The Marion football team was tested Friday night at Chase County in its first game of district play. Battling through adversity, the Warriors rose to the occasion, doing just enough to sneak away with a 14-13 victory.
?We certainly weren?t good tonight, but Chase County had a lot to do with that,? coach Grant Thierolf said. ?They really played well, and I thought they had an excellent game plan and took us out of some of the things that we?ve been doing the last couple of weeks.?
Chase County made its presence known early as it took just four plays from scrimmage for the Bulldogs to establish the lead. Alec Keller bulldozed his way through the Warrior defense for a 55-yard touchdown, giving Chase County a 7-0 advantage after the extra-point kick.
Marion?s first drive ended in a fumble, and the teams traded punts. The first quarter ended with the Bulldogs holding a one touchdown advantage.
With Chase County deep in its own territory, Bryce Shults intercepted quarterback Brett Engle on the first play of the second quarter. That set up an 11-yard touchdown run by Jack Schneider on first down. Aaron Riggs? two-point conversion gave Marion an 8-7 lead with 11:43 left in the half.
The Bulldogs responded with a second scoring drive late in the half, covering 69 yards in eight plays and scoring on a 15-yard touchdown run by Keller. The PAT kick was blocked, but Chase County took a 13-8 lead into the locker room at halftime.
It was a scoreless third quarter, and Marion was forced to punt two plays into the final period. The Warrior defense forced a Bulldog three-and-out and came up with a key stop when Chase County attempted a fake punt on fourth down.
That put the Marion offense back on the field with 9:33 left to work with. Relying on the ground game, Marion covered 50 yards in 10 plays and scored on a 5-yard touchdown run by Corbin Wheeler with 4:03 remaining. The two-point conversion attempt failed, giving Marion a slight edge, 14-13.
Needing a defensive stop, the Warriors delivered, forcing a turnover on downs after four plays. Marion was then able to run out the final 2:37.
?We made the plays down the stretch that we needed to,? Thierolf said. ?There?s something about staying together and preserving. Those are things that you hope you?re teaching in football because they?re going to carry over later on, and our kids did a good job with that tonight.?
Marion gained 271 yards of total offense, including 203 rushing yards, led by Riggs with 22 carries for 81 yards. Through the air, Jack Schneider was 3-for-6 for 68 yards. Chase County tallied 224 yards of total offense, including 187 rushing and 37 passing.
Coming?With the win, Marion improved to 1-0 in district play, 5-0 overall. The Warriors will host Northern Heights (3-2) Friday in district action. Northern Heights shut out Yates Center, 21-0, last week in a non-district matchup.