicality,? he said. ?I thought their kids played awfully hard. They really did. I was impressed with them.?
On the defensive side for the Warriors., Cory Hiebert and Wiley Lundy led with 7 and 6 tackles each.
Thierolf said he was glad some of the Warriors? younger players were able to get some playing time Friday as well, thanks to the one-sided contest.
?It?s always good when young kids get to play against varsity kids,? he said. ?I thought Taylor Heidebrecht did a nice job running the ball.?
Antoszyk appeared to injure his left leg late in the third quarter and did not return to the game. His status is unknown for the Warriors? homecoming game against Moundridge coming up Friday.
The win bumped Marion to 3-0 for the season and 2-0 in the HOA, while Benning?ton slipped to 0-3 in the league and for the season.