Marion blocks last-second field goal to earn first HOA?victory

Marion premiered in the Heart of America League with a last-second, 14-13, home-field victory over Inman.

With 0.7 seconds left in a defensive struggle, the visiting Teutons lined up for a field goal from the Marion 4-yard line, trailing by a point. But Warrior linebacker Conner Thierolf blocked the kick.

?It was awesome,? said the senior. ?I just shot the ?A? gap and got to the kick.?

Meeting Thierolf at the kicker were David Helmer and Adam Cope, even though the entire team had never executed a field-goal block in practice or a game.

?That was all the kids,? said coach Grant Thierolf.

The last-second field-goal try was set up by a four-play series in which Inman drove 45 yards in 23.7 seconds.

After Luke Ropp returned a kickoff to the Marion 49-yard line, Inman quarterback Jason Friesen found Ropp for a 19-yard completion to the Warrior 30.

Following an incomplete pass, Friesen hit Isaac Sisson, who skirted out of bounds at the Marion 4-yard line with three seconds left. Inman spiked the ball on the next play to line up for the field goal.

Minutes earlier, Marion had taken its first lead, courtesy of a 15-play, 60-yard drive and 2-point conversion that ate up 7:03 of the final 7:38.

The Warriors gave the ball to Les Riggs, who carried the ball all 15 times to the right side.

?It was called Les Riggs run right,? Thierolf said. ?We had (Dakin) Ledford and Adam Cope on that right side. They did a great job of blocking.?

Riggs picked up first downs on three third-down situations. The final one set up the final touchdown as he drove to the 1-yard line on first-and-goal and hammering his way into the end zone from one yard out with 35 seconds remaining.

Needing the 2-point conversion to take the lead, Riggs came through again, sweeping to the right. He appeared pinned at the sideline but got a block on the edge, found a lane and slipped into the end zone from four yards out.

?They told me they were going to put it on my shoulders,? Riggs said. ?I just ran aggressively and got some good blocking.?

With the final drive being the most productive one offensively for the Warriors, the defense stepped up in key situations.

Late in the third quarter, Inman marched 79 yards for a first-and-goal at the 1-yard line.

On first down, Inman handed off to Ropp for no gain. Second down, incomplete pass. No gain. Third down, Ropp handoff, no gain.

On fourth down, Ropp reached the end zone on a sweep play to the right, but was called back on an illegal block penalty.

With fourth-and-goal from the 11, Friesen?s short pass over the middle fell incomplete, giving MHS the ball.

The ensuing possession netted nine yards on three plays and ended on fourth-and-one from the Warrior 20. Inman then recovered a bad exchange between center and quarterback with 35.3 seconds left in the third quarter.

Friesen extended Inman?s lead to 13-6 with a 20-yard touchdown run two plays later.

Following a 60-yard touchdown run by Ropp and a stalled Marion drive, the Warrior defense answered with an interception return for its first points of the game.

Marion?s Jordan Versch snatched the errant pass at the Inman 40 and dashed to the end zone.

The touchdown moved Marion to within 7-6 with 7:23 to play in the first quarter after the failed 2-point conversion.

Marion accumulated 187 yards of total offense. Riggs led picked up 157 of them on 29 carries.

For Inman, Ropp led all rushers with 187 yards on 24 carries. Friesen added 44 yards on 12 carries.

Coming?Marion (2-0, 1-0) will host Bennington (0-2, 0-2) Friday. Bennington fell to Sedgwick, 48-0, last week.

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