The Marion Warriors were never threatened on the way to a 46-6 victory Friday at Bennington.
?We didn?t punt tonight, and the only time we didn?t score on a down was when we turned the ball over?so I?m pretty pleased with the kids,? coach Grant Thierolf said. ?I thought we had a pretty decent week of practice. It went about the way we expected it to go.?
Marion struck fast and never looked back, scoring one minute into the game on a 56-yard touchdown run by Adam Janzen. Grif Case?s kick failed, but the Warriors held a 6-0 lead.
?Bennington was a beat-up team,? Thierolf said. ?A couple of their kids didn?t play tonight that would?ve certainly presented some challenges to us.?
When Bennington couldn?t convert on fourth-and-4, the Marion offense again went to work, scoring after five plays on a 23-yard pass from quarterback Taylor Heidebrecht to Zach Robson. The two-point conversion failed, but Marion led 12-0 with 5:39 left in the period.
Trevor Kruse intercepted a pass on Bennington?s second play from scrimmage, giving the ball back to Marion on the Bulldog 13-yard line.
One false-start penalty later, Kruse ran in for an 18-yard touchdown. Case?s kick made it 19-0 at the 4:32 mark.
Bennington?s TJ Ragnoni broke tackles on the kickoff before James Jones finally made the tackle at the Warrior 19. But the Bulldogs could not take advantage, turning over the ball on downs.
?Great play by James Jones to chase the kid down and keep him from scoring, and then the defense did a great job of not letting them score,? Thierolf said. ?There were a lot of good things that happened there.?
Marion?s ensuing drive lasted into the second quarter. Janzen broke tackles to advance the ball to the 2-yard line after a 45-yard run. Kruse then crossed the goal line on the next play, capping a seven-play, 85-yard drive. Case?s kick was no good after a delay of game penalty, but Marion led 25-0 with 11:16 left in first half.
The teams traded interceptions on four consecutive possessions, but Marion managed a final score in the half after a botched snap on a Bennington punt gave the Warriors the ball at the Bulldog 13-yard line.
After a penalty narrowed the field to first-and-5 at the 8, Heidebrecht threw to Jones for a touchdown?but it was called back because of a holding penalty. Two plays later, the duo connected again for an 8-yard score. Case?s kick made it 32-0 at halftime.
Early in the third quarter, Robson returned the Bulldog punt to the Bennington 27-yard line. Three plays later, Caleb Williams found the end zone on a 15-yard run. Case?s kick made it 39-0 with 8:39 left in the period.
When Bennington couldn?t convert on fourth down, Marion took over at the Bulldog 25. Thierolf began sending in the second string. Even so, the Warriors scored two plays later on a quarterback keeper by Robson for a 10-yard touchdown. Case?s kick made it 46-0 with 5:50 left in the third quarter.
With a running clock in effect and multiple Warrior starters on the sideline, Bennington pieced together its only scoring drive, cashing in on a 1-yard run. The 2-point conversion failed for the final 40-point margin.
?To come out and score the first drive and, outside of penalties and a couple of throws that were tipped or throws that should?ve been caught that were turned into interceptions, we did pretty much what we needed to do tonight,? Thierolf said.
?I thought we did a lot of good things, and we need to just continue to play complete games through the next couple of weeks.?
Marion (2-1) will host Inman (3-0) Friday, with homecoming festivities prior to the 7 p.m. kickoff.