Marion gains homecoming victory over Ell-Saline

Janae Rempel / Free Press<p>Jack Schneider rushes for a 34-yard gain early in Friday?s game against Ell-Saline. Schneider was Marion?s leading rusher, carrying the ball nine times for 126 yards. He completed 6 of 7 pass attempts for 87 yards and one touchdown in Marion?s 40-22 win.

Victory for the Marion football team was sweet Friday on homecoming night as the Warriors defeated Ell-Saline, 40-22.

While the Cardinals rivaled Marion in terms of speed, the potent offensive attack of the Warriors provided an effective complement. Marion rolled up 318 yards of total offense and found success on the ground and through the air.

?Anytime you play Ell-Saline, it?s going to be an offensive line/defensive line battle,? coach Grant Thierolf said. ?They never really stopped our offense.

?We threw the ball better, we ran the ball efficiently. We once again used all three phases of the option. When you can do that, it puts a lot of pressure on the other team.?

Aside from a red zone penalty on fourth down and a fumble?both as the Warriors were threatening to score?and a fourth-quarter punt, Marion scored on every possession.

Defensively, the Warriors took advantage of four Ell-Saline turnovers, including a fumble on the Cardinals? first drive.

Marion needed just five plays to score, aided by two Corbin Wheeler runs of 20- and 15 yards, respectively. The drive culminated in a perfectly thrown 30-yard touchdown pass from Jack Schneider to Mason Pedersen down the left sideline. Schneider?s two-point conversion gave Marion an 8-0 lead with 10:44 left in the second quarter.

The teams traded fumbles before Marion pieced together a scoring drive late in the half. Schneider showed off his speed with a 34-yard rush on second down, then Aaron Riggs got the nod on four consecutive plays. Schneider connected with Peyton Heidebrecht for a 12-yard pass completion, and Riggs leaped over the pile for a 1-yard touchdown to punctuate the drive. Marion took a 16-0 lead, and Pedersen intercepted an Ell-Saline pass to end the half.

Ell-Saline scored after intermission. Dakota Came rushed for 52 yards on the third play of the drive. Pedersen chased him down to save the touchdown, but Ell-Saline found the end zone two plays later, closing the gap to 16-8.

Marion answered immediately to reclaim momentum, covering 59 yards in eight plays. Heidebrecht scored on a 3-yard run, making it 24-8 after Wheeler?s two-point conversion.

Jeremy Hett recorded his second fumble recovery on the night, and Marion?s offense was back in business. Schneider connected with Pedersen for a 32-yard pass, and the eight-play drive ended with a 3-yard Riggs touchdown. The 32-8 score held through the end of the third quarter.

The Cardinals scored when the speedy Came ran for a 58-yard touchdown, making it 32-14.

Marion answered with its final scoring drive, capped by a 3-yard Heidebrecht touchdown, making it 40-14 with 7:39 to play.

Ell-Saline scored once more against Marion?s junior varsity, bringing the final margin to 40-22.

Marion tallied 342 rushing yards, led by Schneider with nine carries for 126 yards. Through the air, Schneider was 6-for-7 for 87 yards and one touchdown.

Ell-Saline managed 254 yards of offense, including 229 rushing and 25 passing. Came carried the ball 13 times for 187 yards and all three touchdowns.

Coming?Marion (4-0) will begin district play Friday at Chase County. Chase County comes into the game after a 12-7 loss to Lyndon.

?We?re in the playoffs right now, so we?ve got to make sure that we do what we need to do the next five weeks and just be ready to go,? Thierolf said. ?We?re going to see some marked improvement as the season goes, and that?s fun because we?re playing at a relatively good level right now, but we can play a whole lot better.?

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