Marion thumps Haven Cats 19-0

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Mitchell Leppke churns through a pile of blockers and tacklers at Haven on Friday. Leppke teamed up with Sheldon Boone to power MHS to a 19-0 win. Leppke and Boone combined for 283 yards of offense on the ground. Photos by Andrew Ottoson

The Marion football team shut out Haven 19-0 Friday night for its third win of the season.

Key starters Brad Klenda and Austin Hager were not in uniform, but the Warriors (3-1) were able to take control of the scoreboard on first-half touchdown runs by Sheldon Boone and Mitchell Leppke.

?Mitch ran the ball well, and Sheldon came in and did some good things for us,? coach Grant Thierolf said. ?Our offensive line accepted the challenge. We were not physical enough against Sterling, but we did a better job getting on and staying on our blocks at the point of attack this week.?

The Warriors marched 58 yards on 11 plays to open the scoring. Boone hammered home a 5-yard score with 2:43 left in the first quarter for a 6-0 lead.

Leppke followed with a 38-yard sprint 2:41 into the second frame. The Warriors took over at their own 28 following an interception by Matt Thierolf with 50 seconds left in the first.

Leppke broke a 14-yard run before the teams traded ends, and Boone scampered 11 yards. Two plays later, Leppke was off to the races.

Having misfired on the earlier point-after kick, Marion tried to run for the 2-point conversion but came up short, leaving the score 12-0 with 9:09 to play in the half.

Marion?s next possession ended abruptly when Ryan Ruane recovered a fumble for Haven. Haven handed the ball back to Marion on a failed run on fourth-and-2 came with 1:43 left.

Marion attempted four passes in its 2-minute drill offense but gained only eight yards. A penalty against Haven let Boone run out the clock.

With a light rain falling, Marion spent most of the third period controlling the ball in Wildcat territory.

Marion received the opening kickoff and advanced 24 yards on five runs before punting into the wind. The Warrior defense then forced a three-and-out, but a stellar punt by Haven?s Jordan Drake temporarily reversed field position, with Marion taking possession at its 22.

A tenacious effort in the ground game gave Marion three quick first downs. Facing fourth down with a foot to go, Leppke gained a yard on the quarterback keeper.

Leppke carried again on the next play, twisting out of a tackle and gaining 15 yards to set up Boone?s second touchdown?a 1-foot plunge with 0:14 left in the third.

The Warriors added the point-after kick for a 19-0 lead, and the only question left was whether the Marion defense would preserve the shutout.

?We had several guys in there that we normally might not, and they did a very good job for us defensively,? Thierolf said. ?I was really pleased with what we did. It was a solid effort by our team.?

Defensive linemen Mark Kukuk, Luke Gordon and Eric Vogel spent much of the rest of the game chasing Haven quarterback Byron Neinstedt around the defensive backfield.

Kukuk forced a turnover on downs by dragging Neinstedt to the grass behind the line on fourth down at 10:50.

Boone?s second fumble was recovered by Haven at 7:17, but Neinstedt was hit by Gordon and Vogel on consecutive plays, leading to a Wildcat false start and a timeout at 7:12. Neinstedt completed his first pass in 11 tries on the next play.

Marion stifled a fake punt to take the ball back with 6:20 to go and lost yardage. Facing fourth down 16 yards away from the first-down marker but only 30 yards from the end zone, Leppke gained 14 yards.

The Wildcats? final drive included a 20-yard run by Trevor Ukens and a 20-yard catch by Jordan Simon, but ended at the Marion 36-yard line with a fumbled pitch recovered by Thierolf with 1:39 to go.

Marion ran 60 plays and held the ball for 38:37 compared to 37 plays and 9:23 for Haven

Either Leppke or Boone carried on 52 of Marion?s plays and the duo combined for 283 rushing yards.

Coming?The Warriors (3-1) will go toe-to-toe with Hoising?ton (3-1) for homecoming at 7 p.m. Friday in Marion.

The game will be preceed?ed by the coronation at 6:30.

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