The game was well within reach at halftime, with Sedgwick leading by a touchdown, 7-0.
But with Marion struggling offensively, the game went downhill in the second half. Four Warrior turnovers limited Marion?s scoring opportunities, while a strong Sedgwick offense managed four more touchdowns by the end of the game.
?First half, our defense was outstanding,? coach Grant Thierolf said. ?We just never established anything offensively.?
Sedgwick limited Marion?s potent running game to only 14 yards on 31 carries for the game. Marion managed 112 yards passing for 126 yards total offense. Sedgwick, meanwhile, compiled 371 yards.
?Those things happen,??Thierolf said. ?We?ve been very fortunate this year. We haven?t lost a whole lot of playing time to injuries.
?Making certain Taylor was healthy was the most important thing we needed to worry about. If we?re going to err, we?re going to err on that side all the time.?
Zach Robson replaced Heidebrecht as signal caller.
?(Zach) did a lot of nice things for us,? Thierolf said. ?We didn?t help ourselves because we could never run the ball today.
?When Zach comes in, we end up throwing the ball a little bit more than we would?ve wanted to, but we were throwing it OK with Taylor, too.
?It was just the case where we just never could get anything established on the ground. They were just a little bit quicker and a little bit stronger than us.?
The game began with a strong defensive effort by both teams. The Cardinals kept the ball on the ground and Dalton Brandt pounded out the game?s first score on a 28-yard run that capped an eight-play, 79-yard drive. Sedgwick led, 7-0, with 5:35 left in the opening quarter.
On the Warriors? next possession, Heidebrecht completed a 27-yard pass to Robson on third-and-10 to keep the drive alive. But four plays later, Marion turned the ball over on downs following three incomplete passes.
Sedgwick went three-and-out, but Marion committed the first of its six turnovers with a fumble two plays into the drive.
When Sedgwick came up short on fourth-and-3, Marion began its next drive with a 21-yard pass completion from Heidebrecht to James Jones. Five plays later, however, Brylie Ware intercepted a Heidebrecht pass and Heidebrecht took the hit that sent him to the sideline.
Two plays later, Caleb Williams intercepted Ware?s pass, and the Warriors took over at the Sedgwick 18-yard line.
After two incomplete passes sandwiched a short Marion gain, Robson scrambled 11 yards on fourth-and-9 to bring up first-and-goal from the 6-yard line. Adam Janzen took the handoff on first down and advanced to the 1-yard line, but Marion was unable to cross the goal line in three additional running plays.
?To not get it in there probably took a little bit of grit out of us,? Thierolf said. ?But that was a great stand by Sedgwick.?
The tables turned in favor of Marion when Robson intercepted Ware?s first-down pass, but Marion couldn?t capitalize and punted the ball away. The teams went into halftime with Sedgwick leading, 7-0.
A shaky start by Marion to begin the third quarter seemed to set the tone for the rest of the game. After a 16-yard pass from Robson to Jones on third down, Marion fumbled the ball away on the next play.
The Marion defense limited the damage by forcing a Cardinal punt, but things went from bad to worse when Robson?s first-down pass was intercepted by Tanner Liby.
That set up Sedgwick?s second score. The Cardinals scored on the first play of the drive on a 42-yard pass from Ware to Greer Chandler for a 14-0 lead.
Two Marion running plays and an incomplete pass later, the Warriors faced fourth-and-8 from their own 32-yard line. Williams appeared to attempt a first down but punted the ball at the last minute, giving Sedgwick good field position at the Marion 15-yard line.
After a penalty on the first play, the Cardinals scored on a 20-yard run by Brandt for a 21-0 lead with 4:40 left in the third quarter.
After Marion punted again, Sedgwick managed one more third-quarter score on a 15-yard run by Ware. That gave the Cardinals a 28-0 lead going into the final quarter.
Sedgwick managed its final touchdown when Ware completed a 58-yard scoring strike to Brandt.
?Sedgwick played better than us today,? Thierolf said. ?And it wasn?t because our kids didn?t give effort. Some days you got it and some days you don?t. (Sedgwick) made more plays than we did and ended up on top.?
Marion concluded the season with a 9-2 record. The Warriors? only other loss this season came to Sedg?wick in Week 2, 34-14.
?We had a very, very good season,? Thierolf said. ?We were a game or two away from having a great season.
?We tied for the second-most wins in Marion High School history. We only had one team win more than nine games. You can be disappointed, but you certainly can?t feel bad when you do something like that.?