Marion opened district play with a 27-0 shutout of Halstead on a chilly Friday night in Halstead.
?It was a good game just from the standpoint that we kind of took control of it and won, but we had a lot of penalties, a lot of mistakes,? coach Grant Thierolf said. ?Luckily, we didn?t turn the ball over a whole lot, but we made enough mistakes in this game to last us a whole season, let alone just one game.
?The good thing is it?s a win, and we?ll learn from it.?
The Warriors won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, but received the opening kickoff as a result of miscommunication by Halstead, Thierolf said.
Marion got off to a rough start, fumbling the ball away on the first play. Halstead took over at the Warrior 18-yard line, but Marion escaped unscathed when a Dragon field goal attempt missed the mark.
The Warriors then pieced together their first scoring drive. A 19-yard run by Adam Janzen followed by a 34-yard run by Caleb Williams gave the Warriors first-and-goal at the 1. Janzen scored on the next play to cap an eight-play, 80-yard drive. Grif Case?s kick made it 7-0 with 7:56 left in the first quarter.
Marion added to its lead on the first drive of the second quarter. After rushes by Williams and Taylor Heide?brecht, Trevor Kruse broke free for a 66-yard touchdown run on the third play. Case?s kick gave Marion a 14-0 advantage with 10:49 left before halftime.
The Warrior defense came up big on Halstead?s next drive when Kyle Palic sacked quarterback Blake Beckett. Two plays later, Williams intercepted a Beckett pass.
That set up Marion?s last scoring drive of the half. Janzen scored on a 4-yard run for a 21-0 halftime lead after Case?s kick.
The Warriors orchestrated one final scoring drive in the second half. Janzen capped a 10-play, 61-yard drive with a 2-yard touchdown run. Case?s kick failed for a 27-0 lead with 7:15 left in the third quarter.
Halstead saw one drive cut short when Case intercepted a pass on the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Dragons had one final attempt at a score, when, after an incomplete pass on fourth-and-10 at the Warrior 23-yard line, a Marion personal foul penalty gave the Dragons first-and-10 at the 13-yard line with 8 seconds left in the game. But two passes fell incomplete as time ran out.
Thierolf praised Marion?s defensive effort.
?Defense, I thought, played pretty well all night long,? he said. ?It starts with the defensive line up front, and those guys put a lot of pressure on quarterbacks, they cut off run lanes.
?Our linebackers did a good job flowing to the ball, and then our defensive backs, by and large, played pretty well tonight against a good throwing team.
?It is pleasing to see them get the shutout because that?s what every defense tries to do, and especially the way the game started, turning the ball over at the 20-yard line to start off.?
Coming?With the win, the Warriors improved to 6-1 on the season. Marion will host Hillsboro (3-4) Friday. Hillsboro dropped a 40-35 decision to Moundridge Friday.
Admission to the game is free, thanks to the generosity of county banks. Kickoff is 7 p.m.