Battling injury against a solid opponent, the Marion football team overcame adversity in a 38-35 victory over Sedgwick Friday.
In a battle of offense, the game hinged on which team could stop the other. For Marion, that moment came with less than 2:00 to play when Jarred Rahe sealed the victory with an interception as Sedgwick was moving toward a potential game-winning scoring drive.
“Jarred Rahe (is) one of the smartest players we’ve ever coached,” coach Grant Thierolf said. “He’s going to get beat physically every once in awhile, but he had been underneath on that pass earlier in the quarter and recognized the same thing and just happened to be right there and made the play.”
Marion got off to a slow start and trailed the duration of the first half.
Sedgwick appeared nearly unstoppable in the early going, scoring on every possession but one. The Cardinals built a 14-0 first-quarter lead with two passing touchdowns sandwiching a Warrior fumble.
With Marion at risk of falling behind by three touchdowns, Zachary Stuchlik snagged an interception late in the quarter. That set up Marion’s first scoring drive, which ended when Corbin Wheeler found the end zone on a 30-yard touchdown run two plays into the second quarter. Wheeler added the two-point conversion to bring Marion within 14-8.
Those were the first of 22 second-quarter points for Marion as the teams traded blow for blow.
Sedgwick needed seven plays to cover 80 yards and extend its lead to 21-8, but Marion answered quickly when Jack Schneider took a first-down carry down the right sideline for a 49-yard score, bringing Marion within 21-14.
The Cardinals responded with an eight-play scoring drive, gaining 67 of their 80 yards on three passing plays, including a 13-yard touchdown strike. That extended Sedgwick’s lead to 28-14 with 5:16 left in the half.
Again Marion had an answer, with Chase Stringer capping a five-play drive with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Stuchlik. Wheeler’s conversion run brought Marion within 28-22, a score that held through halftime.
The Warriors took their first lead 10 plays into the second half. Schneider highlighted the 61-yard drive with a 7-yard touchdown run, and Chase Stringer’s conversion run pushed Marion in front, 30-28.
Marion forced a turnover on downs after that, then added to its lead on another touchdown run by Schneider, this time from 8 yards out. The play was set up by a 29-yard pass to Stuchlik. Schneider cashed in the conversion, putting Marion in front by 10, 38-28.
But Sedgwick would not go quietly. The Cardinals pieced together a five-play, 60-yard scoring drive to draw within 38-35 with 2:09 left in the third quarter.
When Marion’s next possession ended in a turnover on downs, Sedgwick marched to the Warrior 24-yard line. A defensive stop by Jarret McLinden and Garrett Hoffner on fourth down ended the threat, but Sedgwick had another opportunity after a Marion three-and-out.
Rahe’s interception allowed the Warriors to run out the final 1:48.
“It was one of those (games) that was just two good football teams throwing offense at one another, and then it all turns on a defensive play,” Thierolf said. “I was just so proud of our kids.0”
Marion rolled up 394 yards on offense, including 328 on the ground, led by Schneider with 137 yards and three touchdowns on 20 carries. Stringer added 103 yards on 19 carries.
Through the air, Stringer was 1-for-3 for 37 yards and one touchdown.
Sedgwick, meanwhile, recorded 454 yards of offense, 249 rushing and 205 passing.
“On all of our drives tonight, we took up a lot of time,” Thierolf said. “That’s really what you want to do with Sedgwick is keep them from having the ball,” Thierolf said.
Coming—Marion (3-0) will travel to Remington (1-2) Friday for a 7 p.m. game.